Never mind what that bloke at the electrical goods shop says; you don’t need a 3D TV. Tune into In the Flesh with your regular electric viewing slab of choice and you can see proper three-dimensional characters moving right in front of you.
Because to really draw you in – to make you feel like the transparent partition between fiction and your living room has slid away – you don’t need expensive photons and glasses that make you look like a robot Elvis Costello. You just need some good old-fashioned terrific writing and talented actors.
And boy are they here. I forgot I even owned a TV as I watched Luke Newberry pour his everything into Fintan Ryan’s outstandingly written monologue about rising from the grave.
Every beat, every quiver, every breath, was so perfectly executed that you felt you were the seventh guest at the most awkward Sunday lunch ever; letting your Yorky pud go cold as you watched a young man bleed his deepest traumas. Only if a Toby Carvery opened up in a strip club could eating a roast be more uncomfortable.
Kieren hasn’t been the focus of the show this series, but with a performance that could melt even the hardest of roast potatoes, Luke Newberry proves he is still the show’s heart and soul. Our point of emotional connection. The avatar of undead agonies in Dom Mitchell’s world. And he might be even more. Is he really the first risen? And if so, what does Simon want with him? What does Maxine Martin want with him?
When she’s not up to mysterious doings from her B&B lair, Maxine’s covering up the death of Henry Lonsdale and exposing the zombie brothel, and generally proving herself to be, if not the villain – because just like the real world Roarton is not a morally black and white place – then the force of resistance to the people we root for.
And who’d have thought brothel patron Philip Wilson (Stephen Thompson) – up until now the unblinking gargoyle of Parish affairs – would be one of those we root for, even after we’ve played voyeur to his undead underpants fantasies? The truth is he’s as much a misfit as any of the undead. He’s awkward and shy and in love, and trying to find his way in the world, and Stephen Thompson articulates Philip’s small-town naivety well.
In a series where there are so many lies and hidden motives, Philip’s actions are awkwardly noble. After standing with the other brothel customers, and then admitting his love for Amy directly to her, you can’t help but be moved by his honesty, just as you could help but be moved by Kieren’s. Especially as Philip, poor lamb, probably hasn’t had any Sunday dinner.
And besides, Philip and Amy make an unorthodoxly cute couple. Not that In the Flesh tolerates cute. It is three-dimensional life, with all the rough edges that brings. ‘Cute’ is but the Sunday roast ready to be mercilessly sliced for everyone’s enjoyment. Probably in ‘gore-ious’ 3D.
Aired at 10pm on Sunday 25 May 2014 on BBC Three.
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