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‘In the Flesh:’ Social Rehabiliation after “Partially Deceased Syndrome”

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I recently became aware of a television three-part series on the BBC that presents a fascinating twist on zombies, called In the Flesh. The program’s website provides a summary of the plotline:

In The Flesh is an exciting new three-part drama for BBC Three that tells the story of zombie teenager Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry) and his reintegration back into both the local community and the heart of his family.

After his death four years ago, his friends and family thought they’d never see Kieren again. But then, shortly after his funeral, thousands of the dead were re-animated; and now, after months of re-habilitation and medication, the zombies are gradually being returned to their homes.

Now known as PDS sufferers (Partially Deceased Syndrome) – and since the passing of the PDS Protection act – the government have set an agenda of acceptance and tolerance, one that is at odds with the communities abandoned at the time of the rising, and the bloody battle between zombies and humans that ensued.

A cauldron of brutal anti-zombie sentiment and the source of the ‘rotter’ hating Human Volunteer Force (HVF), Kieren returns to his home in the rural village of Roarton. Here he is forced to confront his family, the community that rejected him and the flashbacks that continue to haunt him of what he did in his untreated state.

Kieren’s parents, Steve (Steve Cooper) and Sue (Marie Critchley), are undoubtedly pleased to see him, but his sister, Jem (Harriet Cains), isn’t so ready to pick up where they left off.

Meanwhile, the HVF, led by violent Bill Macy (Steve Evets) and backed by local churchman Vicar Oddie (Kenneth Cranham), are ready to take action against any PDS Sufferer reintegrated on their patch.

This novel twist on the zombie narrative allows the exploration of various ideas, from social ostracization for things like mental disease to physical deformity, and religious apocalyptic narratives used to explain various cultural events. I’ve tracked down segments of this on YouTube, including some very creative videos simulating a government educational program on dealing with zombies and PDSD, and am intrigued enough to try to find the whole thing. In case you haven’t heard of In the Flesh, check it out.

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