“Afterlife” (2005)

Not just another ‘Medium’ clone.

So, I was in NYC over New Years’ and I was pimping my friend’s VOD Digital cable and I came across this show, ‘ Afterlife ‘ and thought I’d give it a shot. Apparently it was broadcast in the UK starting in 2005 and has gotten play on Australia’s Channel 9 before comig to BBC America.

Knowing little the show’s premise and having missed the first episode (it had expired off of the system) I gave the show a look. Very interesting. Though the show’s got many of the trappings of Patricia Arquette’s co-evolved show (both premiered in 2005) Ms. Sharpe’s drama is played very differently… – the female protagonist here in in her forties, does not have the support of the local D.A., a pretty-boy husband or loving, precocious children to fall back on. Without title or career, Alison Mundy is pretty much cast in the Jane Tennison role of Prime Suspect a smart, aging woman stuck in a man’s world with little more than her wits to keep her.

And here comes the anti -X-Files element — Alison has a cynical ‘partner’, but they’re not on the same team: Andrew Lincoln’s Robert Bridge is a psychologist interested in exploring con-men and would be psychics, but unlike Scully, he almost never lets Alison up for air, despite Alison having proved her abilities time and time again.

Alison is *literally* HAUNTED by her abilities. Like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense she literally sees dead people – they seek her out and ask for favors, they turn up for breakfast, tea time and presage their ritual deaths. It’s hard, exactly to say how this show varies from its American equivalents except to say that it is simply harder-edged. There are few children who aren’t already dead and many adults haunted by turgid pasts. And like real life, there’s some occaisional nudity. This is European television, not PG fare, especailly as Alison hits the bottle from time to time. In one episode, she offers Bridge a drink and he offers that it’s “Too early”. She’s already lost plenty of sleep in the episode and she answers back that it’s “almost too late”. Very cheeky.

However, there’s something about this show that just continues to creep me out. I’m not fully through the first half of this limited-series (6-8 episodes per season). Perhaps it’s the attention that the writers pay to Alison and her lonely existence, the tortured spirits that she’s trying to outrun, giving up her nursing career for the anonymity of a new town, though ghosts everwhere still seem to know to look her up. It’s almost like Bill Bixby’s Hulk without the freedom to move on, and of course without the lacrymose puppies in trees and the family farms in need of saving.

‘Afterlife’. It’s on BBC America and it’s available on Region 2 DVD if you’ve got a region-free DVD player. It’s worth it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

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