Ooh, the tricky second episode of the second series. I love Rev. I love everyone in it. I love the pace and the feel of it. I love Tom Hollander – I’ve made that very clear – but I’d be equally happy to settle down with Miles Jupp or Olivia Coleman, were they willing. So it pains me to say that I thought this episode was contrived. An implausibly bright young curate was brought in to assist Adam, and he went from being pleased to uncharacteristically rude and jealous within the space of a couple of scenes. It felt odd to see such clunkiness in Rev., which usually manages that rare thing in telly: ambiguity and naturalness. The curate, played by Amanda Hale (who did well with an underwritten part), was just a cipher: a character too perfect to be real. From the get-go it was clear she was only going to be in the show for one episode as she wasn’t given enough substance to keep a decent plot going. Her wafer-thin persona, and the about-faces of Adam (from keen to conflicted), and Nigel (from suspicious to fanboy), were all sitcom-by-numbers. Which is a crying shame; we like Rev. cause it’s not like that.
Even worse was the excruciating Ecstasy storyline (or as it presumably said in the script, ‘Enter Colin, carrying the B-plot’). This seemed bizarrely out-of-date. Haven’t we done to death the device of someone accidentally taking E and then being all loved-up? It felt very tired to me, though I could completely believe that Colin would be a big MDMA fan. In fact I must just stop carping for a moment to commend Steve Evets, as he’s taken what could be – and initially was – a stereotyped character, and turned him into something nuanced and touching. Which is more than can be said for Tom’s drugged-up performance. Ham Central is the phrase which, despite being new, nonetheless springs to mind. When he joined in the children’s performance as a leper I cringed with embarrassment, and not in a good The Office way. It was like something out of Terry & June.
It says a lot for the warmth generated by this programme that it was still watchable, and there was, thank you Lord, a properly good bit right at the end: a small still voice of calm after the sturm und drang of Adam in the grip of a poorly-written conflict. When Colin was baptised in a simple ceremony at the font, just Adam and Alex present, and he raised his head with a beatific smile to reveal he was wearing a smart shirt and tie, it was lovely. Please, I prayed, please don’t make him say anything silly or glib. This is a perfect little Rev. moment so please God, don’t let them mess it up. And they didn’t. They let it be what it was, and it brought a tear to my atheist Jew eye. Clearly someone up there (at the BBC Control Centre of course, what did you think I meant?) heard me.
Posted by Qwerty