The Living and the Dead (2016) is a TV show about a haunted farm, written by Ashley Pharoah, one of the creators of Life on Mars. It stars Colin Morgan and Charlotte Spencer. The first season, six episodes, is available on Amazon Instant and on region 1 DVD (so it will play on US and Canadian DVD players).
When progressive London doctor Nathan Abbleby (Colin Morgan) brings his business-minded wife Charlotte (Charlotte Spencer) to his rural roots to take over the farm that his newly dead mother has willed to him, they find their modern thinking pressed up against backwoods myths about hexes and witches, charms and potions, and yes even ghosts. The 1890s was a tricky time to live because worlds were colliding. Herbal potions exist alongside science-tested drugs, and the agricultural revolution was both rescuing suffering farmland and putting hardworking farmhands out of a job. But Nathan never expected a collision of the world of the living and the world of the dead. His farm is open to ghosts of the recently dead, the long since dead, and even the not yet dead.
The Living and the Dead is not like other ghost stories. I don’t like period pieces, but by the end of the first episode, you realize that there is something else afoot here. I wound up watching all six episodes in one sitting. At first you think it’s going to be a typical monster-of-the-week ghost story. Then you think it might be like the film The Others. But then you find out it is neither. It is much more complicated, surprising, and rewarding that than.
Stars Morgan and Spencer are both fantastic in this, especially in the last two episodes when Nathan has his Hamlet moment and Charlotte struggles with whether she should stand by him or cut her losses.
I will warn you that, even though the story all wraps up into a nice little bow, Pharoah does throw in an extra twist at the end, giving us a cliffhanger into next season. Let’s hope it gets picked up. When Pharoah’s previous show Eternal Law did not get picked up after one hell of a cliffhanger, it was devastating to leave those characters to their unknown fates.
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