Get behind me Satan, Fox has declared. The network is casting out the demons that have plagued them. In one fell swoop, they took down the series Lucifer, and with a few splashes of holy water, expelled The Exorcist, according to Variety.
As popular as demons seem to be, what with the exorcism frenzy going on in Italy, that hasn’t translated to the small screen. The Exorcist was the lowest-rated show on Fox this year, in spite of some quality writing, acting and directing. It only pulled in about 1.32 million viewers in the all-important 18-49 demo. Maybe reality is scarier than fiction for kids.
When the show was first reported to be in danger, the creator of The Exorcist series, Jeremy Slater, admitted the ratings haven’t been heaven sent. In the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence on Fantasia, Mickey Mouse enchants some shapely brooms to fetch water to the beat of “Night on Bald Mountain,” until the bearded sorcerer himself rings bells and whistles “Ave Maria,” not exactly a toe-tapper piece, and trips up the bristles. The Exorcist would take too much effort to bring it enough viewers to justify the blatant demonic forces at play.
The Exorcist could have been a devilishly delightful addition to network horror genre programming as they compete with Netflix. But the show hasn’t scared up enough fans.
“We definitely have passionate fans at the network and at the studio,” Slater told Entertainment Weekly when repossession first appeared imminent. “We just don’t have the audience.”
It is a shame the producers of The Exorcist felt compelled to steer away from lower forces to revive their show. There are spiritual tricks the show’s runners could do to run around it.
The series could have explored a whole world of alternatives, and the series planned to. Slater and showrunner Sean Crouch were all set to tell a 7-year story, each year focusing on a different case of possession.
In an exclusive interview with Den of Geek, Slater said the “writers dived into a lot of different religions and different cultures and examined the ways that other cultures have different name for some of these same primal forces. Different ways to combat this evil.”
Slater explained the show would have gotten into it this season, “but unfortunately we ran out of time and space and decided to keep that in our back pocket, instead of doing a poor job at representing another religion or culture.”
At the time of the interview, on the eve of the season finale, Slater said he was “very hopeful that if the show is lucky enough to get a third or fourth season that that is something we can start introducing.”
Fans of The Exorcist appreciated how the series broke new gounds in the devil possession genre, and would appreciate a further expansion beyond the mythology of the Catholic Church. But it takes more than reciting the 91st Psalm and humming a couple verses of “Ave Maria.”
“Evil spirits can’t just be banished, they need a place to go,” says Hollywood Witch Marie Bargas. “In the United States, they’re simply told to leave and are expected to obey the command and they don’t.”
Fans hoping for the series to be rebirthed on another network or cable station should know that such diabolical inveigling could be countered by bringing in spirit depossessors from the East.
“In the Hindu tradition, ghosts and evil spirits are cast out, but then they are put into underground prisons so they can never come back,” Bargas explains. “Or should it be consigned to TV land which is a tomb of sorts.”
The Exorcist Season 2 focused on Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) and former priest Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels). It moved past the Rance family, Geena Davis, Alan Ruck, Hannah Kasulka, and Brianne Howey, of season 1. The first season was a continuation of a the 1973 feature film The Exorcist, based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel. The Exorcist Season 3 would go farther afield into the war of the Holy Roman Church itself, and Disney has had quite enough conspiracies.