ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee was guilty of some wishful thinking this morning when he told TV critics he’s so proud of his network’s upcoming limited-series Resurrection because, among other things, it’s something he’s “not seeing on television at the moment.” Resurrection, premiering Sunday, March 9, is about a small town in Missouri in which people who have been dead for years have turned up alive again and not a day older than the day they died – starting with 8-year-old Jacob who died more than three decades earlier and suddenly turns up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province.
Days earlier, Sundance Channel announced it had renewed for a second season The Returned, about a small French town in which some of the residents one day get on with their lives, not realizing they’ve been dead for years. The French series is based on the 2004 French film called Les Revenants. The second season is about to go into production and will debut on Sundance in late 2014. And, if that’s not enough, A&E is developing an English-language adaptation of Les Revenants. ABC’s limited series is based on Jason Mott’s novel The Returned.
This led to a certain amount of confusion during the Resurrection Q&A at Winter TV Press Tour 2014. One critic asked the showrunners how happy were they that their series got on first – though Sundance actually beat it to the punch.
“I have never seen The Returned,” exec producer Michele Fazekas said of the Sundance series, explaining they knew about the other project “so I deliberately avoided it” so as not to be influenced by it. Resurrection co-star Kurtwood Smith, however, said he had seen the movie – but did not like it. “It’s quite different than our show,” he said, adding that “none of the characters” from that book, or TV series, are in the movie, which would seem to imply he’d seen the Sundance series.
My head hurts.
“It’s French, so a lot of depressed people have sex,” Smith said of the French movie. “The movie did not work very well for me. I got confused in the middle of it,” he added. Fazekas said she’s happy the ABC order is for an eight-episode limited series, though she said they probably could have done 13 episodes, “but more than that starts to dilute it,” she explained. And yet, the producers have pitched to ABC that Resurrection continue as an ongoing series. “When we pitched to the network what the show was, we pitched the last scene of the last episode of the series,” Fazekas said, without spilling the beans as to what is that last scene. “We have ideas for Season 2 and Season 3,” she said, adding, “I’m not worried about coming up with stories now…you can tell as many stories as you want.”
ABC’s series likewise doesn’t stick so close to Mott’s book, said Resurrection exec producer Aaron Zelman. “That book obviously is the impetus for the story but it is very much just a starting point,” he said. “Half the characters in the show are not in the book,” so as to give the series “more of an engine.” When he read the book, Zelman said he started out thinking it was sci fi, but realized half way through the read “this is a study of grief and loss…That’s when I was hooked.”