Zombies aren’t even near played out. I know what I said. They’re played out in the movies, sure and as far as what I’ve read, with the exception of Robert Kirkman
’s perennially wonderful series “The Walking Dead”
, they’re played out in the comics. For now. But television, oh my dear television, is THE
format zombie stories were made for. While I’ve been begging HBO
for years to take a serious look at adapting Kirkman
’s comic to their pay channels, it took the British pay channel E4
to prove that it not only can be done, it damn well should be, with their disturbing yet funny miniseries, “Dead Set”
Here’s how much I loved this...they didn’t even send me a copy to watch and here I am reviewing it anyway. I know, I can be a whore, but I found out that the station’s website
streams the show online for free if you're located across the pond. AND the extras. Damn, now that’s my kind of entertainment. Since I'm in Texas, let's just say I had a copy of this handed off to me by other means although I would have loved to have had a chance to watch it on their site. Seriously, British TV websites, what the holy hell is up with that? Regardless, let me assure you that the Co-Host
isn’t just talking crazy, this really is all that and a bag of human intestines.
It’s the Big Brother
show in England (a GIGANTIC hit over there) and the current jackasses living in the house have just had a housemate voted off, the boobalicious but completely vacant Pippa
). Outside the crowd of fans swell and cheer to meet in person the former cast member as she exits the house and real life Big Brother
hostess, Davina McCall
, is on hand to greet her. Inside the studio, the world’s biggest jackass producer (that’s actually a tough call to make...tough competition there) Patrick
) is barking orders at his assistant while a runner, Kelly
) tries to avoid both her boyfriend on her phone and the shouted orders from Patrick
by hiding in an office and making out with a work mate. All of the sudden, as it happens and as traditionally done without explanation, the zombie apocalypse begins. These are the running, crazed “Dawn of the Dead”
remake style zombies and it doesn’t take almost any time at all for them to mow down pretty much everybody standing around the studio lot as well as most of the folks in the offices. Left secluded, protected, and clueless are the cast of the Big Brother
with the determination and smarts to be the alpha chick in this here splatterfest, miles away her boyfriend Riq
) determined to find her, Patrick
trapped by a zombified Davina
in an office, and a few assorted others. Over the course of five episodes (138 minutes total) the survivors try to gather together inside the Big Brother
house and figure out if this is the end of everything or if there is a way to escape.
was created by Charlie Brooker
, an occasionally controversial English comedian and writer who managed to inject just the right amount of cynical jabs at our cult of celebrity culture while still creating a bad ass, gory as hell, tension filled zombie thriller. There’s no denying that Brooker
paid close attention to his forerunners. There are plenty of tributes sprinkled throughout the series if you pay attention closely. The understanding of what has already worked in the zombie genre pays the rent but it’s doing it in the longer TV format which survival horror plays out so well in that has it's name on the lease.
You can’t do this on a normal network. Who wants to see a zombie series without shocking character deaths? Those require a bit more blood and splatter than the FCC
would sit comfortably letting be aired without your name on a credit card. E4
definitely delivers on the ick, to the point that even I was a little queasy at points, and I’ve sat through Lucio Fulci
films. Horror fans will most certainly be beside themselves with pleasure at everything disgusting and nasty that “Dead Set”
gets perfectly right.
While this is certainly aimed more at British audiences who will be more familiar with all the reality show celebrities who show up (there are apparently lots and lots of Big Brother
former stars who make cameos) I never felt left out. If I had a real complaint, it’s that this ends all too soon. Not badly, mind you, but as a series, it had so much possibility to keep going. Maybe it's just that I was loving it so much, but I wasn't ready for it to be over. To be honest, I thought it was just the first season of a show. I’m guessing not. Perhaps though, since this was a sizable hit in the UK and I’d imagine is going to generate a lot of excitement in the US as well, that we’ll be seeing something a little more lasting in zombie storytelling soon. Mr Kirkman
, you might want to make sure your answering service is working properly.