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TV REVIEW: 'Meadowlands' is strange and enthralling

If you relish the devious darkness of "Dexter" and the wonderful wackiness of "Weeds," you'll love the macabre moodiness of "Meadowlands," Showtime's newest distinctively different series.

"Meadowlands," an eight-part series premiering Sunday night at 10 EDT, is a British drama about a community in rural England where a man, his wife and his children have been placed as part of the witness protection program.

The place - filmed at an actual community called Maidstone, in the county of Kent - looks impossibly charming, like the pastel suburbs of "Edward Scissorhands." As the Brogans soon find out, though, their new neighbors are every bit as strange as the residents of "Twin Peaks."

They're also, and this is the true brilliance of the premise of writer Robert Murphy's series, in the witness protection program, just like the Brogans. So long as they stay in town, and listen to their respective handlers who advise and occasional meddle from outside, they're safe.

Except from each other. And since the Meadowlands is populated by people with mysterious, often unsavory pasts, there's lots of danger, and weird behavior, within the city limits.

The newest family in Meadowlands arrives blindfolded. The patriarch, Danny Brogan, (David Morrissey, "Viva Blackpool"), loves his family but has a clear problem with authority. Evelyn (Lucy Cohu), his wife, has her own issues, and just as much of a rebellious nature. Their names are new, but their passion and conflicts are not.

Their twin children, Zoe (Felicity Jones) and Mark (Harry Treadaway), aren't exactly conformists, either. She's exploring her sexuality, and likes to dress in slinky outfits and flirt with the locals-_ and so does he. And yes, that goes for the outfits and makeup, at least at first.

Other residents of Meadowlands are no less aggressively unique. Bernard (Ralph Brown) is the town's only cop, and police brutality is one of his specialties. Jezebel (Ella Smith) is the town beauty, and makes an indelible first - and second - impression. And Jack (Tom Hardy), while playing the role of the town handyman, isn't very good at disguising his urges as a feral and dangerous sexual predator.

It takes a village to put this much strangeness in one place, and what "Meadowlands" does with it is refreshingly original and addictive. You'll care about these people almost instantly, even if they're never to be trusted, or believed.