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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bedlam Season One on DVD

     Bedlam Heights is a mental institution that has been in Kate Bettany's (Charlotte Salt, The Tudors, Wildfire) family for three hundred years. Now her father, Warren (Hugo Speer, Bleak House) has turned it into upscale apartments, making Kate the manage in charge of renting it out. This proves difficult, even before the ghosts of the building's former patients begin haunting the residents. Luckily, Kate's cousin, Jed (Theo James, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), who has seen his own share of institutions, shows up, and has the ability to see the ghosts. Jed proves invaluable to Kate, helping the dead find peace, though Warren isn't happy to see him. The result of all this drama is Bedlam, and Season One of the series is out on DVD today.

     Jed crashes on Kate's couch, for lack of money and a better place. This makes things a little crowded, as Kate already has two flatmates. Molly (Ashley Madekwe, Revenge, Secret Diary of a Call Girl) is a childhood friend of Jed and Kate's, who harbors a bit of a crush on Ryan (Will Young, Mrs. Henderson Presents). Ryan is a nerdy, oblivious young man, still grieving over the murder of his brother.

     Each of the six season one episodes features a different ghost haunting the halls of Bedlam. But rarely do the stories stop with a stand alone tale from the past. Several of the visitors tie into people in the real world, including a patient living in the basement, and Kate's family history. As the series goes on, there is even discovery of some secrets about Jed's past, which he doesn't even know about. As such, there is a lot of mythology present, and not just standard procedural stuff. Oh, and lots of spooky moments that will make viewers jump.

     Also, there is a lot of sex in Bedlam. From a roommate hookup in episode one, to Kate's affair with a married man named Sean (Sean Maguire, The Class, Eve), more than one person jumps into bed with another. Is this because the cast is young and attractive, as well as reasonably talented? Or does fear and attraction just go hand in hand? After all, most thriller films have some element of the nasty going on. Why not a scary show, too?

     For a reference folks on the side of the pond will get, Bedlam may most resemble FX's American Horror Story, though is inferior in a number of ways. Bedlam's cast is good, but not as much so as the American series. Also, the back story and effects aren't explored as nicely, but a lower budget may explain that. Overall, though, Bedlam is definitely one of the more successful attempts at the genre (see: TV movies the SyFy channel makes), and worth a look, if one enjoys this type of story. There isn't likely to be much cross-audience appeal for those not already into being frightened.

     The packaging of Bedlam is interesting because it says "Season One," instead of the more British-friendly "Series One." As it airs on BBC America in the states, and is made by the British, one can only assume the packaging reflects marketing specific to Americans. Also, a second series has not yet been ordered, although apparently the writing on it has begun, so it's unclear if this is the complete series, or just the first installment.

     Either way, a scary little ghostly adventure. If you like the genre, check it out. Buy Bedlam Season One today.

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