sundance channel

This isn’t a Halloween trick, just a TV treat: On Halloween night, at 9 p.m. ET, Sundance Channel presents the premiere of an eight-part miniseries that’s unusual and intelligent and interesting enough to deserve notice – even if it is subtitled, slow-moving and very, very subtle in revealing its secrets.

It’s called The Returned, and it’s an eight-part 2012 French miniseries shown on Canal Plus as Les Revenants. Sundance is showing it in prime time, subtitled, and Halloween is the perfect night to unveil it, for reasons I’m reluctant to reveal.

I’m reluctant because this is the type of moody, creepy, cerebral drama that is best enjoyed by those who come to it knowing as little as possible about what they’re about to say. So all I want to do, here, is to steer you in its direction. Every episode of The Returned haunted me long after I saw it – and I expect, and hope, it provides you with the same singular, lasting experience. It premieres Thursday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. ET on Sundance Channel.

        –  Fresh Air TV critic, David Bianculli

David Bianculli’s take on Jane Campion’s new TV drama, Top of the Lake, which premieres on the Sundance Channel this evening:

[T]he detective, Robin, is played by Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy on Mad Men. No matter how good you think she is on Mad Men, I suspect you’ll be unprepared for her complicated performance here — and not only because she sports an effective New Zealand accent, but because her character is so rough, so raw and so constantly conflicted.

The pace of Top of the Lake is so deliberate, and the atmosphere so oppressive, that its overall tone is close to the moodiness of the AMC series The Killing. The beautiful but foreboding setting is a strong character here — but the strongest, in addition to the determined women played by Hunter and Moss, is Tui’s father, Matt Mitcham, a local backwoods drug lord played by Peter Mullan.


“She has eaten many husbands already. But that doesn’t scare me; my sexual drive is the strongest!”

David Bianculli on the new Sundance Channel drama series, Rectify, about an exonerated man who finds himself back in the outside world:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV character, at the center of a TV series, who’s anywhere near as passive as Daniel Holden is written and portrayed here. Daniel doesn’t do anything — at least not in these six episodes, which dramatize his first week of release from prison. Instead, he either accepts or refuses invitations, engages in conversations or declines to, as he’s approached by those around him. It’s a gripping performance, but not a showy one.

Image of Aden Young in Rectify via the Sundance Channel