There’s a reason “The Exorcist” was a two-hour movie in 1973 instead of a TV show.
In a movie you get in, get things done, and get out. A TV show has to carry characters on and on, take them places and keep expanding.
It’s very hard to see how Fox’s new TV remake of “The Exorcist” can keep expanding. Within the first episode you’ve seen all the familiar marks of an exorcism movie — tortured priests, appalled and innocent family, children turned crusty and bizarre — and they already seem worn. A whole season of this?
Apparently. Or not.
In the role of brooding elder exorcist we have Ben Daniels (Robin Wright’s lover in “House of Cards”). As the show opens, he’s trying to get the devil out of a small boy in some third world hovel, and not doing so well.
But wait! This is America and we don’t care about third world hovels. So we’re whisked back to more moneyed ground where a concerned mother (Geena Davis!) is worried about her sulking college-age daughter (Brianne Howey). If we start performing exorcisms on all sulking college-age daughters, the Vatican’s going to run out of holy water fast, but mom’s also hearing weird voices in the wall.
Who you gonna call? Hint: Not “Ghostbusters.” Instead, Mom turns to her local, hunky parish priest (Alfonso Herrera) for help. He’s a little skeptical, but agrees to check things out. What he finds is what anybody finds in exorcism movies — inverted walking, head shaking, weird tongues, everything but pea soup (maybe they’re saving that for latter episodes).
It won’t help. The young skeptical priest and older exorcist priest will team up to do battle with the devil while Davis looks on wide-eyed, apparently, and this will be dragged out on a weekly basis. Heaven help us.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.