Get out your fake contacts and cover-up, we're reviewing In The Flesh!
There's been a zombie uprising (called "the rising"), but they've found a cure… sort of… and everything's starting to calm down. As they're releasing the survivors of "Partially Deceased Syndrome" (PDS), Kieren (Luke Newberry), a PDS survivor, has trouble fitting in and adjusting to his new re-life, especially in a community that fears and mistrusts his kind. Will they accept him?
If you missed it, In The Flesh was a 3-part mini-series on BBC America that aired a couple of months back. Hopefully, you can still catch it on BBC, on demand, or online somewhere, because it's pretty fantastic. It's no mystery that we have an overabundance of media about the zombie apocalypse. They just released that one with Brad Pitt in it the other week! But this is different. It's not a horror series that deals with surviving the apocalypse; it's a drama that deals with surviving life after the apocalypse.
They do things differently here by going back to the roots: Classic zombies rising from the dead. It's not really explained why they rose (though there's a huge biblical emphasis), but everyone who dies or was dead is now reanimated. And perhaps even stranger, if you get bit, you don't turn! They've found a cure for the outbreak, or whatever was causing it, sort of. You're still undead: you can't eat, you can’t drink, you're still basically immortal as long as your head doesn't get chopped off, and you still LOOK like a zombie, but you have full access to your brain and can function like a normal human. That's pretty interesting! We've virtually never dealt with something like that before.
These PDS survivors can't function like normal humans. They can't have a drink at the pub, or sit down to dinner with their loved ones. But they also aren't limited to the rules of normal mortality; they can get stabbed or shot a lot and it won't affect them in the least. Do you accept this person back into society, this person who probably ate a few of your friends and relatives? How do you deal with being recently deceased? It raises a lot of interesting questions.
Also! The main character is Kieren and, not to spoil too much, let's just say: he is not a straight white male. How great is that, you guys?! It's a TV series in which the main character is a gay zombie! Rather… I mean, homosexual Partially Deceased Syndrome survivor. That's pretty great! Good luck seeing that on American television.
There's not a ton of action here; some brutality and death here and there but otherwise it's much more focused on the drama and interpersonal relationships. They use the post-zombie apocalypse to explore ideas like suicide, PTSD, acceptance, family, fitting in, religious intolerance, bigotry… all really heavy stuff. Bring some tissues, because this is going to cause some emotions to fly out. People be cryin’ all over the place! Which begs the question: can zombies cry? This is some Walking Dead (comic, not show) level character development where allegiances switch and you find out who people really are. The acting is pretty great all around, with Kieren and his immediate family doing most of the heavy lifting.
The make-up and production values are fairly great. Zombies look like classic zombies, and it's great to see zombies wearing too much make-up so they don't look like zombies. Unfortunately, with only three hour-long episodes, it's a short series. I can't wait until they make more! You should try to check it out somewhere if you can!
THE GOOD: Interesting idea, good make-up, great acting and drama, new take on zombies.
THE BAD: Too short and very emotional. EMOTIONS!
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ See it! If you like zombies and drama you'll love this. Basically it's post-Walking Dead.
MOVIES AND TV SHOWS LIKE IT: The Walking Dead, Shawn of the Dead, Dead Heads, Warm Bodies, Being Human
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Bill Macy is a hero from the Rising and he hates zombies with a passion. But when his son is revealed to be alive… partially… he has some trouble – a LOT of trouble – coming to terms with what it means and if he can treat his son as a person.