Latest ABC program a ‘Resurrection’ of better TV

First season of sci-fi thriller seems a bit ‘Lost’

Television loves bringing the dead back to life — and I am not just referring to the acclaimed “The Walking Dead.” With a new take on the supernatural — this time zombie-free — ABC’s new show “Resurrection,” based on the novel “The Returned” by Jason Mott, stars Hollywood veterans Frances Fisher, Kurtwood Smith, Matt Craven and former “House” star Omar Epps.

The show, which takes place in Arcadia, Mo., begins with a close up on eight-year old Jacob Langston waking up in a rice field in China — despite having drowned in a river 32 years prior. If the image rings any bells, it’s because ABC’s previous hit,
“Lost” begins with a similar scene: a close-up shot of Jack Shephard’s eye as he wakes up after a serious plane crash. In fact, the storytelling style of “Resurrection” eerily echoes the one primed on “Lost.” Both narratives deal with extraordinary topics, and are narrated in a way which leaves viewers with many unanswered questions and a deep respect for the mysterious.

If “Resurrection” is indeed an attempt to resurrect ABC’s former success, the writers will most likely avoid filling in substantial plot holes until much later in the series. Though this proves frustrating for viewers, it certainly incentivizes tuning in each week.

The big head-scratcher in “Resurrection” thus far is why those who come back to life act as if they never died in the first place. While they remember everything up until the moment they died with astounding clarity, it’s puzzling to find corpses in tombs these revived souls no longer occupy. By the end of the third episode, three characters have been resurrected — though merely introducing more characters does not propel the show in an interesting direction. Instead, it stalls the discovery process concerning the overarching question: how did these characters come back to the land of the living, and for what purpose?

Obviously, writers do not want to give anything away too quickly, but in its current form the show is stagnant. The premise has potential, but the plot focuses too much on how families are dealing with the return of their loved ones, and not enough on solving the mystery of the how and why this has happened. If the show does not give the audience something else to work with, it will quickly lose a large chunk of the 13.3 million who tuned in for the pilot.

I feel the show could take a few pointers from “Lost” when it comes to maintaining the excitement. “Lost” was as consistent in answering old questions as it was in presenting new ones. Viewers, soon enough, will need to know: Who are the “others?” What is this smoke machine? Why do people see ghosts all the time?

“Resurrection” remains an unresolved set of questions — and the audience, as they did with “Lost,” needs leads. Until then, keep watching to see if “Resurrection” stands out from its older brother — or remains a feeble copycat.

Published April 3, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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