In Australia: Thursdays, 8.34pm (no, really), ABC
in the UK: Not yet acquired
The dead are coming back to life and this time they’re Australian! Well, most of them are, anyway.
Indeed, ABC’s new Glitch is exploring a path that the likes of Les Revenants, The Returned, Resurrection, Babylon Fields, et al have already trod well, with a small isolated town shaken up by the return of people once thought dead - thought dead because they actually were dead. And indeed, tonally, it’s very similar, being slow, thoughtful, consumed with the emotional impact of such a miraculous event and its real-world consequences.
So is there anything that makes Glitch different? Well, it’s Australian. That’s a bit different, isn’t it? And they all had to claw their way out of their own coffins, rather than just appear out of nowhere (although that’s Babylon Fields, too, now I think about it).
It’s also got a variety of dead people, including an Irishman and an Italian, although how big a variety is a bit tricky to say at this point, given most of them can’t even remember their surnames, let alone details about their lives. But certainly, as well as the recently deceased, there are zombies who died during the Second World War and even one who passed away during Victorian times. Are they coming back at random or because of what they can say about Australian history (this is ABC, after all)?
There’s also some comedy, surprisingly enough, with the Victorian Irishman (Ned Dennehy) being something of an ‘hilarious', slightly racist alcoholic and getting into all kinds of scrapes with his new, teenage aboriginal partner in crime (Aaron McGrath from The Code, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Gods of Wheat Street).
And lastly, there appears to be a rule that if the dead try to leave town, their eyes start to bleed and they revert back to dust. Or maybe it’s if they return to where they were killed. The rule’s not yet clear.
But otherwise, if you’ve watched any of the shows listed above, you’ll know what to expect: a prestige production with some lovely filming in some lovely locations, with people really getting to act and do tragedy because their dead wife’s back and they just loved her so much.
The cast is strong, including Patrick Brammall (Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch War, Upper Middle Bogan, The Moodys) and Emma Booth (Underbelly). The central premise doesn’t quite feel like a retread of previous shows. There’s a slight tension from Brammall’s attempts to keep everything secret from the rest of the town, including his suspicious sergeant (Andrew McFarlane), as well as another character who doesn’t show until right at the end of the first episode.
And there are the central mysteries of who the remaining characters are and why everyone’s coming back from the dead - which the show’s characters do at least seem moderately interested in, which is more than you could say of Resurrection's.
Yet despite the short run (all six episodes are now available on iView), I’m not sure how tempted I am to watch the rest of it. There’s something of an allure to it and with Thursdays looking a little light at the moment, I might be tempted to tune in. But the whole thing lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Perhaps because what it’s offering just isn’t new any more.