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'Resurrection' review: Life and death

The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed

The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to reappear, on the series premiere of "Resurrection." Credit: ABC / Bob Mahoney

THE SHOW "Resurrection"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC/7

WHAT IT'S ABOUT A little boy awakes with a start. He's lying in a field, a water buffalo is nearby. He is in China and he is Jacob (Landon Gimenez), an 8-year-old who died more than 30 years earlier in Arcadia, Mo. The boy is returned to the States, where he comes (naturally) to the attention of Immigration, and one officer in particular, J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), who brings the boy back to Arcadia, where his initially shocked -- then overjoyed -- parents, now 60, embrace their son. But Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher) have the same question everyone else has: Why? That "why" multiplies many times over when more of the dearly departed return to Arcadia.

MY SAY "Resurrection" is based on Jason Mott's 2013 best-seller, "The Returned," which also happened to bear a considerable likeness to a French TV miniseries -- Sundance's "The Returned" -- which was itself based on a 2004 French film, "They Came Back."

So watch this and experience a bit of deja-vu-all-over-again (again). As with "The Returned," this is not a zombie apocalypse but an eschatological mystery wrapped in an eschatological mystery.

Is this all some sort of Book of Revelation prophecy ... or are pesky aliens somehow involved? (Yes, distant echoes of "The 4400" are here, too.) Those familiar with the Mott book probably know the answer -- no spoilers, please -- but Sunday's pilot does do a nice job of quickly setting the guessing game in motion.

It's all predicated on a desperately sad premise -- the death of a child -- but "Resurrection" doesn't tarry on the cruel emotional blow of this, and instead moves quickly on to other mysteries, such as how the child died, and what he witnessed before he died, and why a strange man is lingering about town. And speaking of lingering, this question remains: Why?

By title alone, "Resurrection" also would seem to presume a spiritual element, which is highly unusual for prime-time TV. That's hinted at as well Sunday night.

BOTTOM LINE Yes, this is all very familiar -- Sundance's "The Returned" was better, by the way -- but there are still solid hints of an engaging series.


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