March 5, 2014

Blu-ray Essentials: The Returned: Season One (TV, 2013)
The Returned (Les Revenants): Season One (2013)
Music Box Films
Price: Currently $32.96 on Amazon (click pic above to order.)
50 GB Blu-ray Disc
2 Disc Set
French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
Region: A

Les Revenants marks the first time that we've ever watched a French Language TV Show. French movies? We've seen more than our share of those, because they are plentiful, and easily accessible to foreigners like us. There aren't many French TV Shows that we've even heard of though, which is why we were so happy to have found this atmospheric little gem.

The Returned is the story of a small French town that is shaken to its core when a small group of people believed to be dead, show up one day as if nothing has happened; they don't know that they are dead, and their loved ones can't begin to understand how they can be alive. For some, it has been decades since they died, for others, only a few years, but all of their re-appearances send shock-waves throughout the small mountain community,, in different ways... and that's all we're going to say. It's plot points are really better left to be discovered by you, in as much of a natural manner as possible.

"Jean Luc Pierre Remy Francois? But how is thees possible!"
Truth be told, we were absolutely hooked after the first scene in episode one. That "holy shit!" moment set the bar for everything that was to follow after, and none of it disappointed. The show's concept, acting, and visual aesthetic are all top notch. It's a gorgeous and intriguing as it is creepy and unsettling. The way that it twists and turns throughout kept us at full attention for all eight of its episodes, and left us wanting more. It was a unique viewing experience, to say the least.

The Returned has atmosphere and mood to spare. It's quiet and ethereal in its mechanics, and almost dreamlike in parts. Haunting, even. It's sharp and gorgeous to behold (the locations are fantastic), and its characters are as compelling as is the mystery that surrounds them. How are these once-dead people alive and "well" again? What does this mean for everyone in the town? What is with that creepy church in the reservoir? Why is that little kid so damned creepy!?!

This creepy little creep gave us nightmares, both waking and while asleep.
If there's anything negative that we could say about The Returned, its that the communication between some of the characters was frustrating at times. It's always maddening when people in a story could solve their issues and move the plot along substantially if they would just talk to one another, and a lot of that does go on here. Hopefully in the Second Season, the writers won't make the characters' evasiveness as much of a plot device as they did in the First. This show is solid enough on all levels that such writing tricks are not necessary.

There's a lot of ambiguity in this show, and it frustrated us at times for different reasons, but its just so solid in most of its other aspects, that we didn't dwell on its shortcomings for too long. 

"I've got a message for you, mon ami, and you're not going to like it."
Despite a lot of the show looking and feeling "washed out" as far as its color schemes go, everything here looks gorgeous. The show's creators obviously played with color quite a bit in this one, which definitely adds to the story's style and mood, almost as if the visual aspects are its own character. As "grey" and drab as it looks (and feels) at times, there are plenty of noticeable instances where colors pop in vivid detail. We're sure that true Videophiles could point out flaws and weaknesses in the transfer, but to our average eyes, it all looked great.

I'd run.
Clear, crisp, clean and immersive; we can ask no more from the audio on any Blu-ray disc. The audio mix on these discs delivers on all of those aspects, even if that delivery is more subdued than it is bold. You're not going to put these discs on to showcase your DTS & Surround Sound setup, but the audio mix here serves the show well enough.

Knives being stabbed into bellies sounded particularly crisp in this one.
Save for a pretty impressive little booklet, this set is as bare-bones as it gets. That is to say that there are no Special Features at all.

The packaging for this set is and over-sized, tri-fold cardboard type of deal, so if you aren't a fan of Digibook-style packaging, it might drive you a little bit nuts. *For the record, we tend to prefer normal amray casing for our Blu-rays, mainly because we're a bit OCD about uniformity. We couldn't help but buy this set though, because it was just something we needed to own. Going against our organizational OCD in that way is saying a lot for the quality of this Blu-ray set, believe me.

Q: Which one of these two are dead? A: It's a trick question!
If you love good TV Shows that captivate you with ambiance and atmosphere, and aren't bothered by watching something with subtitles, then you have got to see The Returned. The overall experience of watching this show left us thrilled, and dying to see more, and we can't imagine that most Horror fans won't feel the same way if they give this show a chance.

The Returned easily fits in with the True Detectives and Hannibals of the TV world, both in quality and creative vision.

For those of you hesitant to blind buy something without sampling what it's like first, it's streaming on Netflix right now. Whichever way you decide to go, just give it a chance. You won't be disappointed.


*It's an A+ not because it's a perfect show, but because the experience that it offers is about as close to perfect as it gets. We just wanted to make that distinction, lest you thought we were hyping this one up a bit too much. It's just really, really good.

Whether playing it creepy or just being plain old lovely, the women of The Returned definitely did their acting Coaches/Teachers proud with their work in this one.


  1. Totally agree with everything you've said here, just love this show, can't wait to see where it goes.

  2. Really looking forward to watching this. I saw the film this is based on in a theater years ago and still rmemeber it fondly: