Glitch, Series 1 Episode 1

The ABC’s Glitch is the most recent instalment of the “dead people come back but they’re not zombies” show, following on from Les Revenants, its American adaptation, and Resurrection. What seemed like a fantastic idea with Les Revenants could start to seem tired if people keep making their own version of it. I wanted to make sure I saw all of Les Revenants before I watched Glitch, and I only just checked out the first episode today, because I’m busy on Thursday nights. I don’t want to compare these kinds of shows, but it’s impossible not to, because they all have a similar basic premise, even if it’s executed differently. The science fiction element seems to be more important here as well, as something strange has happened to one of the not-zombies already.

Glitch is set in the fictional Victorian town of Yoorana, which is quite small, and somewhere in between Shepparton and Echuca. As a young boy is riding his bike past the cemetery, he hears a woman call for help and (presumably) calls the police about the disturbance. The local policeman comes and finds a handful of people covered in dirt and completely naked. He calls for the local ambulance, but the only person who comes is the local doctor. These people have no memory of who they are or why they wound up in the cemetery. This situation is a bit frustrating. At this stage the audience knows more than the protagonists, at least if they read pre-air reviews or saw any of the promotional material from the show. We know they’ve come back from the dead, but the characters don’t learn that until one third of the way through the episode.

Contrast that with Les Revenants (there will only be one paragraph comparing the two shows, I promise), when Camille came back, fully clothed and walked into her own house to make a sandwich as if the four years that had passed were four hours. Her parents had separated in the years since her death, and her twin sister left her behind. I knew they were twins because I’d read about the show beforehand, but that doesn’t make the moment where Camille and Lena see each other for the first time any less heartbreaking. Here’s a person who was your other half, who always looked like you, and now you’re different. Camille’s parents are debating whether or not it can actually be their daughter, but they never tell her what’s going on.

In Glitch, the characters only learn that these people have returned from the dead because the policeman James recognises his late girlfriend Kate. He can’t believe that she’s there, and she can’t believe that she died – the not-zombies are getting their memories back in small flashes – until he takes her to see her gravestone. He calls the doctor and tells her to keep the rest of them in the dark, but when he and Kate get back to the surgery, Kate asks the Italian woman who was born in 1931 when she died, so that secret didn’t last very long. We don’t learn much about the five other not-zombies, except for Carlos and the Irishman who used to be mayor.

Carlos was an Italian immigrant who came to Australia for work during World War II, but was locked in a prison camp. Anna, who was born in 1931 understands Italian, so she translates for him. Carlos is having flashbacks to his time in the 1940s, when he saw his brother slit his wrists. He mentions his brother’s name, and the doctor knows him; he’s in his 90s. Then Carlos runs away and tries to break into Noregard Pharmaceuticals when he’s arrested by one of the other two policemen in the town. James goes back to the station and takes Carlos to his brother, but on the way Carlos’ eyes start bleeding, and then he runs out of the car and completely disintigrates into dust. That’s the sci-fi element of the show coming into play, and Glitch is definitely more interested in the why than Les Revenants ever was. And I’m okay with it. I needed these shows to be different enough that I’d want to keep watching, and I’m satisfied at this point. Oh and the other cop was tailing James and Carlos and saw what happened. He looked at the dust on the bridge then went to the cemetery and found Carlos empty grave. This situation is much more interesting if more people know what’s going on, even if they don’t know why it’s happening.

Meanwhile, the young Aboriginal boy who was riding his bike past the cemetery is following the first Mayor of Yoorana on his bike, and their storyline turns into a little bit of a buddy-cop situation. They break into the local pub (The Royal) to have a drink, and the Irishman has no idea what’s going on with the pokie machines, because he died in the 19th Century. It’s great. Then he sees his old knife, and the two of them fake a hostage situation to rob the local IGA, it’s great. It’s only after the robbery that they see the statue and figure out what’s going on.

We still don’t know how any of these people died, which is interesting. Does it really matter? We learn at the end of the episode that James has (re)married and has a child on the way, which is important for the show. After you die, people grieve, but they move forward with their lives. I’m not particularly interested in where this story is headed (the love triangle on Les Revenants wasn’t very interesting), but it creates stakes that weren’t there before.

Other thoughts:

  • I’m going to review the second episode tomorrow, then reviews will go up every Thursday after the episode airs. All of the episodes are available for your binge-watching pleasure if that’s what you’re into, and I’m probably going to watch them on iview on Thursday afternoons because I have choir on Thursday nights.
  • Noregard Pharmaceuticals: Noregard = no regard. In the establishing footage of Yoorana before we got to the cemetery, there was a shot of Noregard, so I noted it down. They probably have something to do with the entire situation – I’ve seen Zoo and legal procedurals, people file class action suits against these kinds of companies for a reason. Then Carlos tried to break in and I became 100% certain
  • All the dead people came back naked. Weren’t they buried in clothes? Obviously the clothes break down over time, but so do bodies (perhaps a reason Noregard is involved). And Kate has only been dead for two years, wouldn’t she be more likely to be wearing clothes than the others?
  • When James was called to the cemetery, he was at a local farm to put down a dog that was killing some sheep. The dog and the sheep shared an owner. Before shooting him, James gave the dog a speech about the circle of life, very much a “this is what this show is about” speech.
  • Oh, the other thing I was going to say about Noregard is that it’s probably the major employer for the area, because if it’s near Shepparton, the fruit growers are slowly going out of business. It may or may not be important later on.
  • The Irishman and the kid are by far my favourite character pairing.
    Kid: “We can’t go in”
    Irishman: “Of course you can’t, you’re a native”
    Kid: “No you fucking racist, it’s closed!”
  • Then, at the end of the episode: “I’m the fucking mayor!”
  • My latest Arrow comparison: Is Noregard  secretly making mirakuru? Because when that fails, people bleed from the eyes before they die.
  • What I wrote down when Carlos became a pile of carbon: He completely disintegrated. Huh. Do they need to be taken back to the site of their death?
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