Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In The Flesh: Episode 3 - TVReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

"There is no denying that In The Flesh is the kind of television drama needed."

Set in the fictional English village of Roarton, the final part was all about departure (as Amy Dyer - portrayed by Emily Bevan - said an emotional farewell), revenge (Bill Macey's execution at the hands of Ken Burton), and a family reunited (this has always been the heart of the tale). In other ways, Part Three felt rushed...

It was always going to be interesting, seeing just how this tale of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) sufferers being returned to the community would work out, and on the whole writer Dominic Mitchell has worked a miracle; In The Flesh is perfect original entertainment, offering more than just a zombie rising and scenes of gore as they eat their way through the residents of Roarton. Instead, the zombies are not traditional zombies at all but victims of PDS, which caused them to rise from their graves and, yes, eat the residents of Roarton. But we see this purely as flashbacks.

The tale handed to us as a slice of BBC Three entertainment focuses on rehabilitation as "Rotters" are treated, before being permitted to see their friends and families. Reintegration. This, in itself, is dangerous - members of the HVF (Human Volunteer Force) are on the look out for any "Rotter" and will likely shoot to kill, which is precisely what happened to Ken's wife in one disturbing consequence.

Ricky Tomlinson as Ken Burton

Without going into too much past detail (see reviews for In The Flesh), it was clear from day one that 18-year-old Kieren Walker's relationship with his parents and sister Jem was always going to be resolved in a positive way - it would be heartbreaking not to; Jemima Walker (played by the talented Harriet Cains) had shown hostility toward her brother from the moment he first returned and yet... she was far from being a cold-hearted participator of the HVF, nor did she harbour the same feelings of disgust that someone like HVF leader Bill displayed - this was apparent many times, including her reaction to the killing of Ken Burton's PDS suffering wife at the conclusion of the opening episode. It is therefore heartfelt, during a flashback, that we discover Jem's reluctance to destroy her own brother during a moment in his untreated state, following the rising.

Kieren's parents, too (portrayed by Marie Critchley and Steve Cooper) had to finally face the reality of their new life - the latter, Steve (who had discovered his son's body following the suicide that would eventually lead to Kieren's PDS condition), had suppressed so much emotion that he was finally able to let rip. This was encouraged by Kieren, as father and son were finally able to engage in a way not seen since Kieren's rising. Add to that the beautiful scene between mother and son, as Sue exchanges such a perfect moment of comfort in the cave where Kieren had originally died, "This time, you live, you don’t leave, you stay" in response to her son's loss...

...and this is where the story regained its cruel footing - the murder of PDS sufferer Rick Macey (David Walmsley), at the hands of his own father! As with Ken Burton's wife, this was a tragic set of events as Bill's twisted sense of morality finally urged him to take action and destroy the doppelganger that had dared to live in his home, taking the place of his deceased son. This, of course, was followed by the equally shock shooting of Bill, as Ken (whose presence in Part Two had been sadly lacking) finally sought the justice he felt was deserved. Brutal, and perhaps a little empty with its execution (pun intended); perhaps a scene depicting Ken's arrest would have balanced out the story, demonstrating that a "Rotter" is not protected by law - hence Bill's heartless actions receiving no legal comeuppance...

Kieren's old hunting partner Amy didn't have too much to sink her teeth in to with the final episode, instead choosing to leave Roarton. However, once more this scene was touched with genuine passion as both Bevan and Luke Newberry said their farewells. Seeing Luke confronting his own demons, facing his nightmares head on by visiting the parents of one of his victims also demonstrated the power of the script writing.

Perhaps three parts were never quite enough, as there was so much more that should have been developed further. However, that said, there is no denying that In The Flesh is the kind of television drama needed. Indeed, writer Mitchell must be congratulated on his vision - a debut in more ways than one...

Thank goodness for ‘Northern Voices’, the BBC Writersroom scheme that gave us, the viewers, an opportunity to enjoy the skills of a very talented man. And, equally, a very talented team that brought his world to life.