Although there is quite a high gore factor to In the Flesh, this is by no means the mainstay of Dominic Mitchell’s horror saga for BBC Three. This is a psychological drama about the effects on a community of a horrifying event which has torn them apart, and the return to that community of one of the people who was perceived by many to be responsible. In the world of In the Flesh, zombies can be cured – known as sufferers from Partially Deceased Syndrome, they can, apparently, be medicated to create the brain functions that otherwise have been destroyed. With the help of make up and regular injections, they can start to take their places back in the world – if the world will let them.
If the first episode is anything to go by, In the Flesh should have a long and successful run on BBC Three. Tonally, it’s far nearer to the much lamented The Fades than it is Being Human, whose slot it has taken for its opening run: there’s not a great deal of humour, but nor is it unremittingly bleak. It’s undeniably tragic: the murder/execution of the wife of Ken Burton (Ricky Tomlinson) at the end is all the more powerful for the almost-caring tone that Bill Macy (Steve Evets) adopts when he asks her to take her contact lenses out.
We don’t know (and frankly, we don’t need to know) the details of the zombie apocalypse that happened in 2009; we just see the aftermath, and the way that it has set families against each other, and forced people into actions that they would not otherwise contemplate (one of my favourite images from the episode is Kieran’s mother quite matter-of-factly firing up a chainsaw when she believes her son is imperilled).
A great number of plot threads have been started, and it will be interesting to see how many of them will be followed through in this three-part series; let’s hope that the return of Rick Macy as another PDS sufferer doesn’t move it into cliché.
Verdict: A cracking start. 8/10
Watch for our exclusive interview with Dominic Mitchell later this week.