jason stives is among the living …
Let’s face it, there is no escaping zombies in this current plight of pop culture. Fatigue may be slowly setting in for audiences but still there is occasionally a new zombie concept that comes along and proves to freshen up this fearless genre. In the Flesh, a three-part mini series from the U.K., happens to be one of those shows that succeeds on its concept alone but it benefits from having the personal nature that’s made the The Walking Dead so popular — it goes beyond just eating and bashing brains in.
Some time prior to the televised events of the show thousands of dead bodies have risen from the grave and attacked the British countryside. Only after being quarantined by the government and placed under heavy medication do the dead start to return to a normal state of existence. These walkers suffer from the PC term of “Partial Diseased Syndrome” in which the body is cold and lifeless but the brain has returned to a normal stasis enabling these former zombies to go about a normal life. They are slowly reintroduced to society and one of them, Kieran (Luke Newberry) acts as the focal point of this story; returning to life living with his family in the fictional town of Roarton.
The notion of “Partially Diseased Syndrome “could easily border on the satirical end but In the Flesh at its heart is a more emotional take of the personal stories we see on The Walking Dead. Kieran by appearance alone is sympathetic with doe eyes, and constant state of uncertainty which is obviously because of how he is viewed by others and the fear and sadness of his state really pulls at your emotions. He is constantly in regret flashing back to the actions he conducted as the undead and is regularly juiced up with a counteract to his lack of geno cells (cells that produce proper brain function).
You feel so badly for Keiran’s situation that you find yourself infuriated by the presence of his sister Jem who is a member of the Human Volunteer Force. Her teenage immaturity mixes with her inability to trust her brother but she still cares for him and hides him when he is discovered by the HVF to be living among the village.
In setting up the world of In the Flesh, Roarton is very atmospheric acting like that town at the end of existence that people have forgotten about save for the townspeople. The town has all but returned to normal thanks in part to the work of the HVF a band of locals who fought at keeping the undead at bay. When its revealed that the government intends to bring PDS sufferers back into society the towns people meet this with much hatred and disdain. Here we see the real monsters, people frightened of the unlike who show no remorse and quite possibly can be more hostile than those they have fought so hard against.
The militia’s leader Bill Macey and the town preacher are the real enemies of Roarton; men who don’t trust the government and are riddled with idiotic ideals about humanity and their actions and words speak such vile hatred. There is a particular bit of action from Mr. Macey and the HVF near the end of premiere that absolutely makes you angry and distraught creating a palpable villain in the stoic townsman. I have always found something interesting about the notion of normal people becoming larger than life monsters solely by their thoughts and beliefs which greatly makes up a lot of today’s culture and here its handled very well.
Coming out of the debut you are bound to go one of two ways — either embracing its originality in such a crowded genre or feel like you have seen this and zombies need to return to their graves. Regardless, In the Flesh is a welcomed addition to the stockpile of zombie-based material out there and it’s original and admirable for its take on prominent social issues.