Zombies, vampires and dictators

This week on TV.

Zombies, vampires and dictator. (photo credit: PR)
Zombies, vampires and dictator.
(photo credit: PR)
If you’re impatient to return to the zombie apocalypse that is AMC’s The Walking Dead on October 12 for its fifth season (and the even scarier French series Les Revenants, which won’t be back till 2015), you might want to check out In the Flesh, which starts on HOT VOD on September 17.
This BAFTA-award winning drama from the BBC combines elements of The Walking Dead and all the other zombie shows and movies with a key theme of the recently concluded True Blood – how those who are different are treated by society.
In the Flesh opens after the zombie epidemic – called the Rising – is over. Doctors have found a way to medicate zombies, who are now said to be suffering from “partially deceased syndrome.” These partially deceased still have weird eyes and skin, but those can be covered up by contacts and makeup. More of a problem are the flashbacks to their flesh-eating days brought on by their medication cocktail, which the rehabilitated zombies find guilt-inducing, as you might expect.
The show focuses on Kieran (Luke Newberry), a guy from an ordinary, middle-class family who committed suicide at the age of 18 for reasons that are telegraphed pretty early on. He is apprehensive about returning to his parents (Steve Cooper and Marie Critchley), but they are eager to have him back. What they don’t tell Kieren is that their town still harbors a group of the Human Volunteer Army, a militia that stepped up to save humanity when the government failed. HVA members are violently opposed to any of the former zombies being returned to the community. His sister, Jem (Harriet Cains), was one of the bravest of the HVA. At first, she won’t even be in the same room with her brother, but then becomes confused and ultimately accepting in a nice scene where he shares childhood memories with her.
Subsequent episodes focus on what it’s like for the town’s residents to celebrate Hallowe’en after they have battled real monsters, and give Kieren a new friend (Emily Bevan), a fellow PDS sufferer who refuses to hide in her home.
The series is somewhere in between Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead, and the zombie-as-other metaphor gets heavy handed at times. But it’s well acted and a fresh take on a subject you might have thought was all played out.
The long, strange trip that was True Blood has just ended after seven seasons, but you can still catch it on YES VOD. It was the sexiest, silliest and most fun series that the new Golden Age of Television ever offered up.
Another show that ended but is being revived on YES Oh, starting tonight, is Breaking Bad. The series, about a chemistry teacher turned meth-cooking kingpin, won big at the Emmys this year, including Outstanding Drama Series and prizes for all its stars (Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul). Tune in if you missed it or want to re-experience this strange but often brilliant show.
The fate of Tyrant, the F/X series about the Americanized son of a Middle Eastern dictator who is drawn back into his country’s brutal politics, hangs in the balance.
Although the show, which just finished its first season on YES Oh, has many problems – not the least of which being is that it had to move its base of operations from Israel to Turkey due to the war – I can’t help rooting for it, if only because it has some meaty roles for several Israeli actors. Ashraf Barhom, as the weak, evil son, Jamal, the counterpart to lead actor Adam Rayner’s good liberal Barry (Basam), was the standout; but Salim Daw, a wonderful character actor, has a good role as the late dictator’s most trusted adviser, and Moran Atias was appropriately sultry as Jamal’s neglected but ambitious wife. It was also interesting to see Mohammad Bakri, one of Israel’s best actors, back on screen, after he spent a decade making some very low-profile films. He had a threeepisode arc as Sheikh Rashid, who was costumed like Muammar Gaddafi.
But although it’s understandable to root for these local actors, the writing was flat and talky. Let’s hope that gets fixed if Tyrant gets a second season.