The ZRC’s Cultural Historian Andrew Leal suggested that I take a look at ‘Mind My Brains, Darling’, a new web comedy series concerning the Differently Animated, and I’m glad that he did so, as it has turned out to offer us a small glimmer of hope from increasingly Anti-Zombie Europe.
‘Mind My Brains, Darling’ is an alternate history period piece, set in 1979 in what’s left of the United Kingdom after a globe-devastating Zombie Apocalypse. Only England survived the outbreak as ‘plucky’ British scientists found a treatment for the Zombile population, curing them of their need to eat human flesh. A subsequent legal ruling establishing that Zombies were not ‘dead’ meant that the state had to reintegrate these individuals, who still suffered some unfortunate side effects from their Zombification. Prejudice and misunderstanding, along with rampant fear, remain endemic.
All of this is the setup for a very *British* comedy series:
Set in Britain in 1979, Mind My Brains, Darling! follows the ups and downs of family life with the Worthingtons – a typical family with a mum, dad, two kids and a grandfather. Typical that is, for a peri-apocalyptic society ravaged by war and zombies for the past 4 years. Oh, and the dad is a Zombie.
Following in the Great British sitcom tradition, Mind My Brains, Darling! can best be described as ‘Terry and June‘ married by ‘The Vicar of Dibley‘ meets ‘Dad’s Army‘ by way of ‘Shaun Of The Dead‘. Each episode is 5-8 minutes long and is a self-contained story. Season 1 will comprise 6 episodes.
The first two episodes of ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ are currently up and available at Blip.tv, with more to follow, leaving the question for the Zombie Rights movement: how do Zombies fare in the show, and how does it relate to The Cause?
Well.. it’s a bit of a mixed bag, honestly. Zombies are depicted here as more or less mentally incapacitated invalids, people who shamble from place to place, flail wildly while trying to accomplish basic tasks, and groan constantly.
On the other hand, the featured Zombie, family man Jeremy, comes off about as well as any other adult authority figure. A recurring joke seems to be how similar Jeremy’s current state is to the family’s retired Grandfather, a man still oriented to his days in the military whom everyone refers to as ‘The Colonel’. The Colonel is also a character who communicates in unintelligible (to the audience) noises, and who almost never leaves the comfort of his chair in the dining room, watching over the rest of the family.
Larger society has a complex relationship with the Zombie population. There is an elaborate and somewhat sly alternate history presented as ancillary material to the show, detailing how a very poorly acronymed Zombie Rights group won a landmark court ruling in Post-Apocalyptic Britain respecting the fundamental legal existence of the Undead – but most likely only because of a severe post-war labor shortage. The Undead are corralled into menial labor fields, despite their apparent relative lack of coordination, and paid a minimum wage, while the rest of society struggles on in a largely agrarian quasi-subsistence existence.
Naturally up to this point you would be forgiven for expecting this review to land somewhere south of the Zombie Neutral line; we have a Zombie Apocalypse, an oppressed minority (or perhaps, globally a majority) population of the Differently Animated who suffer from stereotyping and distrust by the remaining Living population, who are still constantly in search of a ‘Cure’ for their ‘disease’. However…
In spite of all that, the ‘cannibalistic plague’, the quasi-slave labor, the official state sanctioned oppression, the intolerance and misunderstanding, the fact remains that Jeremy’s Living family loves and accepts him, defends his continued existence from a paranoid world, and trusts him implicitly. That counts; that counts for a lot, in fact, here at the ZRC. It serves as a useful model of peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and respect, even love for your fellow man (who happens to be a Zombie).
We’ve given Zombie Friendly ratings before in the past to stories that sympathize with the Undead even while portraying their Unlives under difficult circumstances, and I see no reason to break that tradition here. There is much to like in ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ from a Zombie Rights perspective, and we hope the series continues to live up to the already high standards for tolerance and even affection toward Zombies that it has already established for itself.
The Zombie Rights Campaign awards ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ a Zombie Friendly rating as of its second episode; as with all episodic content, the rating may be reviewed and updated as events warrant.
‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ can be seen on Blip.tv here.
Additional Notes: ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ is presented in ‘Bodyline’, a unique cinematographic technique tailored for web video. Rest assured, you are not somehow losing the top to every frame, you are not supposed to be able to see the characters’ faces.
Also: Given that this is quasi vintage Brit-com, expect pratfalls, occasional innuendo and lots of exasperated tolerance of the unceasing minor frustrations of day to day life. Also, constant tea-drinking.