TV Review: Resurrection

Reviewed by Sam Robinson

[Stars: 3/5]

When I first saw the promos for new US drama Resurrection, my feelings towards it were mixed. I had hope for an intriguing new series and suspected it may be a wild ride with many plot twists along the way. But at the same time, I feared it would become another convoluted mystery that loses its way (The Event, FlashForward, even Heroes).

The pilot episode, The Returned, aired last night in Australia and it seems that all of the above may well be true.

Resurrection opens on a young boy waking up in a field in China. Soon we discover that his name is Jacob Langston, and he had actually died thirty-two years earlier. He is flown to the US and meets Immigration Agent Bellamy who through some awkward dialogue asks the obvious: ‘How did you end up in China?’ He then asks where Jacob is from. ‘Arcadia,’ Jacob replies. ‘Arcadia, Missouri,’ Agent Bellamy assumes, after looking at the kid’s Missouri shirt. Turns out this is the first show set in a town named Arcadia since pun-based Joan of Arcadia.

OK – so the script might not be brilliant – but soon Jacob is reunited with his parents who can’t believe their eyes. For thirty-two years they believed their son was dead, and soon other people in the town are questioning how a boy could appear out of the blue, unaged and unphased. DNA tests are taken and it appears to be the truth – Jacob Langston is back from the dead.

How? Why? Where has he been? Did he ever really die? Why hasn’t he aged? And why doesn’t anyone give the kid some new clothes? All these questions are left unanswered, and hopefully the writers know where they’re headed and will unravel answers as the series progresses. It’s also hinted that perhaps Jacob isn’t the only dead-come-alive person that will show up in Arcadia…

A big idea underlying this episode is belief and doubt. When Jacob shows up, people struggle to comprehend that this could be the same boy that had been dead for so long. His parents are rocked to the core. Jacob’s father Henry goes and sits by Jacob’s tomb (yes, not a grave, a tomb) and is asked the question, ‘Do you want to believe?’

Resurrection (even the title alone) should remind us of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Even producers seem to want to allude to this by giving Jacob a tomb. When Jesus died on the cross, he was buried in a tomb, and three days later his tomb was discovered empty. By this point, his followers were grieving, but suddenly, the risen Jesus appears and starts interacting with people. They then had to decide – will they believe or doubt? Just like the residents of Arcadia, Jesus’ followers had the same rub-your-eyes moments of shock. Luke 24:36-40:

And as they were saying these things, He Himself stood among them. He said to them,“Peace to you!” But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. “Why are you troubled?” He asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet.

Jesus had power over death and his followers took some time to grasp that. But we too need to let this reality sink deep. Jesus is risen from the dead. He has defeated sin and death and he now sits raised at the right hand of God. Some will respond with doubt, but for those who believe Jesus died and was resurrected in order to show his defeat of sin and death, he promises forgiveness and life – we can have assurance that Jesus will raise us from the dead too!

Resurrection isn’t television that will blow you away (for a more compelling small-town mystery drama, I recommend Under the Dome) but it does help us to consider our belief and doubts. I’m giving it three out of five stars.

Resurrection airs Tuesdays at 8:45pm on the Seven Network in Australia (catch up here); and Sundays at 9pm ET on ABC in the US. Rated M.

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