Why You Should be Watching ‘The Exorcist’ TV Series
I can see it now; in a year from now you’ll browse Netflix looking for something to watch during a fit of boredom. You’ll come across The Exorcist TV series, hesitate, but decide to give it a shot after noticing that the first season is only 10 episodes long. Before you know it, you’ll have devoured the entire season and eagerly anticipate the next season. Only, it’s not coming. You’ll have realized too late that The Exorcist television series was not that paint-by-numbers adaptation that you thought it would be, but something far greater than you could have anticipated. It’s not too late, though, to prevent yet another worthy horror series from falling by the wayside.
The idea of any adaptation of William Friedkin’s classic, be it film or television, is an understandable turnoff for many. The 1973 film became the standard by which all subsequent possession horror films borrowed heavily from, and inadvertently caused burnout for many fans. There’s also those that are simply just not a fan of the film, or the subgenre from the outset. So when news broke of a new series adaptation, the automatic, knee-jerk assumption was that it would be a drawn out replay of the well-trodden original film’s narrative. Boring, right? Like many, I also felt dismissive as I rolled my eyes at the headlines.
Casting news gave me pause, though. Namely, that of award winning actress Geena Davis. Why would Geena Davis want to play a lead role in a re-tread on the small screen? Talented actors like Alan Ruck and Ben Daniels also signed on. My curiosity fully piqued, I tuned in to the pilot episode.
While the premiere was well put together, beautifully shot, atmospheric, and brimming with a talented cast, the narrative started out too similar to the source material. The familiar story beats of the original played out, though in much quicker succession, and it seemed obvious that my fears of a dull replay were going to come true. Until it didn’t. Show creator Jeremy Slater was purposefully toying with our expectations, lulling us with the familiarity of predictability, only to rip the bottom out from under us in the final moments of the premiere. Slater made it abundantly clear by episode’s end that his series was not a lazy retelling, but something wholly new, different, and excitingly unpredictable.
The brilliance of this show continues to shine brighter with each episode. This series exists within the same universe as the original film, though centered on a different family in a different city. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that there’s a much larger scope to this story, adding a new level of mystery. Earlier flaws end up becoming ingenious foreshadowing. The complexity of both the narrative and characters builds with each level, creating a momentum rarely seen in current television. Despite expanding the universe and subverting all of the tropes the original film created, the series often plays clever homages to the original. Iconic images or dialogue serves as a crafty wink to fans, yet still blends seamlessly into the fabric of the show.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t touch on episode 5. Talk about the mother of all plot reveals. Those final moments of episode 5 will leave you reeling, screaming at your TV, and begging for more episodes. Bravo, writers, for pulling off a move that no one could have predicted.
Between the writing and the multifaceted characters, this is the best show on TV that you’re not watching. You really should be. It’s atmospheric, creepy, psychological, and mysterious. You want to see Ben Daniels’ take as Father Marcus Keane, the most interesting and entertaining priest to grace the small screen. You’ll want to try and guess where this series is going; go ahead, I dare you to try. It’s not too late to get hooked on this series, to let Fox know that we want more before it’s too late. Because you will want more.
The Exorcist airs on Fox on Fridays, and you can get caught up here.