Hysteria or a haunting history? When a young couple, Charlotte and Nathan Appleby, return to the Somerset village of Shepzoy the unexplainable begins to happen. With murders, curses and visions taking over logic, the horrific ordeal of Gabriel's (Nathan's son) untimely death, which took place in the village years before, manages to burrow its way into Nathan's consciousness. Obsession and compulsion seizes the family and provokes more paranormal happenings in the village - with disastrous consequences. A BBC original drama, this show had its audience on the edge of their seats (and watching through their fingers) throughout the first season but what made it so successful? Here are five reasons it changed the face of taxing Tuesday nights.
5. Testing Typical TV
Let's face it, TV has become almost second-best to our beloved box sets and streaming and it is almost as if all of the good shows air all at once; usually over Christmas and the New Year. The Living And The Dead has been one of the shows that have challenged this over the last few months. Spooky and all things supernatural, it brought something new to TV lineup.
4. Underrated (And Exceptional) Actors
Colin Morgan, known for his title role in Merlin and films such as The Testament Of Youth, is not new to the historical or fantasy genres. He really makes the show what it is - so well in fact you forget everything else he is well-known for. Whether he is playing Charlotte's loving husband or the madman (with unlimited access to the medicine cabinet) he comes to be in later episodes, he is believable throughout. Charlotte Spencer, who plays Charlotte Appleby, has the perfect aesthetic for the time period. She contradicts the expectations of the age with her independence - well-educated, assertive with passion for photography and farming - she is pretty much self-sufficient. It is refreshing to see a portrayal with such a positive outlook on equality.
3. Taking On Time Travel
Who is the woman with the book of light? Is she the future? Are they the past? The show takes on more than the average period drama by adding the element of time travel; taking us from 1894 to modern day and back again. It leaves us questioning the characters, the time and whether what we are watching is a figment of Nathan's imagination. Few shows have taken on so many elements to a storyline and have it work out but, in this case, it was seamless. The idea of time-travel becomes a big part of the finale so all the more reason to watch until the very end.
2. Paranormal Poltergeists and Supernatural Spooks
We can't look away; even at the most sinister parts. More psychological than outright slaughter, it was the eerie music, bloodcurdling screams and the haunting lullabies of children that gave us the chills throughout the series. Gabriel's character appearing in the shadows was the most unsettling - his childlike logic and silent pauses increased the tension immensely. He gave goosebumps aplenty. Gabriel even shook up the most sceptical of Shepzoy's vicars so we didn't stand a chance.
1. Cadaverous Characters
Each episode brought a new paranormal event to light. Nothing was out of bounds when it came to the storyline - themes of envy, psychosis and possession in the first few episodes were just breaking the surface. These events had a detrimental effect on the people of the village and the most unpredictable made for the best viewing. Peter Hare's episode (a supporting character played by Robert Emms of BBC 1's Atlantis) arguably made him one of the most psychotic and erratic characters of the series. It's a must-see! Check out the trailer below:
The Living And The Dead has received outstanding reviews as well as finding an audience and a following after just its first season. Word has it, the paranormal did not merely stay in the script. The cast have spoken about strange noises and ghostly happenings on-set but, erm, we won't mull over that for too long! It is great to see this genre back on prime time TV and we hope to see many more of the same, and more of the show itself of course, in the future.
Have you seen this show? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!