Three September TV Shows That Plumb Religion and Spirituality

Ron Cephas Jones as William, left, and Sterling K. Brown as Randall in "This Is Us" on NBC. (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
Ron Cephas Jones as William, left, and Sterling K. Brown as Randall in “This Is Us” on NBC. (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Here’s your guide to three hot September shows that plumb religion and spirituality:

‘The Exorcist,’ Fox, premieres Sept. 23

The premise in about 100 words:

Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is pretty sure her home is possessed, so she requests help from her priest, the Rev. Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera). At first, Ortega isn’t so quick to believe Angela, but he agrees to come over and have dinner with her family. In preparation, Ortega does some research into demonic possession, and discovers Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels), a priest and experienced exorcist. Well, it would seem that God — or Satan? — works in mysterious ways: Ortega recognizes Keane from nightmares that have been haunting him.

Religious themes:

TV shows that explore exorcism are often disappointing because they don’t take Roman Catholicism seriously. These writers, though, have done some homework and seem to want to portray religion — and its supernatural advocates and enemies — in a way that invites viewers to thoughtfully engage. The theology presented here won’t please everyone, particularly the shock moments, like when a demon kills its human host. But the writers know the best way to explore good and evil is to do so in the lives of its characters. Each character on the show is on a faith journey. This is particularly true of the priests, both of whom belong to the literary tradition of ethically complicated religious leaders.

How many episodes until it gets good?

The first episode starts out strong, then fluctuates between highs and lows, before culminating in a strong, mind-bending final scene that both sets the tone for the rest of the season and compels you to keep watching.

Worth your time?

That depends on whether you like being scared. While not as gory (or depraved) as its film namesake, “The Exorcist” definitely pushes the limits of the network suspense genre. Some of that fear is mitigated by cheesy special effects, such as the cheap computer-generated image of a crow crashing into a window. But there are still plenty of scary moments that don’t require a special FX team: long shots of a priest walking through his church’s pitch-dark basement, close-ups of demon-possessed children. Upshot: Horror fans craving a new TV series won’t be too disappointed. Oh, and another thing: Father Ortega is the hottest priest you will ever see, so that’s a bonus!

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SOURCE: Religion News Service

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