Back in 2013 Channel 4 took a gamble. They aired a French show centering around zombies at 9pm on a Sunday night. Sunday night has traditionally been a slot where broadcasters think we need light-weight dramas like Downton Abbey to calm us down after our baths and Sunday dinner’s before heading back to work/school on a dreary Monday.
Channel 4 has never been a channel to conform, and whilst putting The Returned in a peak Sunday slot seemed a gamble, it was actually a stroke of genius from a channel that realised audiences want something different. The Returned had already a massive hit in its native France and Channel 4 knew it would most likely take off here, but it was scheduling I admired. So often lately broadcasters buy a foreign show and fail to promote it, or worse still stick in it a slot so late and off the radar that audiences find it by accident, or don’t realise it’s on at all!
It goes without saying that Channel 4’s supposed gamble paid off. The Returned was one of the most exciting and original television dramas in recent memory. Twitter was awash with theories on why the dam was loosing water and why certain characters had ‘returned’ As is often the case, some were left a bit miffed when the majority of those burning questions were left unanswered and they discovered there would be another series. It’s a term we’ve since named ‘Broadchurching’.
I was left chomping at the bit (apologies for the American term of phrase there) for the next installment. It was a show so dense with plot and wonderful characters I was desperate to spend more time with it. The new series is on its way. The US has already confirmed a Halloween start date for the series and today we heard news of plans for the second series here, and my little TV obsessed heart sank.
For reasons that bemuse me, and send me into a tiny inner rage, Channel 4 have made the decision to place the second series on More4. Okay, I know More4 has shown subtitled drama this year, and it’s the home of The Good Wife, but why move something that proved such a success on your main channel to it’s poor sidekick? In lots of ways I’ve had a rocky relationship with mainstream TV this year but Channel 4 have been my saviour. The majority of their output has impressed me, and they seem to be the only channel that respects its audience. This decision hasn’t tainted my opinion of them, it’s just a bit depressing. It’s just as bad as ITV moving the superb US drama The Americans to their drama channel ITV Encore. The only reason they’ve shifted it because ITV is a channel devoid of risk taking, it made a good choice when it purchased The Americans from FX but then immediately ruined its chances of taking off by scheduling it oddly.
I’m so disappointed that Channel 4 have decided to move The Returned, especially because it really did find an audience and a buzz and was the complete antidote to the dreary programmes the other broadcasters thought we want on a Sunday. So, if you’re a fan of this superior foreign drama you’ll have to seek out the channel normally designated for repeats of Grand Designs and Location, Location Location.