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February 12, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-12

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bA - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

I hope there's toilet paper.
'Les Revenants'
reinvents zombies

French series
presents a fresh
take on the undead
DailyArts Writer
If you've been watching ABC
lately, you might have noticed
some cryptic ads for its new televi-
sion series "Resurrection." While
I can't speak for the quality of the
networks latest attempt at a dra-
matic hint, I can give a glowing
recommendation to the French
series it's based off of: "Les Rev-
enants," or "The Returned."
Set in a small mountain
town, "Les Revenants" follows
a group of seemingly unrelated
people who have come back
from the dead, unchanged
since their deaths. Those that
have "returned" seem perfectly
healthy and have no memory of
being dead. They do, however,
have some rather suspicious
characteristics, as they don't
sleep and have voracious
But typical zombie story this is
not. Those that have "returned"
are not so concerned with how
they actually came back, but
rather the focus of the show is on
their struggle to return to their
old lives and loved ones who have
done their best to move on from
their deaths.
15-year-old Camille, who died
in a bus accident on a school trip
four years prior, returns home

to find her parents separated -
driven apart by her death - and
her twin sister Lena, now 19, a
hard-drinking misfit suffering9
from severe guilt after faking
sick to stay home the day of the
accident and surviving.
Next comes the little boy
Victor, who was killed along with
the rest of his family in a home
invasion 30 years prior. Victor
definitely fulfills the creepy little
kid requirement, as he hardly
says a word and also seems to
possess more mystical ability
than any of the other "returned."
He forms a close relationship
with Laure, a nurse who survived
a brutal attack some years earlier.
Then there's Serge, a serial
killer who terrorized the town
by murdering several women and
eating their internal organs. He
is only stopped when he himself
is murdered. Serge stays with his
older brother Toni, a bartender
who's been trying to keep his
brother's dark secrets in the past.
And then there is Simon, per-
haps the most interesting of the
"returned." Simon was a bride-
groom set to marry the pregnant
Adele, the love of his life, when he
died ten years prior. Simon tries
to reunite with Adele, but finds
she is soon to be married to local
Gendarmerie captain Thomas,
,who has become a de facto father
to his daughter Chloe.
There are many more
"returned," but we have yet to
hear their stories.
Concurrent with all these
plotlines are mysterious power

outages and the ever-decreasing
water level of the town's
reservoir, revealing the remains
of the village that had been
flooded decades before, along
with several dead animals.
"The Returned" exists in
a uniquely dark atmosphere,
playing as both a surrealist
thriller and a soul-wrenching
tragedy. Yes, there are moments
that send shivers down your
spine and make you jump in
fright. But what stays with you
after the screen has gone dark
is grief. It explores the ways
in which people experience
mourning and death, how they
are fundamentally changed by it,
but in a way remain the same.
From the music and
cinematography to the pacing
and plot, everything works in
conjunction to create a haunting,
sophisticated sense of ambiguity.
Even the setting, a small isolated
town in the Alps, leaves the
viewer questioning whether or
not they can trust this reality.
The only worrying aspect of
"The Returned" is its similarity
to a show like "Lost." For every
one question answered in the
most base of terms, ten more rise
up, until it seems like there's no
possible way producers will be
able to come up with a satisfy-
ing ending. Oh well, it's a good
enough show to take the risk on.
With only eight episodes in
season one, "The Returned" is
perfect for a weekend binge. Plus
watching things with subtitles
makes you smarter. It's a fact.

Farrah Fawcett hair.
Star-studded cast can't
save 'Spoils of B abylon'

Daily TV/New Media Editor
"The Spoils of Babylon" is
"nothing less than a masterpiece,"
according to Eric Jonrosh, the
story's fictional
author and
creator. In this
parody of the The SpiIis
miniseries of of Babylon
the 1970s and
'80s, Will Ferrell IFC
plays Jonrosh, a
pretentious and overweight drunk
who graces the silver screen with
his epic novel-turned-miniseries.
With purposely-laughable
production quality, ridiculous
costumes and a semi-incestuous
romance at its heart, "Spoils"
definitely shows promise as a
satire. In terms of actual laughs,
though, it doesn't quite live up to
its "epic" reputation.
Jonas Morehouse (Tim
Robbins, "The Shawshank
Redemption") is apoor oil driller
who lives in middle-of-nowhere
Texas with his daughter, Cynthia
(Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids").
A hardworking optimist, Jonas

spends every day in the field,
searching for oil so he can save
his estate and family. One day
he comes across an orphan boy
named Devon (Tobey Maguire,
"The Great Gatsby") and, out
of the goodness of his heart,
adopts him as his own. As Devon
integrates into the family, a
forbidden romance between he
and his adoptive sister begins to
blossom. "The Spoils of Babylon"
follows Cynthia and Devon
through the ups and downs of
their love affair over the course
of several decades.
The performances in "Spoils"
are undoubtedly the highlight
of the series. The humor is right
in Wiig's wheelhouse. Like in
"Saturday Night Live" 's "Cali-
fornians" sketch, her exagger-
ated facial expressions and
body movements make a perfect
match for the melodramatic par-
ody. Maguire also delivers a sur-
prisingly commendable comedic
performance, playing a char-
acter he describes as a satirical
version of Nick Carraway from
"The Great Gatsby." Even the
more "serious" guest stars, like
Val Kilmer and Tim Robbins, are
totally game, most notably the
criminally underused Michael
Sheen, who plays Wiig's hus-
band in one episode and may be
the best part of this entire series.
Unfortunately, great perfor-
mances aren't enough to sup-
port a flimsy script. The campy
humor succeeds in parodying a
genre, but fails to consistentiy
reach heights that transcend
the context of that parody. Per-
haps some of the humor is lost on
me, a millennial college student
who wasn't even alive during the
height of miniseries popularity,
but the entire six-episode collec-
tion feels a bit stretched - like
an overlong "SNL" sketch that
could use a caffeine injection.
The funniest moments
occur when the show embraces
absurdity - like when Cynthia
and Lady Anne (voiced by
Carey Mulligan, "Inside Llewyn
Davis"), who is a mannequin and
Devon's wife, have a showdown
over brunch at the Morehouse
estate. Never mind the fact that
she is literally a hunk of plastic

and no one acknowledges it; the
permanently placid expression
on Lady Anne's face while she
and Cynthia swap insults is
hilarious when juxtaposed with
Wiig's famously dynamic face.
The show grows tiresome
when it fails to provide a creative
punch line to overused parody
tropes. Episode three features a
drawn out black and white scene
during which Devon tries to kick
his heroin addiction. In episode
four, Jessica Alba trots around in
lingerie as "Dixie Melonworth."
There are too many already-
parodied situations like these
that fail to accomplish the
ultimate goal of breathing a new
life into an old genre.
A spoiled
"The Spoils of Babylon" is
frustrating mostly because it
feels like a wasted opportunity.
With its massive amount of star
power and relatively low stakes
(considering it is only 6-episodes
long and not necessarily looking
to get picked up for another
season) one would hope for
riskier content. Writer-director
duo Andrew Steele and Matt
Piedmont (both alums of the
"SNL" writers' room) are funny
when they take the content to
bizarre levels. Otherwise, "The
Spoils of Babylon" is merely a
parody of a genre few people
remember or really care about.
At only about three hours
in length total, "Spoils" is
made up of six 22-minute
installments, and that is just
the right amount. Is it worth
binge-watching at home while
cleaning your room? Probably.
Does it call for more works of its
kind? Probably not. "The Spoils
of Babylon" is a fun attempt at
parody, but after its short stint
on the air, the comedy well has
run dry. As Will Ferrell's Eric
Jonrosh reminds us in the final
installment, "When the wine is
gone, it's time to go home. That's
the rule."

Call: #734-418-4115
Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com


RELEASE DATE- Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle

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diamond is
assigned a10"
5 Owl's question?
12 The Sego Lilp is
its statelflower
13 Map out
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by Nartissus

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carrier plane
21 Iowa native
23 Tax-sheltered
nest egg
25 Hippydance
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who won eight
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40 Quiet "Quiet!"
43 "Ulysses" actor
44 Quaint pronoun
45 "Isn't bit like
you and me?":
Beatles lyric
46 Solvers' cries
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