The Returned Brings Kinder, Gentler Zombies To Sundance Channel: Today In Science & Science Fiction

By David Wharton | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

ReturnedIf you like the idea of coming back from the dead but want something a little more highbrow than AMC’s The Walking Dead, you might want to set the DVR for this new series which premieres tonight on the Sundance Channel. “The Returned” aren’t the shambling, brain-craving sort of zombie we’re used to, however. In fact, they seem surprisingly normal aside from the whole having been dead thing. Nor do they have any idea why or how they have been restored to life, so you can expect to see that question explored over the course of the eight-episode series. The serial killer angle makes it clear there will be some violence, but by all accounts the French series is more interested in the questions of how loved ones returning from the grave would affect both the loved ones and the returnees themselves. More Deep Impact than Armageddon, to toss out a strained metaphor.

If you like the show, good news: it’s being adapted into an American version for the A&E network. A year or two ago that statement wouldn’t have inspired much confidence, but A&E has proven to have a knack for quality scripted programming with Longmire and the surprisingly good Bates Motel.

The Returned premieres tonight on Sundance at 8/9c.

In an idyllic French mountain town, a seemingly random collection of people find themselves in a state of confusion as they attempt to return to their homes. What they don’t know yet is that they have been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. As they struggle to reintegrate with their families and past lovers, buried secrets emerge and new mysteries develop as they grapple with a miraculous and sinister new reality. But it seems they are not the only ones to have returned from the dead. Their arrival coincides with a series of gruesome murders which bear a chilling resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past.

StephensonNeal Stephenson (October 31, 1959)
While I knew the name, Neal Stephenson wasn’t on my radar at all until midway through my college career. I took a rather awesome course called “Literature in Cyberspace,” which basically involved reading cyberpunk lit like Neuromancer and watching Blade Runner in class. One of the books on the assigned reading list was Stephenson’s classic The Diamond Age. It was challenging, it was weird, and it took me a little while to get into, but I was glad I did. If you’ve never read any of Stephenson’s work, today’s the perfect time to start: it’s his birthday! I recommend starting with either Snow Crash or the aforementioned Diamond Age, but the guy’s written over a dozen novels and assorted short fiction. Stephenson turns 54 today.