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This is one of the great supernatural TV series--which may not be such a distinction, with so few to choose from. But this program is good enough to hold its own against any number of comers. I don't know how it went over in England, and I don't know that it's ever played in the U.S., but it should be better known than it is.
It's about a woman who can communicate with the dead: Ghost Whisperer, in other words. But this one is done in the more disturbing vein of British suspense, intercrossed with the more sober vein of British proletarian drama. In the latter line, the show makes a real effort to imagine what a person who was always hearing from dead people would be like in real life: i.e. screwed up; but not screwed up all the time; and the less so the more integrated her personality became. To the people who can't see what she can, she sounds crazy; when, driven by what she's seen, she tells them what not to do, she's so desperate she looks crazy. When we first see her, we think the same of her; then we get to know her better and see she isn't.
The UK have a way of coming up with shows that require unusual personalities, and then finding unusual actors who have them. Lesley Sharp is a perfect choice for this role: she can look both nutty and wise, ragged and hierophantic, at the same time.
I imagine some people would prefer Ghost Whisperer to this because it isn't a horror show. For myself, I prefer my ghost stories scary.
My only quibble is with Andrew Lincoln, the male lead. I wish he weren't quite so like a matinée idol. I can see that the show, lacking a conventional romantic relationship, wanted to provide something of a substitute, and chose an actor who could make his relationship with the leading character seem romantic-and-yet-not. He succeeds in that, and is sympathetic in the role (yet at the same time almost unsympathetic, as he should be), but he seems just a bit shallow.
When the British do them right, their thrillers have a way of involving the audience that no others can match. I'm not sure why. I have a feeling it may spring from the peculiarly British form of neurosis, which, I have no doubt, springs in turn from their highly mannered society. Tne enforcement of mannerly behavior can't help but lead to neurosis in some cases, I would think (I'm sure it would in mine). You can't say what you feel, so you mutter; you can't move freely, so you twitch. That's probably why the British are best at ghost stories, too: ghosts are the ultimate products of neurosis, both in themselves and to those who see them, the genteelly screwed-up. Afterlife is on to that, I think.
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