By Paula Hendrickson
I might spend an inordinate amount of time watching and writing about TV, but sometimes even I’m late to the party. Case in point: BBC America’s inventive three-part mini-series, In the Flesh. I tuned in this weekend to realize I was already two episodes behind. Guess what? It was still riveting. But after watching the final episode, I went back and watched the first two On Demand.
Yes, I was disappointed to learn it was a miniseries, but the good news is it’s already been picked up for a second season.
In the Flesh turns the popular zombie craze on its head. Following a mass resurrection, thousands of newly-risen zombies roamed around killing people just like on The Walking Dead. The twist is that scientists have developed a medical treatment for PDS — Partially Deceased Syndrome.
The formerly dead are eventually re-assimilated into society — they’re issued contact lenses to hide their yellow zombie eyes and a cover-up mousse to mask their bluish-gray skin. In addition to medical treatments, they undergo counseling to cope with guilt over having killed innocent people while in their “untreated state.”
In The Flesh is at turns dramatic and funny, and uses PDS as a way to explore social issues and prejudices. PDS sufferers, commonly called “rotters,” are shunned and even hunted in some communities. Some churches vilify them as demons. “PDS” is spray painted as a warning on the homes with partially-dead residents.
Luke Newberry is perfectly cast as PDS sufferer Kieran Walker (his surname is a fun allusion to the “walkers” from The Walking Dead), a teen-age artist who had committed suicide in 2009. On top of returning to a life he wanted to escape, Kieran has to make amends to his family and deal with their emotional response to his return. His parents are at turns elated, angry, confused — and worried he might kill himself again. After the mass resurrection, his younger sister, Jem (Harriet Cains) joined the Human Volunteer Force to hunt and re-kill zombies. She witnessed an untreated Kieran kill a young woman named Lisa, but was unable to put down her own brother — zombie or not.
The conflicts extend beyond the Walker family and throughout the entire community. And beyond. An online crusader lures some PDS sufferers to join a quasi-militant commune. Will Kieran take the bait?
If you don’t have On Demand, you can download In the Flesh at Amazon Instant Video for a small fee: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DA6Y1E2/ref=atv_feed_catalog?tag=imdb-amazonvideo-20.
If BBC America has any sense, they’ll run all three episodes as a mini-marathon, but I haven’t heard of any plans for that. Yet. Perhaps if viewers request it, they’ll schedule one. See http://www.bbcamerica.com/contact-us/.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to email@example.com.
From the June 12-18, 2013, issue