PASADENA — The passing of a loved one is one of the most traumatic events a person will face in his or her life. The new ABC drama "Resurrection" looks at what that happens in a small town when those who have died — some years and years ago — begin to return to life.
"I think that anytime something like this happens, in reality, people would have very strong reactions, both positive and negative, to an experience of something like this," says Aaron Zelman, executive producer. "And this show, 'Resurrection,' does not shy away from any of the darkness that comes with that experience."
Those reactions come immediately in the first episode when an 8-year-old boy, Jacob (Landon Gimenez), found in a rural Chinese province, is discovered to be from a small American town. Immigration agent J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps) takes Jacob home and discovers a complicated mystery. He's the son of a now-elderly couple, Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher), who lost Jacob when he died more than 30 years ago.
They've aged, but Jacob is still 8. Lucille's happy to have her child home; Henry has trouble with this apparent miracle.
"There's a great mix of emotions because not only does he get the privilege of having somebody that he lost come back after 30 years, but it's complicated by the fact that tampers with the memory of the child that he's lost, and it forces him to re-examine what he's done with his life for the last 30 years," Smith says. "So those sorts of things cause a real emotional stew in his life.
Only eight episodes have been ordered, but the series could go on because many of the stories will be ongoing. If the show runs for years, there are plenty of new characters waiting in the cemetery to join the mystery.
The show deals with resurrections, but its producers are being very careful not to delve into any specific religious teachings. Zelman says the trick it to approach it honestly.
"What does faith mean to different people? It means different things to different people, and you don't have to discuss any specific religion or worry about offending any specific group if you just approach it from the standpoint of every human being who has ever been born has questions about how we got here and who or what is responsible — if there is someone responsible — for us being here," Zelman says.
A lot of the religious elements will be addressed through Mark Hildreth's character, Pastor Tom Hale. With each person who returns from the dead, he begins to question his own beliefs and teachings. At the same time, many of those who are scared or confused about the resurrections are looking to him for guidance.
It's a complicated role that Hildreth has embraced.
"My character was the best friend of the little boy who comes back," he says. "I lose my best friend as an 8 year old and now I have been preaching the miracles of God for 10 years. Then when I see a real miracle in front of me, I can't believe it's true."
"Resurrection": 9 p.m. Sunday, March 9, on KFSN (Channel 30.1)