Apparitions? Never seen anything like it.

This extraordinary show stars Martin Shaw. It is premised, like his last, on paranoid conspiracy theories. That’s the only description for a scenario which pitches Satan and his minions as – literally – real. How come it’s upbeat?

I hadn’t come across demons since a Greek Orthodox abbot sat on the end of my bed in his monastery on Athos and described his battles with them. Real ones?, I asked in an amused way. Naturally, he replied, a little surprised at my lack of education in the ways of the world. (See a free download of my 1986 book, Fools For God.)

The BBC says the show is about the supernatural. I suppose that’s the post-religious word for what a secular mind assumes is a fantasy. I wonder what would be a better word? Transcendental?

Apparitions is very clever because it doesn’t quite descend into science fiction, or into Hammer horror, or into anti-Establishment doom-mongering. It isn’t kitsch and it isn’t trendy. This makes it a little like Michael, in which John Travolta plays an archangel with such flair that it rings true as well as comedic.

It is less preposterous than Judge John Deeds and less doomy than Spooks.

It has various cheery dimensions. Our man is on the side of the angels – the good ones anyway. We are fairly sure that God’s will will be done in the end.

All in all, I was amazed. And most of all because this was a show which took old-time, culturally-rich, religion seriously.

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Publication date

21 November 2008

Categories

On TV & Radio