TV Review: Resurrection, Season 1 Episode 1 “The Returned”

Resurrection logo posterGenre: Drama | Fantasy

Creator: Aaron Zelman

Network: ABC

Air Date/Time: March 9, 2014, 9/8c

Written by: Jason Mott (based on novel), Aaron Zelman

Directed by: Charles McDougall

Cast: Omar Epps (“House”) as J. Martin Bellamy, Frances Fisher (“Titanic”) as Lucille Langston, Matt Craven (“Crimson Tide,” “A Few Good Men”) as Fred Langston, Devin Kelley (“Chernobyl Diaries,” “The Chicago Code”) as Maggie Langston, Mark Hildreth (“The Tudors”) as Pastor Tom Hale, Samaire Armstrong (“Entourage,” “The O.C.”) as Elaine Richards, Sam Hazeldine (“The Raven”) as Caleb Richards, Landon Gimenez as Jacob and Kurtwood Smith (“That ’70s Show”) as Henry Langston


The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to reappear, on the series premiere of Resurrection, SUNDAY, MARCH 9 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

In “The Returned,” an 8-year-old American boy (Landon Gimenez) wakes up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province with no idea how he got there. Details start to emerge when the boy, who calls himself Jacob, recalls that his hometown is Arcadia, and an Immigration agent, J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), takes him there. The home he claims as his own is occupied by a 60-year-old couple, Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher), who lost their son, Jacob, more than 30 years ago. While they look different, young Jacob recognizes them as his parents. Lucille is overjoyed at the seeming miracle of her son’s reappearance. Henry is reluctant to accept that Jacob is back. Those closest to the family want answers, including Sheriff Fred Langston (Matt Craven), whose wife Barbara drowned 30 years ago while trying to save Jacob, and Fred’s daughter, Maggie (Devin Kelley), a local doctor. Pastor Tom Hale (Mark Hildreth) seeks a spiritual reason for what’s happening in his community. When things take an even more shocking turn, Maggie’s life-long friend, Elaine Richards (Samaire Armstrong), finds herself drawn into Arcadia’s growing mystery.

TV Spot: Resurrection

There are two network series premiering within a day of each other: ABC‘s Resurrection on Sunday, March 9, and NBC’s Believe on at a special day and time, Monday, March 10. Starting the following Sunday, they’ll be on opposite each other, Sundays at 9/8c. Whether it’s because they each have a slight sci-fi tinge to them, or because they’re both network shows, or because the stars are in a certain alignment, they have each somehow managed to give near-entirely wrong impressions about the tone of each show.

As you can see from the promo above, Resurrection seems to be a sort of sweet, family, it’s-a-miracle kind of show. Believe, in its commercials, would seem to be a mysterious, heavily sci-fi show. Wrong on both counts, which unfortunately may mean that the wrong audiences will be tuning in to each. That’s a real shame, because both are good, solid, interesting, entertaining shows, as long as you watch them with either no specific expectations, or the appropriate ones.

Read the synopsis in red above, and ignore the marketing. The song they play on the promos, Skylar Gray’s “Coming Home”, gives exactly the wrong impression. This is no sweet homey Rockwell family show. This is an eye-widening, “oooOOooo!”-inspiring, quiet but interesting and intriguing small town drama, with some lovely twists. It is no Touch, or Touched by an Angel. Believe, on the other hand… well, you’ll see in my separate review of that series.

Resurrection is also no The Returned (the Sundance Channel), in spite of its strikingly similar theme, name, and even small town setting and creepy kid. Resurrection doesn’t have The Returned‘s edgy, intense, dark, relentlessly disturbing tone. Resurrection is definitely a network series, and therefore (combined with the absence of needing to read subtitles) might be more comfortable for many viewers than The Returned.

Resurrection does, however, toss in its own brand of creepiness, not only in the underlying ‘returned from the dead’ issue, but in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it twists that have definitely hooked me for the season. They’re not subtle, just quick, so if you are watching this show while, say, playing Words With Friends, you just may miss the best parts of the episode.

Beyond the creepiness, however, are other small town mysteries, backstories, and character development which will hopefully play out throughout the season, adding a richness and depth to the show, that, combined with the absolute pleasure of watching Frances Fisher and Kurtwood Smith work, should make for an enjoyable several weeks. I’ve already seen the second episode, and a bit of storyline from the third episode has been slipped into the latest TV spot, and it looks like what we get in the first episode, once it settles in to Arcadia, will continue into at least the near future.

In short, the first episode is cool. I like it. It’s a solid B for me, as are all network shows that I count amongst my favorites. Give it a try with me, and let’s see where it goes.

I give Resurrection, Season 1 Episode 1 “The Returned”, Four Out of Five Stars.



Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for