Back from the beyond: Return of Michelle Chong and review of TV drama Resurrection

Michelle Chong is brilliant in The Noose while Resurrection is a Hallmark movie about the dead returning to life

Michelle Chong (right) is back, and so is the supposed-to-be-dead young son of an old couple played by Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher (both above).
Michelle Chong (right) is back, and so is the supposed-to-be-dead young son of an old couple played by Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher (both above). PHOTOS: MEDIACORP, LIFETIME
Michelle Chong (right) is back, and so is the supposed-to-be-dead young son of an old couple played by Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher (both above). PHOTOS: MEDIACORP, LIFETIME

I see dead people.

To be precise, I see dead American small-town people coming back to life in serious return- from-the-grave drama, Resurrection. But more of that later.

In Singapore, the best return from beyond has to be Michelle Chong's comeback in The Noose Season 7.

Her one-season absence left a gaping hole in the show.

Now, thankfully, the mistress of mimicry is back. Her cheery Filipino maid Leticia Bongnino and Singapore grouch Nancy Goh, who complains about poor-man issues while living in posh Nassim Road, crack me up like a coconut.

She is also sharp, smart and wicked, and she simply makes everybody in the team seem better when she dives in - like Luis Suarez in Liverpool.

This season's big hits for me include this week's funny report about adding more buses to our public transportation-congestion system, a great skit about HDB satellite towns (actress Siti Khalijah is hilarious griping about lousy satellite TV reception), and, gasp, Chong's exuberant China girl alter-ego, Lulu, waving a scary pink IC, hence making her free to work outside the "keh tee wee" (KTV) now.

But there are misses - the team had a golden opportunity to make an angmoh run comically to the hills like Anton Casey did, but they missed that by a mile when they disappointingly brought in four Caucasians for a lame cultural lesson in the classroom.

Other laments about The Noose: A pool of better acting extras is needed and it is time to get out of the guerilla-style low-rent look. MediaCorp should really build this deserving series to a swankier, classier Saturday Night Live level.

Detractors will want the series to hit harder, but remember, this is still merry Singapore and The Noose, I think, is tightening its rope a little more this season without everybody getting arrested.

As it is, its cast members' impressions of cringe-worthy official people really do leave me with my mouth dropping to the floor out of fear for their longevity.

Meanwhile, as real life goes on in tandem with reel life, I am following The Noose as the twisted-sister version of The News here.

Singapore, a hotbed of change, is becoming funnier, nuttier and infinitely newsier by the minute as a minefield of the absurd. We need to record our parody of such changes for posterity.

Now, on to the dead who return to life in Resurrection.

First of all, this deathly patient, melancholic event-series, based on a novel called The Returned by Jason Mott, has nothing to do with a French supernatural drama series in 2012 also called The Returned.

That show was about dead folks popping up quite wholly and sprightly too.

The French, of course, have an existential attitude to such sudden re-existence.

The Americans, on the other hand, at least those in the religious small town of Arcadia, Missouri, tend not to ask too many questions.

Which is mightily infuriating for a listless urbanite like me. In the moribund, slow-moving opening episodes here, nobody has the urgency to ask these incredible "returnees" - three so far (a young boy, a criminal and a young woman) - what the proverbial white light or eternal hell was like or at least, hey, did anybody see Elvis Presley?

Instead, the townsfolk - especially immigration agent Marty Bellamy (Omar Epps) and the town's edgy sheriff Fred Langston (Matt Craven) - keep the phenomenon under wraps to prevent their super strange secret from being publicised.

"If we let this turn into a freak show, we may never know the truth," they concur.

I do not quite buy this approach, particularly when as the story develops, certain threatened residents think the devil himself is behind all these impossible resurrections and would surely expose the resurrected dead to the world.

The point of this series, though, is to plunder a touching, meaningful and near-maudlin human story out of this whole set-up of loss, second chances and life reconnected, and this does work for viewers inclined towards a gentler, softer and female-angled preference for more Emo-land and less Zombie-land.

The very real and finely cast central couple here - Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher as loving old couple Henry and Lucille Langston - are torn asunder emotionally when their young son, Jacob (Landon Gimenez), dead for 32 years, shows up perfectly fine like he left just yesterday, first in a padi field in China and then right at their doorstep.

Henry is not certain Jacob is his son; Lucille embraces him wholeheartedly.

By the way, if you ask why they do not just check the boy's casket, well, they will do that in one episode.

There is a good-hearted pastor, Tom Hale (Mark Hildreth), whose agonised, confused face is the perfect palette upon which faith is tested and fate is drawn. Resurrection totally scores in this Hallmark-ish aspect.

But, dammit, will somebody please ask about Elvis?

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