In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, CBS In the UK: Not yet acquired
Ever since The Exorcist and The Omen, there’s been a tried and trusted format for ‘sceptical investigations of demonic evil’. There’s a possession. Scientific sceptics turn up and throw cold water over the idea of possession. Various incidents occur that show them to be complete idiots. Everyone becomes Catholic.
TV and film since then have done little to change that format, particularly since audience’s are quite inclined to want to believe that kind of thing anyway. Plus it’s a lot harder to scare the crap out of people with tales of dripping taps and gas-emitting rocks inducing hallucinations.
All the same, after a while, it gets a bit dull. So kudos to the refreshingly entitled Evil for giving us a supernatural investigation series that manages to be scary as well as funny, and to more or less side with science against religion – all while pointing its finger at the true evil in this world: people, particularly people on 4Chan.
Created by CBS premier league team Robert and Michelle King (BrainDead, The Good Wife, The Good Fight), Evil sees Katja Herbers (Manhattan, Westworld) playing a forensic psychologist who usually testifies on behalf of the local district attorney. When she investigates one man claimed to be demonically possessed, has a suspicion he might be and so refuses to testify that he’s insane, the DA dumps her.
A single mum strapped for cash after a divorce and now jobless, she’s only too happy to take up sexy would-be priest Mike Coulter (The Good Wife, Marvel’s Luke Cage)’s offer of a job investigating such cases on behalf of the Catholic Church. There’s a backlog of about 500,000 complaints, you see, and they don’t need a believer to help winnow that pile down – they need someone who can spot the difference between a real possession and fakers, the deluded et al.
Together with technical expert Aasif Mandvi (TheDaily Show), Coulter and Herbers set out to separate the real from the unreal. Something Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest, The Name of the Rose) doesn’t want to happen.
Guys, I think private detective shows are coming back into fashion. They’d been left in the land of re-runs for a long time, with the occasional attempt to revive the format such as Terriers struggling to find an audience.
But then CBS resurrected Magnum PI, which was like a breath of fresh air in a market stuffed full of police procedurals. And now, a year on, we have Stumptown, ABC’s effort.
I wonder how long it’ll be before the other networks have a go, too, because like Magnum PI,Stumptown ain’t half bad.
Stumptown is an example of another reasonably rare phenomenon – an adaptation of a graphic novel that isn’t about superheroes or the supernatural. Instead, it takes Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman, Queen & Country)’s Stumptown characters and fleshes them out into a woke combination of comedy and drama.
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Avengers Assemble, Captain America: Winter Soldier) plays Dex Parios, a former marine with PTSD who now spends most of her time drinking her invalidity benefit and gambling in the local Portland reservation’s casino. She also has a younger brother with Down Syndrome whom she cares for.
When she loses big time again at the casino, its owner – and Dex’s almost mother-in-law – Sue Lynn Blackbird (Tantoo Cardinal) offers to clear her debt in exchange for Dex using her Marine hunting powers to locate her missing granddaughter.
Naturally, it’s not quite as simple as all that, leading Dex to come into conflict – and something a bit more pleasant – with the local police (Almost Human’s Michael Ealy).