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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Fox’s ‘Exorcist’ series is deeply creepy (Season 1 open thread)

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At the behest of my friend and colleague Nikki Baughan, I just finished Season 1 of Fox’s TV series The Exorcist. And I can highly recommend it. Inspired by the William Peter Blatty novel (which was the basis for the 1973 film), it is incredibly unnerving in ways that filmed horror often fails to achieve, partly because it has a lot more time — we get 10 45-minute episodes here — to create an inching envelopment by evil of the Rance family of Chicago. There are some fantastic performances here — particular by Geena Davis as the mom worried that her teenaged daughter is possessed by a demon and Ben Daniels as the badass exorcist — and a few sneaky feminist touches, such as the cloistered nuns who perform a loving sort of exorcism that’s more about the warm embrace of Christ compelling evil spirits to leave mere mortals alone than violence and shouting to drive them out.

I also love how effortlessly diverse the show is: the primary central character is a Mexican priest played by Alfonso Herrera, and one major Vatican honcho is played by black British actor Kurt Egyiawan; both of them are wonderful. There are also many intriguing female characters, such as the Rance daughters, played by Hannah Kasulka and Brianne Howey (who actually look like sisters!). I love, too, that the show is as much about the corporeal political power of the Church as an institution as it is about the supernatural — which, there is no doubt, is really real here, which makes it easier to suspend disbelief about, at least in the context of the story. And it also comes up with really plausible and actually understandable motives for the demons!

Good stuff. I eagerly await Season 2.

The thread is yours to discuss the show in as much depth as you wish. Assume massive spoilers in the comments. (Not a spoiler, but there’s a comment I made in my review of the 1973 film that would seem to be reflected in these 10 episodes. I wonder if series creator Jeremy Slater read my review, or merely thinks along the same lines as me.)

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  • Jurgan

    I’ve never been a fan of the Exorcist movie. Everything people remember is from the last half hour or so, but it’s such a long slog to get to it, and I found the first hour or more simply boring. Your assertion that there’s more time to build up doesn’t fill me with confidence. I suppose the build up could be done well, but the movie didn’t do so, as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, this:

    I love, too, that the show is as much about the corporeal political power of the Church as an institution as it is about the supernatural

    is intriguing.

  • Wow, I very much disagree.
    It started out interesting, but quickly fell apart. It was terribly cliched in everything it did. There was nothing scary, as we have seen it all before numerous times.
    I actually thought Genna Davis was terribly distracting ( It’s sad that she felt the need to have cosmetic surgery done, but that’s the shitty tv world we live in. Her face barely moved) in the role. Not good. Would have preferred a lesser known actress.
    I was intrigued by all the behind the scenes church goings ons, but it never panned out to much. It was all rushed in the end, and was very unsatisfying.
    I did like the two priests, and the black fellow.
    I don’t recall hearing if it did well ratings-wise, but I doubt it. I never heard, or read about, anyone else watching it. Well, until now, that is.

  • This show is not the plot of the movie dragged out to 10 hours. Not at all.

  • Jurgan

    Good, I’ll add it to my (very long) list of shows to watch when I get the time.

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