TV review: The Returned, More 4 (3 stars)

TV review: The Returned, More 4

Uber-cool zombie drama returns with a stutter

If you ever wondered what the collective term for zombies is, The Returned suggested that it was ‘a horde’. But in the world of sophisticated Gallic TV drama, those who come back from the dead don’t drool, gurn, run and / or stumble around as they follow their compulsive flesh-eating ways. Instead, they just, well, kind-of gather about staring at things, like woodland campfires or middle-distance buildings.

As season two commences, the excitement, dynamism and tension of the first series appears to have been lost. The opening episodes look typically lavish and have lots of moody set pieces, but they rather stubbornly refuse to move anything forward. Even our soundtrack boys Mogwai feel muted and lacking inspiration with less evocative moments being produced this time around.

The previously addictive individual stories have been diluted with an influx of connected characters who just mill around seeming vaguely threatening. Cases in point are Toni and Serge’s probably psychotic dad and Victor’s unstable mum, whose arrival has led to her wee boy actually feeling scared, thus destroying his inherent creepiness in one fell swoop. Even the unnerving quasi-cult vibe of the Helping Hand facility has dissipated: it's under new administration, with Pierre crunching the numbers to see how many ‘survivors’ he can accommodate.

What of the terrifying lesions and disfigurements that suddenly erupted onto the backs and faces of the living dead? They seem to have been jettisoned for the likes of a new character investigating the flood while continually looking through his binoculars at stuff. And the intriguing question as to why certain people were chosen to come back over others is tossed away with just about everyone who ever died ever now turning up.

The show may well recover the oddness and lurking terror that made its first ten episodes so enjoyably compelling, but for now the most obvious disease that appears on screen is second-season syndrome.

The Returned starts on More 4, Fri 16 Oct, 9pm

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