Sunday, 16 November 2008

I'm Confused (So No Change There Then)

At the risk of sounding like a doofus, didn’t Apparitions seem, well, you know, a little bit complicated?

Perhaps it might help if I tried to summarise what the devil (see what I did there?) was going on:

A young sufferer of leprosy, Vimal, prays to an image of Mother Theresa at the same time as the little saintly nun shuffles off this mortal coil. And whaddya know, hallelujah, he's cured! At exactly the same time in London, Liam and his wife conceive their daughter, Donna, who, ten years later, seeks out the exorcist Father Jacob (Martin Shaw). Liam is nuts, a fervent atheist who just happens to be possessed. In turn, Liam believes his daughter is also ‘possessed’, but by the spirit of Mother Theresa, which makes Liam froth at the mouth a bit. Meanwhile, Vimal has now ended up in the same seminary as Father Jacob, where he is taunted by a homeless man, who informs him that it wasn’t Mother Theresa who cured him of his leprosy – it was Satan. Cripes! Vimal is eventually relieved of his skin in a sex sauna after helping Jacob with his exorcism of Liam.

Got that? Good. ‘Cos I didn’t.

It’s not as if the basic premise is difficult to understand. It’s just that the two main narrative threads – Jacob’s run-ins with Liam and Vimal desperately trying to hang on to his Devil-donated skin – didn’t really seem to be related. In fact it was like watching two distant cousins in blindfolds blundering about and occasionally smacking into each other. It didn’t help that Apparitions started with Vimal’s story, which was little more than a sub-plot. Still, it gave an excuse for a truly gruesome skinning at the episode’s conclusion.

I can appreciate that many narratives might sound daft when reduced to a summary, but Apparitions truly is completely bonkers. Is it frightening? Not really. And that’s mostly because I found it too complicated, due to the fact that there was too much flippin’ plot. If you’re going to saturate a 60 minute drama with two significant narrative strands, it would be handy if they actually ran into each other every now and again.

Or maybe I’m just a doofus, who knows?


Paul Campbell said...

Definitely a doofus!

Actually, I thought it was pretty good. Maybe even excellent.

You can manage more than one narrative at time, can't you?

And, they inter-related a bit more than your summary suggested. But, I suspect that this is what we're going to get as the series runs on - mulitple threads overlapping between episodes, bubbling up towards a splendiferous climax.


Adrian Reynolds said...

I'll vote against you being a doofus. There was a lot of information to capture to Get It, and it could have been more straightforwardly laid out. Still, I found it a compelling show, and on the bright side let's hear it for programme makers giving us telly that stretches our heads.

Chip Smith said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Paul! ;-) I think it was the chain of Mother Theresa co-incidences that confused me, as I was looking for linkages that tied things together a little more. But, as you say, as the series progresses, we might see some of these overlapping narratives begin to make sense. That said, I've just finished re-watching the first season of The Wire - plenty of interlocked narratives there, and nothing at all confusing about them. What's more, it made a lot more sense than Apparitions! (hark at me, arguing with Mister Eastenders! I'll quit now whilst I'm behind...)

Adrian - thanks for the vote of confidence ;-) The doofus/not doofus vote is currently tied at one each, and voting has just closed (I get the distinct impression I might lose this one).

John Soanes said...

I'll abstain on the doofus vote - at least until your cheque clears.

But I thought it was good - if nothing else, the Mother Teresa elements to the plot felt a bit unusual, and I loved the fact that the chap who was possessed had the Jerry Springer Opera soundtrack.

As Paul suggests, the Vimal storyline isn't quite done yet (the trailer for next week's episode hints at this), so I'm hoping it'll bubble under a bit more - after all, them there forces o' darkness have lost a bit of leverage by killing Vimal off, so presumably they'll have to try something else...


Caroline said...

I'm with you on this one Chip. But the main problem for me was that the whole Mother Theresa thing meant I couldn't suspend my disbelief. Just one of those subjective things perhaps... I'd love to have enjoyed it more :(

Chip Smith said...

John: I'm not sure that you'll appreciate my cheque for 14p, so I'd better put your vote in the 'doofus' column ;-)

Like Caroline, the whole Mother Theresa thing threw me completely - to my mind, it's one of those dreaded coincidence things(that seemed a little more contrived than usual), but due to the way the episode was structured it sort of diverted attention away from it. I'm still not convinced by it yet...