In the Flesh (written by newly-discovered writer Dominic Mitchell and directed by Jonny Campbell who has previously worked on Doctor Who) is an imaginative new three episode drama from the BBC, currently in production, charts the events that follow one startling night when the dead rise and, as the undead are want to do, cause all manner of havoc, mayhem and death.
But in an interesting twist on the whole zombie apocalypse scenario, society isn’t brought wholly undone by the rise of this new class of person, officially tagged as Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) Sufferers, and instead, after their capture and rehabilitation – including some no doubt much needed cosmetic make up and specially adapted contact lenses – the survivors are welcomed back to their families and loved ones.
But of course, as you might have guessed, it isn’t quite as simple as that.
The PDS Sufferers, who committed unspeakable acts when they were in their full zombie state are not only struggling to cope with the guilt they inevitably feel for their past murderous actions, are also trying to come to terms with the dislocation of going from life to death to some weird halfway state inbetween the two.
And of course, there is the inevitable prejudice and bigotry that always goes hand-in-hand with any major upheavals in society, and as upheavals go – at least the ones where civilisation isn’t vanquished by apocalyptic events – they don’t come much bigger than this.
The premise suggests to me a mix of The Walking Dead meets True Blood, and alludes to what I expect will be an exploration of the dynamics within the families of the survivors and society as a whole, and whether the PDS sufferers can truly ever be a part of mainstream society again.
It is seeking to accomplish what I imagine is a fairly weighty ambition by focusing primarily on teenager Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry, Anna Karenina, Doctors) who commits suicide after his best friend Rick Macy (David Walmsley) is killed in Afghanistan, and is re-animated, along with Rick on that fateful night.
Certain they would never see Kieren again, and unaware of why he took his life in the first place, his family and friends, and according to the official synopsis quoted on cultbox.co.uk, “a village that always rejected him” must now deal with his reappearance, along with that of Rick, a fellow PDS Sufferer.
It promises the sort of high level concept drama, full of humanity and rich with emotion, that the British excel at, with director Jonny Campbell describing it like this, again on cultbox.co.uk (a brilliant site by the way which is well worth checking out):
“From the moment I read the opening scene I was hooked. Dominic is an utterly fearless and instinctive young writer with an uncanny ability to tell a great story full of humour and humanity in a most original way. An elusive and rare combination in TV drama. What’s most exciting about In The Flesh is that it challenges our pre-conceptions about the standard zombie genre and in so doing almost certainly creates a new one.”
It does indeed sound like an imaginatively fresh take on the whole zombie phenomena and promises rich viewing days ahead for those of who love our semi-apocalyptic drama served up with a substantial dose of the undead.