ABC has been trying to hit on a lot of fronts lately, but nothing has been a more clear shot at fans of LOST than the upcoming Resurrection. The trailers don’t exactly give you that impression (see sizzle reel below), but they hint that it might be there, as does the general premise.
We watch as Jacob awakes in a rice field in China, clearly in unfamiliar territory. The case soon falls to Immigration agent J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), who only knows that Jacob has made his way back to the United States, but hasn’t spoken a word since he was found. Though Martin is supposed to just drop Jacob off with Child Protective Services, he seems to be getting some information out of Jacob, and when Jacob confirms that he can find his way home, in Arcadia, Missouri, Martin takes him there.
The aging man who answers the door, Henry (Kurtwood Smith), confirms that he had a son named Jacob, but that Jacob died over thirty years ago. As the title would suggest, Jacob seems to have been resurrected, a fact apparently confirmed by Jacob recognizing his father, and remembering his death.
You might expect that a certain amount of what happens next should be described as, well, what you’d expect to happen, but there are more complications, and what would you expect anyway?
On the other hand, as you might expect from TV land, Jacob’s parents are torn. Henry finds the whole thing hard to accept, but mom, Lucille (Frances Fisher) can’t play along fast enough.
Beyond that, Arcadia is a fairly small town, which leads to the Sheriff, Fred (Matt Craven), conveniently being Henry’s brother, and the local pastor being Jacob’s childhood friend. Complicating the situation further, Fred’s wife died in the same accident at the river as Jacob. Fred’s daughter, Maggie, who was present at the accident, but was only a baby, gets dragged into things as well, because she’s conveniently a doctor (but not overly convincing as one). She’s also conveniently best friends with Elaine, who will become more interesting as the web reaches out to turn most of Arcadia upside-down.
There’s a certain routine to the establishment of the pilot episode, mostly because we have to put together some plausible idea of what people might actually do in such a situation. DNA tests, exhuming bodies, and the trials and tribulations of same. Whatever we might endure when someone who died shows up for lunch. We have to dance through all the steps without losing hold of the audience, and it’s trickier than you might expect. It doesn’t work out perfectly, especially when looking at the first couple of episodes together, but it passes. Confusion over perhaps not announcing that your son has been resurrected is a bit tricky to swallow, but in the midst of the whole picture it is possible to play along. Other points will test a variety of viewer responses, like the rather cliche, and only passably acted, “that man in there isn’t Dad,” routine.
It actually works some decent hooks, as much as this particular spin on wild conspiracies runs the risk of going too far too fast, and with the addition of the heartstrings element, it has a lot of potential to keep viewers around. It may surprise some to learn that Omar Epps is probably the show’s best draw. Not that he hasn’t given solid performances in the past, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to try to charm his way through a role like this before, and he hasn’t managed this level of maintaining the spotlight before.
The show’s only problem may be, odd as it will sound, that it can’t seem to decide just how weird it wants to be. The juggling of levels, much as the case with LOST, keeps you guessing, but it’s difficult to know how well we’re going to get it all to mesh with small town America, as opposed to a mysterious island. This is especially true when what we’re juggling is that which is already bizarre, and the pulling back of the wizard’s curtain.
Unfortunately, what’s really going to tell you something is somewhere around the fifth or sixth episode. That’s when the show is going to have to give you enough information to see if you’ll keep playing, and that’s going to let us in on how wacky things are really going to get. For now, it’s going to hit as one of the most interesting things on television, and it isn’t going to have much trouble roping you in. It’s a well-worked sci-fi koan that balances the oddity against the fact that Kurtwood Smith is delivering some of the lines. If he can’t anchor your screwy premise, nothing can.
In the end, much of the beauty comes in the fact that, again like LOST, as certain points are revealed you can’t help but suddenly be struck with a, “Wait, what the hell am I watching here?” That’s television gold.
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“Resurrection” stars Omar Epps (“House”) as J. Martin Bellamy, Frances Fisher (“Titanic”) as Lucille Langston, Matt Craven (“Crimson Tide,” “A Few Good Men”) as Fred Langston, Devin Kelley (“Chernobyl Diaries,” “The Chicago Code”) as Maggie Langston, Mark Hildreth (“The Tudors”) as Pastor Tom Hale, Samaire Armstrong (“Entourage,” “The O.C.”) as Elaine Richards, Sam Hazeldine (“The Raven”) as Caleb Richards, Landon Gimenez as Jacob and Kurtwood Smith (“That ’70s Show”) as Henry Langston.