×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Resurrection’

With:

Omar Epps, Frances Fisher, Matt Craven, Devin Kelley, Mark Hildreth, Samaire Armstrong, Sam Hazeldine, Landon Gimenez, Kurtwood Smith

Resurrection” has such a provocative concept and a well-cast pilot that the temptation is to hang on hopefully for the ride, albeit with a measure of skepticism regarding how much life, renewed or otherwise, the producers can mine from the premise. Dealing with thorny issues of religion and faith while wrapped in a central existential mystery, the show’s real challenge will be how long it can explore the notion of a child returning from the dead, unchanged, 32 years later, and keep it dramatically contained, given what that would truly mean in today’s wired, digitally connected world.

Having been given an Oscar-telecast push, this is one of those ABC projects that deserves ample praise for its conceptual daring, but often winds up disappointing in the execution. Fortunately, a second hour somewhat broadens the show’s riddle, while indicating that any answers will be disgorged slowly. Ah well, humanity has waited this long for the mystery of an afterlife to be resolved; what’s a few more seasons?

The series opens with an innocent-looking boy (Landon Gimenez) awakening, inexplicably, in the middle of China. After the U.S. feds get involved, the silent kid gradually leads them toward the heartland, where the immigration agent (Omar Epps) assigned to the case brings him to the home of Henry and Lucille Langston (Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher, both splendid as usual), who inform the agent that their son, Jacob, died 32 years ago.

Questions arise. How can this child be theirs? Will the family be able to accept him back into their lives? And if they’ve ever read or seen Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” will they feel compelled to sleep with one eye open?

These, along with the more obvious how and why, are the most personal and probing aspects of the series, based on a book by Jason Mott and adapted by Aaron Zelman (“Damages”). Yet there are countless other threads to consider, beginning with how the wider world would respond to reports of a genuine resurrection, and a clamoring for the boy in media that would practically force him and his family into seclusion.

Moreover, the series begins to plant the seeds of a cold-case subplot regarding how Jacob died that risks dragging the focus off the faith-shaking issue of someone returning from the dead into a more prosaic mystery.

In other words, “Resurrection” could go in a lot of different directions. Yet the expansiveness of that palette is also littered not only with abundant internal creative traps, but also external ones: The show’s road could be complicated by running afoul of faith-based groups who are easily riled by mainstream entertainment — or, conversely, be so mindful about not offending as to lobotomize those areas that make the pilot so intriguing.

As is, Smith and Fisher deliver heartfelt moments as the confused parents, grappling with reopened wounds and other grown children to consider. The show also feels inherently commercial, in the way “Lost” initially was, as opposed to something like the considerably creepier French series “The Returned,” which recently found a subtitled U.S. home on Sundance Channel.

If “Resurrection” fulfills even half its potential, it could easily become the most compelling drama on an ABC lineup that has become almost comically soapy — with series like “Scandal” and “Revenge” lustily embracing their camp qualities.

Unlike Jacob, however, one fatal step and the chances of a second shot at things are slim. And while it’s never wise to become too attached to a fledgling series, here’s a small prayer that doesn’t happen.

TV Review: 'Resurrection'

(Series; ABC, Sun. March 9, 9 p.m.)

Production:

Filmed in Georgia by Plan B and Brillstein Entertainment in association with ABC Studios.

Crew:

Executive producers, Aaron Zelman, Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, JoAnn Alfano, Dan Attias, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Jon Liebman; producer, Lynn Raynor; director, Charles McDougall; writer, Zelman; based on the book “The Returned” by Jason Mott; camera, Terry Stacey; production designer, Clark Hunter; editor, Henk Van Eeghen; music, Blake Neely; casting, Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Jennifer Smith. 60 MIN.

Cast:

Omar Epps, Frances Fisher, Matt Craven, Devin Kelley, Mark Hildreth, Samaire Armstrong, Sam Hazeldine, Landon Gimenez, Kurtwood Smith

More TV

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: Rabbit in the

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Feb. 11: 'Masked Singer' Easily Tops Competition

    Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated broadcast show of the week in both Live+Same Day and Live+3. For the week of Feb. 11, the unscripted singing competition series went from a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 to a 3.4, a rise of 42%. In total viewers, the show went from 7.8 million viewers to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content