Now streaming–Find an exciting supernatural/sci-fi trip to a small Australian town in Netflix series “Glitch”

Review by C.J. Bunce

The first season of Netflix’s imported series Glitch is so well done, it’s easy to compare it to the first season of TV’s Lost–another genre-bending series that held enough back that viewers never quite knew the secrets behind the strange happenings to an unusual assemblage of characters.  That’s the good and bad part about Glitch, because by the end of the second season the story loses its way and ultimately doesn’t deliver the payoff the first season deserved.  That said, a great cast of Australian actors, including some familiar faces from the Star Wars franchise, and great mystery and intrigue ultimately make the series worth watching despite its drawbacks.  Something wicked this way comes–again–to Australia, co-starring Emma Booth, the lead in the Starz series The Gloaming.  When officer James Hayes appears one night at a cemetery in his small town of Yoorana, Victoria, who could know that people would begin pulling themselves out of their graves?  Is this a zombie show or something with more to say about humans and the world?  It’s not the payoff but the journey that is so much fun in this 2015-2019, three-season, 18-episode tale now streaming on Netflix.

Along with a solid deputy played by John Leary, the show’s hero is James Hayes, played by Patrick Brammall, the perfect good guy lead: sympathetic, recently losing his wife to cancer, now remarried to Sarah (played by New Zealand actress Emily Barclay), with a baby due in two weeks.  In the rural burgh of Yoorana, cops usually don’t have much to deal with beyond trespassers and a delinquent teen skipping classes.  But what is Hayes thinking when seven people pull themselves out of their cemetery plots?  The question becomes relevant to the outcomes of what amounts to second chances for Sean Keenan’s Charlie Thompson, a young ex-soldier from World War I, Hannah Monson’s Kirstie Darrow, a young skateboarder who died in the 1980s, Rodger Corser’s John, a secretive violence-prone man whose past is cloudy, and Emma Booth’s Kate, who happens to be Officer Hayes’ dead ex-wife.  Why are they here, how did they return, and why is someone trying to stop them?  And why can’t they leave town?

Along with a handful of other characters who emerge from the past, the story of Paddy Fitzgerald shines as the best story arc.  Played by Irish TV veteran actor Ned Dennehy (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Luther, Dublin Murders, Veronica Guerin), Paddy is the celebrated frontier mayor of Yoorana.  His return is spotted by an aboriginal teenage boy named Beau played by Aaron L. McGrath.  By itself, the combination of the modern kid on his bike and the mouthy Irish codger who always gets his way will keep viewers coming back again and again.  Paddy’s character is fully fleshed out and connects the past with the present in surprising ways, and together with McGrath the odd duo have great chemistry.  These “returneds” or “revenants” do not resemble the zombies one may first think of, like in The Walking Dead or iZombie.  Their development and fates are closer to the troubled people in the competing supernatural TV series and comics we discussed here at borg back in 2015.

In addition to Dennehy, fans of Star Wars will find two supporting characters get to shine far more than they did in their space-faring roles.  Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Rebels, and the forthcoming series Andor’s Mon Mothma, Genevieve O’Reilly is fantastic as the local doctor tasked with figuring out what happened to each of these living dead.  And Anakin Skywalker’s mom from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith, Pernilla August is a scheming local scientist who may hold all the answers.

Whatever your definition of “glitch” is, it doesn’t quite fit what the series is about, either a supernatural doomsday tale, an End of Days playing out of Revelations, or a science fiction, mad scientist story of a researcher trying to learn how to do just what Mary Shelley wrote about in the first science fiction novel Frankenstein.  Is there a way to reanimate life, knowing what we know in the 21st century?  Without giving away too much, the brilliance of the storytelling includes an examination of science merging with art, digging into the human cell and brainwave patterns.  But characters in the third season may also demonstrate the series could be about something from an entirely different realm of the supernatural, as a daughter killed in a cult exorcism makes her way back to her family with an actor from China who believes he is a ghost, trying to determine how he died back in the early days of the town.

Despite its dark subject matter, it’s a fun ride.  Regardless of where the story ultimately lands and with its drawbacks, it still qualifies as solid supernatural and science fiction storytelling, with a great cast.  All three seasons of Glitch are streaming now on Netflix.

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