The Exorcist pilot, “Chapter One: And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee,” has all the subtlety of a thousand pound cross falling on your head, and it doesn’t even matter. Right off the bat, the least important aspect of this first dive into the reimagined Exorcist is the actual demonic possession.
Young and handsome Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) is the new superstar priest on the block. It’s comically apparent how annoyed and overwhelmed he is with all his needy parishioners. It doesn’t help that the Father is suffering from these incredibly lucid nightmares involving a priest named Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) performing an exorcism.
Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is dealing with a nearly catatonic husband, and a depressed daughter whose best friend was just killed in a car accident. Angela is convinced that her eldest daughter, Katherine (Brianne Howey), is more than just depressed. Angela believes that there is some demonic thing in her house. “I’m not crazy. It’s a demon,” she tells Father Tomas. “It’s trying to take my daughter.”
Somehow seeking help from Father Tomas veers into a “Carmela Soprano and Father Phil” situation.
All the characters are very reminiscent of the 1973 Exorcist with a little upgrade. The pilot definitely set a lot of gears in motion. Chapter one left no stone unturned. It gave viewers comedy, jump scares, a few characters too many, and about four distinct plot lines. What’s that saying about the kitchen sink? Personally, I could have done with a little less.
At the end of the day, the story is less about demonic possession and more about a cast of characters dealing with their own “inner demons.” Truthfully, that side of it is way more intriguing. Going into the first episode, it’s hard to see how they can sustain an ongoing series. Earlier this year, Outcast, another exorcism television show, appeared on the map, and the problem I had with that is the lack of sustainability. The constant revolving door of exorcisms became stale after, well, one. The 1973 Exorcism is iconic and I don’t think there has been something comparable since. However, I don’t want to watch it every single week in primetime.
What The Exorcist television series seems to be doing differently is focusing on the characters surrounding this possible possession. Which is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a network television drama. Did I love it? Not really. But I would say it is worth giving the first couple of episodes a shot. The key will be for the show to slow down the pace and give viewers something to sink their teeth into, and hopefully up the horror a little. Right now it feels a little like a popcorn version of a horror television show, but it might have the potential to live up to the legacy.