The Returned (Les Revenants in French) centres on a small Alpine town where dead people are busy returning to the land of the living. The supernatural drama has proved hugely successful with British audiences, averaging 1.5 million viewers, and has spawned many fan clubs, blogs and forums that are filled with eager fans’ speculation as to the mystery – Why do these people return? Who is dead and who is alive? What is the significance of the reservoir? The series final will air on Sunday and will hopefully clear up some of those questions, but those of you who have missed out this time should not fear because a second series is in the pipeline.
To get you ready, here’s a small list of useful ‘Returned’ vocab: le zombie, le fantôme, l’ange, le barrage, le Lake Pub, La Main tendue (the Helping Hand), les jumelles (twins), le tueur en série (serial killer), le suicide, l’accident, la mort, la cicatrice (scar), le revenant (revenant/returnee).
When I was younger the only foreign television I remember was American and in English. If you wanted to watch a French film, you had to stay up until 2am. The general belief was that British viewers, in contrast to many others across the globe, did not like subtitles and had an even greater aversion to dubbing. There were signs that things were changing with the recent popularity of foreign crime drama, from the French Spiral, the Italian Inspector Montalbano, to the Scandinavian The Killing, Wallander and The Bridge. However, these were all shown on BBC4. The Returned is the first to be shown on a mainstream channel, Channel 4, at the peak drama time of 9pm on Sunday nights. With its gripping storyline and excellent atmospherics, including the Mogwai soundtrack, if ever there was a programme that might have the power to be a game changer for foreign language television in the UK, this is it. Let us hope that this will be the first of many subtitled programmes on mainstream television.