Tag Archives: TV reviews

Going Godless All the Way

Image result for images of primeval tv show

[Note: Sorry I’m late today. I decided that if I didn’t do my bike ride early, I’d never overcome the temptation to skip it later in the day.]

Patty and I have been watching Primeval, a hit science fiction series from the BBC. We watch if for Tim Haines’ dinosaur and monster effects, really the best in the business–the closest you can come to really seeing these animals. We also enjoy the sometimes very goofy characters, and the fact that these fictional people are, with only one or two exceptions, extraordinarily chaste.

But what astounds me most about it is its deep and total atheism. Not that they speak a word against God. He has simply been written out of the show. In the whole series, there’s only one brief–and really a little bit touching–scene in a church, and that’s all it has to show for the non-material side of things. I mean, they don’t even take the Lord’s name in vain: which is a good thing, but it’s also like nobody in this show has ever heard of Him.

Ah, science fiction… See, there are these holes in space and time, called “anomalies,” and dinosaurs and other creatures pop out of them to wreak havoc in modern England, and this little crew of amateur scientists has to shoo the monsters and close the anomalies… You get the idea.

There are good-guy scientists and bad-guy scientists butting heads, and what we wind up with is a clash of two 100% atheistic world views. One (the good guys) would be “Let Nature/Evolution take its course.” The other (the bad guys) is, “We must control Evolution.” Both envision the ultimate extinction of the human race. Sorry, no salvation. Well, there can’t be any if there isn’t any God, can there?

As the series builds to its climax, the thing that drives the bad guys is the Quest for the Ultimate Free Stuff (and nobody is to make a profit! isn’t that great?). I kind of like that part of the story–you see where the untrammeled lust for Free Stuff gets you, and it ain’t good.

If your Christian faith is solid, this series will not hurt you. Won’t turn you into a pagan, a New Ager, or an atheist. At the end of my workday I’m tired and want to veg out. Dinosaurs romping across my TV screen helps me relax. I enjoy Primeval–but–but–

But a steady diet of Godless science fiction, beginning in childhood–no, that I wouldn’t recommend. Not for anyone. At best it’s a handicap to be overcome. At worst, it gets lodged in your brain and you can’t get it out, and you wind up worshiping false gods and idols.

Mark me, I don’t say the solution to this is to slap on a lot of “Christian” decals and call it “Christian science fiction.” That won’t fool anyone.

Consumption of “entertainment” is a form of self-education, and we really need to learn to be more careful with it.



An Edifying TV Series

Image result for bbc father brown mysteries

I had just about given up on the BBC as a source of edifying story-telling, when along came The Father Brown Mysteries (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2215842/). It’s got the acting, it’s got the writing, and it’s a treat for the eye. But more than that, it’s got a solid Christian message.

Mark Williams stars as Father Brown, the character originally created by G.K. Chesterton. The series is very loosely based on Chesterton’s detective stories. They’ve made Father Brown a humble parish priest in the little town of Kembleford, tucked into the lovely countryside of England in the early 1950s. The original Father Brown traveled around a lot, but this Father Brown’s mysteries come up to his doorstep.

What’s so great about a parish priest solving murders, week after week? Although he never fails to solve the mystery (and some of them are quite cleverly conceived),  Father Brown never, never loses sight of his primary mission–to bring people closer to God. Especially people who have gone astray–even murderers.

Sure, it exasperates the local police inspector always to be the caboose with this meddling priest as the locomotive of the mystery-solving train. It would bug him even more, if he ever realized that solving the mystery isn’t even Father Brown’s top priority: he remains, under all circumstances, a man of God.

The writers very wisely set their stories in the not-so-distant past so that no one can demand that Father Brown start crusading for transgender rights or any such wicked nonsense as that. Sorry, nobody did that in 1952.

Father Brown’s tools are common sense, an understanding heart, love and compassion for the sinners under his care, an unshakeable commitment to serving God, a wry sense of humor, and humility. In episode after episode, he brings these tools to bear; and watching him work is not only a pleasure, but an inspiration. Like, wow, look at that! Godliness really is the most useful thing in the world–we could use a lot more of it.

Although most of the mysteries are murder mysteries, there’s no reveling in gory details. The overall tone is gentle, understated–rather like Father Brown himself.

We don’t have TV, so we bought the episodes on youtube, Seasons 1-3, and Season 4 on amazon.com. The show has been running since 2013, and we’re very glad to know that Season 5 will soon be available.

There isn’t much television like this, so grab it while you can.

Another Youtube Treat

We’ve been watching Thriller–free of charge on youtube–a 1961 TV series hosted by Boris Karloff.

This is about as good as TV has ever been, or ever will be. It was an anthology series with a very broad format. As long as the story was a “thriller,” be it a tale of mystery, intrigue, irony, or the supernatural, it fit.

What made it so good? For one thing, most of the screenplays were adapted from short stories or novels by some of the very best writers in the field–Robert Bloch, Charlotte Armstrong, Margaret Millar, and others. Sometimes the original author also wrote the screenplay.

For another, Thriller employed the best actors they could find. The likes of Brandon DeWilde, Susan Clark, and Boris Karloff himself are not to be found anymore on American TV. And then they hired top composers like Jerry Goldsmith and Pete Rugolo to write original music for each episode. Finallly, Karloff’s introductions to each story are a treat.

With all that going for it, Thriller just had to be great.

My favorite outing, so far, has been Pigeons from Hell, starring Brandon DeWilde, based on a story by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian. This was one corker of a scary story! My wife’s favorite is Rose’s Last Summer, starring Mary Astor, from a novel by Margaret Millar, a mystery-writing genius who was married to another award-winning author, Ross MacDonald.

I don’t know about you, but when I watch this stuff, it flushes out my mind like an outboard motor, so I’m ready to take up my work again the next day. Yes, that’s escapism. And yes, my little grey cells need regular doses of it. And I’ll bet yours do, too.

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