November 14th, 2008

Apparitions

The Catholic Church has a war on its hands. The demons are mustering and the only man who stands between them and whatever it is they want- the only man they truly fear- is Martin Shaw's grizzle-bearded priest.
 
Hokum, of course, but what sets Apparitions apart from other shows in the same vein is that it's being played entirely straight- just as the Exorcist was all those years ago. This isn't the Buffyverse, the demonic threat is real-  and Shaw's priest is - or at least at this stage of the proceedings seems to be- entirely uncomplicated; wise, devout, faithful, all those things that fictional priests so rarely have been in the Graham Greene era.  And the strategy works- for the first time in ages I was genuinely unsettled by on-screen horror. So what is this- the new seriousness? Post-post-modernism? Is it too early to proclaim the death of irony?

I take it as a straw in the wind. Religion, having been a side issue for most of the latter half of the 20th century, is now mainstream again. People are sufficiently interested in faith, redemption, holiness, theologically defined good and evil, to watch a show that uses these things as its counters. On the one hand The God Delusion (which Shaw's priest says he's read),  on the other hand stuff like this. We thought we were moving inexorably into a world where shopping malls would crowd out the churches.  We were wrong.