Afterlife — spirited television

Afterlife tv series

I finally caught up with the 2005-06 British television show Afterlife last night, wrapping up the concluding episodes of the second, final series, and I’m … touched. It’s sublime viewing, elegant and spare and raw, at times uncomfortable and others moving, and not always giving what you might expect but always satisfying.

Robert Bridge is a psychologist who sets out to tear down a medium, Alison Mundy, but finds that debunking her links with the spirit world is harder than he’d expected. Both he and Alison have their own ghosts to contend with over the short, sharp, beautiful 14 episodes, penned by Stephen Volk.

Lesley Sharp is brilliant as brittle Alison, lonely and alcoholic, beset by her ‘gift’, while Andrew Lincoln plays the cool scientist perfectly, revealing tenderness and vulnerability as the series goes on. The acting across the board is sensational, adding to the visceral feel of this beautifully shot, beautifully crafted story.

There are no easy answers, no glamour, no outrageous special effects. It’s simply some of the most effective, affecting television I’ve seen in ages. I can’t believe it took me this long to find it. I suspect last night’s conclusion will haunt me for a very long time.

Tip: don’t go hunting previews for this on YouTube or elsewhere. If you catch one of the segments from the final episode, it will spoil the series.

Ahem. Twilight. And on Being Human

While in New Orleans in October, I was asked by the Aussie ABC Online to offer some thoughts on the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga and the state of the vampire mythos today. The article has appeared here, in a preview of the latest movie’s opening.

If ever there was a city in which to talk vampires, it’s New Orleans, or at least the French Quarter, with its uneven, gas-lit sidewalks and classic architecture, and the legacy of Anne Rice never too far away.

Meanwhile, my local cinema is filled with Twilight posters, standees and even a merchandise table that includes, I kid you not, an umbrella for $50. Can someone please make it stop now?

Fortunately, as some kind of counterbalance, however unbalanced that balance might be, there are shows such as Being Human: cleverly scripted, well acted, an engaging take on the supernatural trying to co-exist with the mundane. The premise sounds a little like a gag — a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all live in this house and… — but it’s not a laughing matter. Think Ultraviolet in a sharehouse. Yummy. Maybe there’s hope after all… even if it doesn’t have a brolly.

Here’s a taste, about how the show approaches its bloodsuckers:

And a trailer for Ultraviolet, truly superb viewing if you can get your hands on the series.