March 17, 2014

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Resurrection”



A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on RESURRECTION:  8-year old Jacob Langston (Landon Giminez) wakes up one morning in a Chinese rice paddy–32 years after he died in Arcadia, Missouri.  That’s a mystery, and so are the circumstances of his death, which occurred when he plunged into the local river after his aunt, contrary to the story everyone in town believes, that she died trying to save him.  ICE agent Marty Bellamy (Omar Epps) brings the newly revived Jacob home to his now-senior citizen parents Lucille (Frances Fisher) and Henry (Kurtwood Smith), and works with local doctor Maggie (Devin Kelley), Jacob’s cousin who was just a baby when he and her mother died, to try and figure out what’s going on, while Maggie’s father Fred (Matt Craven) tries to deny that any of it is happening.  Meanwhile, at the end of the pilot, Caleb Richards (Sam Hazeldine), father of Maggie’s best friend Elaine (Samaire Armstrong), also returned from the dead.

Episode 2:  Resurrection is going to be one of those series that tease out the answers to their mysteries over a long, long time.  It’s a tough feat to sustain:  Lost made it work for 6 seasons by constantly introducing new mysteries, widening its scope, enriching its characters and playing clever games with chronology and structure, but it was very much the exception to the rule.  For Resurrection, it may mean a lot more episodes like tonight’s second effort, which ran slowly in place for most of its length before coming up with a zinger in the last 30 seconds.

The hour, written by Co-Executive Producer Thomas Schnauz and directed by Dan Attias, was mostly concerned with Marty’s attempt to have Jacob’s body exhumed so that its DNA could be compared with the newly living boy’s, and then the show coyly refused to show the contents of his coffin until next week.  (Marty also coped with what will probably be his weekly call from the home office asking what he thought he was doing out in Arcadia.)  Meanwhile, there was more about little Jacob and his parents assimilating, highlighted by the local pastor (Mark Hildreth), who’d been his best friend as a child, introducing him to video games.  After some thought, Lucille decided not to pass Jacob off as a young relative, but rather to let the town know who he actually (seemingly) is.

The storyline involving the Richards family was somewhat more promising (and more reminiscent of the French series The Returned, on which Resurrection is resolutely not based), because Caleb, as an adult, has more of a backstory than Jacob can.  Caleb’s troubled son Ray (Travis Young) is certain that this new arrival isn’t really his father, while Caleb was trying to dig up something in the dirt where he’d had his fatal heart attack, and the last scene had him attacking someone unknown with a hammer.

The line between creepiness and heartwarming sentimentality is going to be a hard one to walk (The Returned opted for creepiness alone), and it would help if Marty and Maggie were more than merely pleasant protagonists, which is what they are so far, and if the show had some whiff of a sense of humor.  The good news for Resurrection is that it will have plenty of time to figure itself out:  last Sunday’s debut was the highest-rated network premiere since Agents of SHIELD, and even if the ratings erode the way SHIELD‘s have since September, with only a couple of months left in the season, and considering how the rest of ABC’s dramas are floundering, Resurrection already has an excellent chance to be renewed for fall.  For now, it’s more intriguing than satisfying, but intriguing will work–for a while.


PILOT + 1:  Slow Going, At Least For Now

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."