Reality television can be good, mindless fun. Big Brother was the catalyst for the reality TV flood at the turn of the century. So it’s fitting that when someone crossed the streams to incorporate reality TV and the zombie apocalypse, they used BB UK as the central location.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Set
Episodes 1 & 2
By A. Zombie
I’ll tell you right now, two episodes into Dead Set and I still have nothing emotionally invested in the show’s contestants. That’s not to say I haven’t found someone to root for during the end days—Kelly steals every scene she’s in, vastly improving what could have been five episodes of uninspiring reality stars wandering around until they were eaten.
I’d totally cheer if they were all eaten. I might even wave pompoms.
The show opens with a typical afternoon leading up to another eviction from the BB house, as dictated by fan votes. The household prepares, some touching up their nails, others banging out their nerves behind closed doors. In the production office, Kelly delivers an endless stream of coffee to the crew. The producer, Patrick, demonstrates what a skuzzball he really is while cutting together highlight reels for the event and barking orders at his frazzled staff. Nothing is amiss until we catch snippets from news reports—strange deaths, attacks on police, etc. The reports grow in severity, leading Patrick to worry his precious eviction episode will be preempted in favor of a news bulletin. God forbid.
Eventually, the chaos reaches the remote location for the BB house and production office. The first zombie to arrive is a company driver—injured and brought to the studio by a production assistant who was sent with him to fetch a guest for the show. From there, the infection spreads through the gathered BB fans. By the time the evicted housemate, Pippa, makes it to the interview room, most of the crowd has turned. It takes mere minutes for the undead to overrun the offices.
The housemates hear the screams and think Pippa is a smash hit with the crowd. They crack open a few bottles, a few drinks to celebrate surviving to see another eviction night.
Little do they know, they’re probably the only ones celebrating in the UK.
The real story isn’t the housemates or their skeezy producer. Kelly provides the heartbeat, and common sense, for the show. While her love life is a feature in the beginning, it’s a non-issue by the time the second episode rolls out. There are a few amazing solo scenes with Kelly doing whatever it takes to survive. It’s not until she takes refuge in the BB house with the remaining cast that we realize she’s the entire braintrust. Where they are keen to believe for as long as possible that the weird things going on are staged, she’s ready to beat anyone to death who so much as looks undead. She’s also the only one with a plan to get medical supplies when a housemate is bitten.
The zombies themselves are minimally made-up, background creatures relying on pale faces, a few wounds, and blood to convey the undead message. We see a few hero zombies with better makeup, mostly in the second episode. There’s great detail in the close-up gore shots, though they’re so shaky, it’s like a toddler was thrown into the fight scenes with a Go Pro strapped to their head. These are also some seriously fast undead. It raises the stakes drastically when the living cannot outrun the dead. Something missing from other shows relying on compelling characters to drive the plot. Who needs to relate to the characters? Just give us zombie action.
While I’m enjoying Kelly’s story, and it’s the only reason I’ll watch the three remaining episodes, this would be much more entertaining with a better-written cast behind her. Patrick is a toad, utterly disgusting and should’ve died in the initial murders. The housemates barely have a brain cell between them. It makes their scenes difficult to endure to get to the actual story. Hopefully with Kelly breaking the barrier between the BB production team and the housemates, it’ll make their scenes bearable.