by Brad Nelson 2/18/14
Imagine a Catholic-themed television series produced in the UK that is (all things considered) kind to Christian beliefs and hostile to atheism. You might think I am in need of an exorcism myself for suggesting that such a thing could exist, especially in the UK.
Imagine, also, Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, presented not as a vast wasteland of forever-kindergarten milquetoast harmlessness leading to narcissism and moral torpor, but as an actual fight between good and evil in which one must choose clear sides.
Martin Shaw plays Father Jacob who is next in line to become the Vatican’s chief exorcist. And, for some reason, Satan isn’t looking forward to his promotion (nor are some of the bigwigs in the Vatican). In order to unleash his new armies on earth, Satan (acting through his minions) must tempt Father Jacob, break his faith, and bring him down. Can this fearless and faithful priest hold up against these demonic forces while also fighting his own bureaucracy in the Church?
And you’ll likely be thinking along with me as you see behind the scenes in this Cosmic battle, “What if reality was really like that? What if demons (or saints) actually could possess people? And what if reality became a sort of battle of incantations in which one side wins if it can say the right words in the right order using the right relics?” (And this is analogous to our battle with the Left here at StubbornThings as we look for the right combination of words as a way to exorcise Leftism from our midst.)
Father Jacob plays an amiable, tolerant, but not completely wussified priest. His relentlessness and good manners see him through most obstacles, including the common incredulousness in others that things such as evil influences and possession actually exist. But no matter. He fights on, sometimes helped (but more often obstructed) by the nun, Sister Ruth, sent by a higher-up in the Vatican to spy on him. Sister Ruth is played by Siobhan Finneran, otherwise known as the scheming servant, Sarah O’Brien, from Downton Abbey. There is some similarity between these two characters.
The main conduit of evil is the unkempt Michael (sometimes possessed by Astaruth) played by Rick Warden. You can’t help thinking throughout this series that if only this bedraggled character would get a shave, the demons would lose interest in him. And although Warden infuses this character with a tragic and haunted self-destructiveness, his character is a bit one-dimensional and seems to do stupid things regularly just to move the plot along.
But all in all, it’s a fun and sometimes frightening ride through the mystical and demonic world of the primal battle between the forces of God and Evil. That Britain herself has already sided with the latter makes it somewhat remarkable that a series such as this would be produced as late as 2008 in that country.
Although one can write this off as a mere horror flick, the very essence of Christian and Catholic belief is more or less upheld instead of mocked. And atheists are generally shown in a bad light (remarkable, again). That’s not to say that Catholics will like this six-episode mini-series. But I don’t suppose they will hate it either. But Martin Shaw makes it work in his fine performance as a somewhat low-key Satanic ass-kicker.
Apparitions is available for streaming on Netflix. • (3200 views)