Rev works a sitcom miracle
Posted on 03 August 2010, 6:28
Some of the best moments of watching BBC Two’s Rev the past few weeks have been the kitchen sink prayers, where we’ve eavesdropped on Rev Adam Smallbone’s calm, interior conversation with God. Walking down the high street, washing the dishes, sitting on the loo, Adam asks God for a bigger congregation, for more energy in bed with his wife Alex, for protection for Colin who’s in danger of getting a kicking, for strength to visit a lap-dancing club he’s opposing, and a hundred other everyday concerns.
But in last night’s series finale, Adam questions his whole vocation as a priest and falls into a dark crisis of faith. Lying flat out on the front pew of the empty church, his prayers become an interrogation of God: ‘Why is the graveyard strewn with litter? Why do Nazis always live till they’re 96? Why are there no more bumble bees? Why do African women get raped every day by boy soldiers going to get water for their starving village?’
And so Rev hurtles off course, out of the traditional territory of the sitcom, leaving behind the sunny uplands of Dibley, and dives into an ugly scene where his wife marches him, drunk and disorderly, out of a vicars and tarts party, and they both angrily tell each other to go forth and multiply. There wasn’t a laugh in sight in the stunning final 10 minutes of the show, and yet it more than held together to give what I think was the best piece of religious television I’ve seen in years.
Adam regains his vocation not in an easy comic plot shift, but in a tough moment under pressure from an unsympathetic policeman. Unexpectedly, he recalls the words of Isaiah chapter 6 – ‘Here I am, send me’ – which were read at his ordination, and then prays at the bedside of a dying woman; scenes which provided an inspiring and spine-tingling sequence of television, for me at least. That Rev dared to attempt this sitcom miracle, and that it worked, shows how far the show has carried its growing audience, and how it has made us care for and believe in Adam and his flawed and faithful calling.
The deathbed scene (quick sober-up and back to business) was the best part of the whole series. What a way to end!
Chorister, Wed 4 Aug, 15:22
Still have to catch up on the last three episodes (fingers crossed the H drive has done its job!) but I thought Rev was honest and refreshing, not to say hilarious at times. About time Christianity was portrayed on telly like this!
Sue Barrow, Tue 3 Aug, 22:27
I enjoyed Colin’s assessment of Dawkins as well! : - ) )
Johnny Laird, Tue 3 Aug, 21:39
Johnny Laird, Tue 3 Aug, 18:06
I agree Simon – I have never seen Christianity portrayed as honestly as this before – let alone vocation.
And I am still chuckling over the critique of Richard Dawkins in the first episode.
Melvyn Kelly, Tue 3 Aug, 18:03
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