Apparitions ain’t no Bonekickers, more’s the pity. Martin Shaw! Exorcism! Joe Ahearne! Clearly, this should be an instant BBC classic… but it ain’t.
It looks beautiful. Martin Shaw is great – although it is hard to watch anything he’s in without remembering that the entire cast is put on a strict vegan diet – I spend most of my time assuming everyone on screen is wistfully imagining bacon. Because it’s Joe Ahearne the characters are thunderingly written, it’s creepy, and it looks lovely.
And yet… it ends up being terrifying and dull, like a powerpoint presentation on staff restructuring. I found myself watching and loving it, and yet also pottering off to do some washing-up. And in any drama that has nuns, that’s a bad sign.
Partly I suspect because the fiendishly complicated plot was broken down into endless scenes which went like this:
MARTIN SHAW: You’re possessed by a demon
DEMON DAD: No I’m not!
MARTIN SHAW: (look of infinite regret with a twinkle) Yes, you are.
DEMON DAD: No, I’m not! (weeps tears of blood)
When one of these scenes takes place in a lighting shop, your heart sinks. Yes, it’s so that Satan can switch all the lights off at the end of the scene (spooky), but it’s all so mundane. You really don’t get a sense of apocalypse when you’re clocking the “sale” tags on halogen fittings.
Also, the gays don’t come out of it well. Martin Shaw has a young seminary friend who is a bumder and worried that Satan cured his leprosy. When he’s kicked out of the church he goes to a gay sauna and gets skinned alive by a demon. Which is tragic and poignant etc etc and yet feels Very Old Fashioned and Not Much Fun. I thought we’d moved beyond telly dramas that show All Gays End Unhappily?
It was probably making some kind of point higher than that, but it didn’t register. And even in a gay sauna, the sounds of someone being skinned alive would attract attention – at the very least from pottering old voyeurs who mistook the screaming for someone having a Jolly Good Time.
I’ll carry on watching though. It is, after all, Joe Ahearne, plus it has a nun in it who’s dead snippy.