A series I missed first time around was The Exorcist, the Fox TV series based upon the 1973 classic film by William Friedkin. Turns out, I’ve just also missed the first half of Season 2, which is currently playing on SyFy in the UK, a channel I hadn’t realised now appears in the channel list for NowTV. Season 1 is on Amazon Prime, however.
Now, I’m an atheist and I don’t buy into the Judeo-Christian theology at the heart of The Exorcist. I never have found it particularly frightening, but it is a superb film, especially in its editing and its use of sound. The use of Tubular Bells on the soundtrack is one of the things that sticks in the memory, and there’s a moment in Episode 1 of the TV series where they drop that music in as a kind of reference, and you realise that the show itself is in safe hands. You get a similar feeling in the new Star Trek Discovery: the people making the show have respect both for the source and the audience.
The Exorcist on TV does a good job of opening up the story in a new place and time, covering familiar beats but without contriving a situation that is exactly the same as the original. It might have sagged in a couple of places, with its producers’ insistence on getting to 10 episodes, but there were enough twists and turns (and a larger and ongoing story arc concerning the corrupting influence of evil) that it didn’t descend into longueurs. Mind you, my other half described it as nasty, so it’s not for everyone.
The first episode is a solid start, and was well-reviewed, but the show really rewards you if you stick with it, and by episode 5 or so, you’ll be hanging on every moment, and you’ve no idea how it’s all going to end. The series sets itself up for a Series 2, but rather than leaving you unsatisfied, you just want to see where it goes to next.
When I allowed my Amazon Prime membership to lapse earlier this year, one of the unfortunate side effects was that I was halfway through Season 3 of Casual, which is a show you might not have heard of. It’s in that horrible hybrid genre, the dramedy, which might be enough to put you off, but shouldn’t. The initial premise of the show was that a guy who has been very financially successful with a dating app is himself fairly hopeless at dating, as are his divorced sister and her teenage daughter.
But the show soon moves on from the suspect algorithms of dating apps and just lives with the people and their slightly broken selves and failing relationships. The characters are introduced organically, and the friendships (casual, natch) are portrayed in a fairly natural way. It’s not gloomy, however: just gently cynical and slightly melancholy about how modern life and our devices create distance between us. If you’re not in tears at the end of episode 10 of season 3, there’s something wrong with you. By the time you do get to Season 3, switching it on is oddly comforting, and I realised last night when I picked up the series at Episode 8 after a long gap that I had missed it.
It’s funny: it’s one of those shows, I don’t think about it much, or discuss it, or even rush to watch it, and yet when I sit down in front of it, I’ll happily watch several in a row. It’s a Hulu series in the States, so doesn’t suffer from the Amazon Problem.