Long, long ago, in a time when there was no second life for cancelled TV shows, I badgered my friends to watch ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. Some of them took my advice, some didn’t. The show got the axe after its 3rd season.
A few years later, when ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT first hit Netflix, but before they announced a 4th season, my buddy Dan came to me and said, “You were right. I should have checked out ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT sooner.” I remember it because I never forget when people tell me I’m right. It doesn’t happen as often as I think it should, so a savor those moments.
This time, though, I fear I’ll be having the same conversation with friends and internet peeps soon because for some reason, not enough of us are giving THE EXORCIST a shot, and those of you who aren’t… you’ll regret it later on.
Now, I want to be super honest with you, I’m late to the party here; I didn’t start watching THE EXORCIST until the third episode aired. It wasn’t that I was against the show or anything like that, I just hadn’t watched it. When I did though, I fell for it right away. The show, created by Jeremy Slater and based on William Peter Blatty’s novel (which the classic film is also based on) is tense, but not afraid to slip in some humor from time to time. It is spooky, but filled with so much heart. It is gory, but never gory just to be gory – the gore matters, it helps push the story.
And that is the real secret to THE EXORCIST; everything is done to push the story, and the story isn’t interested in repeating what William Friedkin did back in 1973. Sure, there are similarities – they are using the same source material after all – but, at least so far, you’re not going to see an updated CG version of the pea soup puke scene.
I’m not going to spend time telling you what the show is about not because you already know what it’s about, but because I don’t want to risk spoiling anything for you. Here is what I’m willing to tell you:
This Doesn’t Feel Like a Basic Network Show
There’s a definitive difference between the shows you see on NBC, CBS, or ABC and the shows you see on AMC or FX. The basic network shows, the shows you could watch if you stuck an antenna on your TV, have strict rules to follow, and those rules tend to make these shows feel a little cookie cutter. You know that Bones and her team will solve the murder and Boothe will arrest the bad guy. You know that Phil and Claire will never divorce, and that Gloria loves Jay. I’m not saying that is always a bad thing, just that you pretty much know what you’re going to get when you watch HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. You know you likely won’t see anything too shocking or overly suggestive. You feel safe.
THE EXORCIST doesn’t feel safe. Almost right away, the show filled me with a sense of dread, like watching a car crash on the highway and knowing there’s nothing you could do to stop it, but feeling wrong for not turning away. There is at least one moment in each of the five episodes that has aired so far that had me audibly gasp or just straight up yell out with a solid “Holy shit!” That is something that, for me, can only happen when a show has two things going for it – I care about the characters, and I can’t figure out what will happen next.
Also, some of the gore is real rough. I don’t know how much is practical effects and how much is CG, but I don’t think much CG is used. It all looks great, and it all looks nasty.
This Is Not A Remake Or Reboot
This story is current day. It isn’t about a single mom raising her rambunctious daughter. It is about a family of four, and each character is fleshed out and so well casted. Geena Davis, in particular, is great as Angela Rance, the mother of the family. Alan Ruck is super solid as Henry. His eyes hold so much sorrow and hope at the same time, it really is supernatural. Brianne Howey as oldest kid Kat plays the skeptic part without bringing in an ounce of jerk to it (I personally find that skeptical characters in supernatural shows and movies tend to be played as assholes). And Hannah Kasulka, playing youngest daughter Casey, plays every scene, every moment, as true.
This is the strength of THE EXORCIST that isn’t there in the original movie – a family that is being torn apart by what is happening to them.
The show also makes it clear real early that there’s going to be a lot more than just exorcisms. Something big is on the horizon, something that will change the world that the show takes place in. Which is why I really want all of you to start watching. I am dying to see where the story goes.
This Is The Best Horror Show On TV
I may get some flack for this, but it’s true.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY is constant hype that bleeds out and becomes a mess of a show. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or read “Last season sucked, but this season is great!” during the first six episodes of a new season of AHS, I could buy a four bedroom house with 3 acres in full.
SCREAM QUEENS is just not very good.
SCREAM is OK, but it feels like a show being made by people who aren’t allowed to go full out with what they want to do.
FEAR THE WALKING DEAD wasted a great premise of the start of a zombie outbreak to instead just become WEST COAST WALKING DEAD. Yawn.
THE WALKING DEAD is a stone cold bore. Yeah, the gore is great, but my goodness, every season is the same damn thing. Why the shit would any of these people still follow Rick?
THE EXORCIST isn’t filled with half assed and obvious red herrings. It isn’t relying on simple jump scares. It doesn’t mistake strange or uncomfortable for scary. It understands that fear is an emotion that comes through by spending time building up the tension and keeping the audience off balance.
So this is my request to you; watch the first five episodes. If it hasn’t grabbed you by then, all you lost was a Saturday night. Not giving THE EXORCIST a go could end up costing you, and countless others so much more. It could cost us all an honestly good show. Every single person in front of and behind the camera of THE EXORCIST is clearly working their butts off to make something special for us. The least you could do is give it a chance.
*All Photos: THE EXORCIST; 20th Century Fox Television