So I somehow got wind of In the Flesh while watching Orphan Black and I saw a preview for it and I thought to myself, “It’s about zombies and it’s BBC and the British always do good stuff with their television shows so maybe my Dad and I would like it.” So, I got myself a copy and I started watching it.
I was blown away. At the end of Season 1, I was bawling like a baby, crying my eyes out, and repeatedly telling my Dad, “It’s so good. It’s so good.” And he was agreeing with me.
We then watched the second season together and by the finale, I was bawling my eyes out again, sobbing, and chanting, “It’s so good. It’s so good.” And my Dad was agreeing with me again.
I really love this show.
The show is set in England, in a small Lancashire village, after an event called The Rising, where the dead have come back to life as zombies. After years of war and survival, scientists have found a way to return the zombies back into cognizant beings with their memories intact. They are re-introduced into society and returned to their families and homes but never always to the happiest of results.
In this small Lancashire village, where the first wave of undead have come back, tensions are high as provincial sensibilities do not take so kindly to the returned undead, no matter how human they appear.
The story follows Kieren Walker, a partially-deceased syndrome sufferer or PDSS (as they are now called, for political correctness) as he returns to his home and to his family who has suffered his loss and must now deal with his return.
Coming into the show, I got the impression that it was a comedy. But as the show began, what I discovered was that while it is funny in some moments, and even the whole idea of a former zombie reintegrating into human civilisation, the truth of the matter is that it is a beautifully intense character study on forgiveness, relationships, bigotry, discrimination, stigma, and morality. The show culls all of this through fantastic character sketches of a fully realised community who must deal with these extraordinary circumstances that they find themselves in.
Luke Newberry plays Kieren Walker and he is amazing. He deftly grapples with the emotions running through a person who was, at one point, a zombie and must deal with having to face the people he once terrorised just a few years back. There is a vulnerability to him that grabs you early on but he plays it with so much awareness which is key to his character and why his character is so appealing to the other characters. You can see why the story centres around him. As the show progresses, we see him gain strength and despite the multiple contact lenses he uses throughout the show, his eyes betray the growing conviction in his character’s development. It is an amazing sense of screen presence that makes his character so loveable and effective.
The rest of the cast matches Newberry scene for scene, most notably his mother Sue (played by Marie Critchley) and the townsfolk, like the conflicted Philip (played by Stephen Thompson). Also, pulling no punches and acting a storm is Emily Bevan, who plays Amy Dyer, another recently undead returned to her old self and who serves as striking contrast to Kieren’s confused and brooding nature. Amy is a force of nature and is happy to be back in the land of the living.
What makes the show truly magnificent is the crisp and pretty flawless writing by creator Dominic Mitchell. In the Flesh is not some gimmicky novelty show about zombies. It’s not like Warm Bodies that plays with the genre in order to deliver a different kind of love story. In the Flesh is a deep character study that explores the depths of human nature and behaviour and tries to illustrate how societies, communities, families, and individuals must navigate the very rough territories of conflicting beliefs, stigma, and discrimination.
In the Flesh immediately brings up shades of all kinds of othering whether it is sexual preference, race, religion, or any other reason that people alienate and segregate another person. It brings about emotions and thoughts of people coming back from rehab or jail and having to face society all over again. It brings to mind the way the Jews were badly treated in the past. It brings to mind the uphill battle the LGBT community had to fight for equality. It brings to mind all these horrible things and so much more.
In the Flesh is filled with humanity. Each character is fully realised, through the writing and the amazing acting, and every action and emotion is properly motivated. There is nothing that happens in the show that you can’t find the reasoning behind it in a previous scene or episode. Everything is so integrated. It’s amazing and as each dramatic scene bursts through, the scene helps define and develop the character and the plot at the same time.
The show is just so freaking good. It’s unbelievably good and I wish that more and more people buy the DVD or buy the show off of iTunes or Netflix so that people will see that quality television is worth producing. Because, if anything, In the Flesh is quality programming. I will be hard pressed to find a supernatural drama as good as this. Penny Dreadful comes to mind. The Fades is another. But I can’t think of any that is in this level, really.
In the Flesh is fantastic. You have to watch it. You just have to.