Monday, November 17, 2008


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 because the fiendishly complicated plot was broken down into endless scenes which went like this:

MARTIN SHAW: You're possessed by the 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.


Lippy said...

I know I have a vested interest - but why are mothers always portrayed as utterly vacuous on tv?

Grandmothers are cool, aunts, uncles, spinster relatives - the next door neighbour (see Sarah Jane Smith) but your acutal mother is always practically retarded.

Skip said...

Bloody good point, that woman!

Talk about Blind Faith, that mother just kept on going, like an
eschatological Big Trak.

Orchis said...

Priests ! Cardinals ! Devils ! Princess Di ! Gays ! Saints ! Miracles ! Nuns ! I was breathless with anticipation. Would it be as camp and mad as 'Bonekickers' ? Would it be a spooky 'Spooks' ? Unfortunately no: just dull, worthy and wordy.

I've bought and read yer book. I thought it perfectly captured the tone and characters of the TV series and I'm sure it will be a welcome addition to many a Christmas stocking. They really should hire you to write some episodes. Lots of fun blog and Cardiff spotting and I liked the implication that Captain J. might have shagged Derek Jarman. Slightly disappointed that for Emma the globe was Cheryl and not Nicola.

Skip said...

oh bless you Orchis. And what do you mean there's huge chunks of blog hastily recycled into book? You'd almost think it was written in a hurried panic. I resent that implication. And am still amazed I got away with having Cheryl from Girls Aloud as the villain. But there we are.

Lexxie said...

I came home yesterday to a copy of your book left neatly on my little Aussie doorstep. Read it in an afternoon and found myself reading it aloud and striding about the house with the exciting bits. Beautiful, Mister Goss, bloody gorgeous! Looking forward to your hasty BBC takeover.

Skip said...

really? blimey. ta lexxie.