A look at "Dead Set"

The following was sent to us by site regular and Jr. Correspondant BigWinters. Winters lives in the UK and this is a review of a miniseries that recently aired there called "Dead Set", which is basically a mix of zombie film and reality show. Enjoy.

With the start of Dead Set on October 27th the UK finally has a show that the rest of the world has to wait to watch. With Heroes a year behind the American show, and with shows like Dexter and Lost being hard to find it's quite refreshing for it to be the other way round for a chance. For me anyway.

Dead Set is a five-part series written by Charlie Brooker. Brooker is an acclaimed journalist for The Guardian newspaper, as well as appearing in many comedy shows such as Have I Got News For You and Eight Out Of Ten Cats. He is also a horror nut and has already confessed his love of zombie films, and including various hidden references throughout the show.

The majority of the actors are fairly unknown, with exceptions such as Andy Nyman, who appeared in Death at a Funeral, and Kevin Eldon who has appeared in many UK shows such as Doctor Who, Hyperdrive and Saxondale. He also starred as Sergeant Tony Fisher in Hot Fuzz.

The plot of Dead Set is your standard zombie apocalypse, except told inside a Reality TV show. The plot is similar to the Dawn Of The Dead remake, with the same type of running zombies.

The first episode starts on Eviction Night for the TV show, called Big Brother. There was some confusion of my behalf as it starts off with a realistic Big Brother scene, however with a zombie attack early on, it dispels those thoughts quickly.

The show revolves around an assistant called Kelly, played by Jaime Winstone, daughter of Ray Winstone. She is used as a runner of the producer Patrick, played by Nyman. As she is the main character Brooker has seen fit to involve a love story around her, with her cheating on her long-term boyfriend. You can guess what happens next right? The new boy-friend turns to a zombie, and she has to kill it. In the mean time her long term boyfriend is said to be mugged by a family trying to flee the cities.

The first episode merely sets up the rest of the show, and as such doesn’t have time for much tension, and so focuses on characters and humour instead. Make no mistake; this is a horror show first, but with some great comedic moments.

The first episode sets up the zombie attack in the first quarter, giving a 28 Days Later feel to the rest of the show. It also involves some lesser thought of images in a zombie movie. What does a zombie do when it see’s itself in a mirror? Can a zombie in a wheelchair move? And what does the zombie think when it watches someone on TV? Shame, you Americans may never find out.

The first episode ends with Kelly finding her way inside the house, and having trouble conveying the fact that zombies are killing everyone to the housemates. As you would. However when the zombie comes in, and Kelly manages to crack its head with a fire extinguisher, they figure it out.

Episode 2 starts immediately from the end of Episode 1 with Kelly stuck in the house, and her boyfriend stuck at a train station, trying to get back home. This segment starts with her boyfriend, called Riq, being chased by a zombie, which raises another question, how long can a zombie run for? And when a zombie stops you from leaving, what do you do? Read a magazine according to Dead Set.

Also in this episode is the smart-talking, shotgun-carrying stereotype, by the name of Alex. Alex is a middle-aged woman by the way. She is used to help Riq meet back up with Kelly. I wonder what will happen to her? Well, if you’ve seen a few enough movies, you can already guess.

From here on out it gets steadily more and more unoriginal. As it’s meant to be seen as a feature length film, I won’t ruin the twists and turns, but if you’ve seen a fair few zombie films, you can guess where it goes.

Throughout the show there are some great moments, and some great red herrings to throw you off the ending, but in the end, it seems rushed. With quarter of an hour left, I wondered how they could close it up with so little time left. The ending works, but wastes the build up of the plot; also it seems to me to be a carbon copy of a certain George A Romero film.

So, do you think reality TV shows are pointless? Do you like zombies? Then you’ll like it. Just don’t expect anything new to happen. The show is to be to put onto a single DVD to be put on sale on November 3rd.

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