Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Two brilliant things about that latest and last episode of Rev, which was watched late by me:
- the ending,
- the portrayal of what it is to be a fed up vicar, flopped on the sofa watching rubbish TV with beer in hand ('I feel like a remnant of an illusion that people used to believe in' - great line).

Could relate to both of those things.

What I really got frustrated with, however, was the continued lack of authenticity in the portrayal of the vocation, summed up when Smallbone says 'I'm tired of having to tell people what they want to hear all the time'. Throughout the series he seemed to have no moral centre, no anchor - a representation of what the liberal elites think about faith. Gah!

I've enjoyed the programme - and I'd watch another series if they made one - but I still long for a portrayal of a priest that isn't filtered through a secular mindset.


  1. Have you seen the film "Into temptation"? IN spite of tacky title I think that is one of the better priest portrayals I've seen.

  2. The last episode hasn't appeared on the internet yet, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the series. There are so many parallels to my parish.

    I hope they do a second series (with maybe some stronger writing.)

  3. Rev. has been brilliant - managing to cover the heights and depths of ministry in its humour, quirkiness and sadness.

    I have written about it from my perspective as a vicar a few times, because it provides so much to think about! Here's my reflections on its final episode...

  4. I just watched the last episode and agree with you Sam. I liked when his wife said 'just stop being a Vicar for one day', to which he replied 'I can't, its a calling.' I thought they were onto something there, but then lost it later. You're right, no sense of a moral centre, or better still, a worship centre...

  5. I think you're being overly harsh. Smallbone's 'I'm tired of having to tell people what they want to hear all the time' is something that I would guess most of us think at some stage in our ministry. Moments like those have been the basis for much of the comedy in the series and, in my experience at least, seem an authentic reflection on an aspect of being in ministry.

    In the context of the story told in the final episode, that comment was then deliberately undercut by the writers in the denouement to the episode where he says exactly what his dying parishioner weants and needs to hear and this is restorative both for the parishioner and himself.

    Finally, in the context of the series, that statement is not an accurate description of what we see Smallbone doing and saying. Much of the comedy in the series came from those occasions when he didn't say what people wanted him to say.

    So I disagree with your contention that he seemed to have no moral centre or anchor and is a representation of what the liberal elites think about faith. I think that, while some of the storylines weren't as sharply observed as could have been the case (Episode 2 in particular), Smallbone throughout has been a nuanced character osscilating humanly between faith and doubt, integrity and failure, and that that portrayal has been the secret to the success of the series.

  6. Thanks all. I think I'm going to do another quick post because Jon's thoughts need a proper response!

  7. I agree with Jonathan Evens absolutely - too harsh. I'm not a cleric but I think to say the series had a secular mindset is really not true. I liked the way each episode made a point of showing Adam silently praying, a quiet, informal, usually conflicted prayer, which often seemed to me the trigger, though in a subtle way, for his subsequent efforts to do the right thing. It was after he prayed in the first episode that he finally decided to tell the smarmy MP he wasn't going to take his money or recommend his child to the church school. Also, I liked the way hopeless old Colin, who doesn't really "get it" and is an annoying nuisance, is so often in a subtle way allowed to be "the least of these" - the one who Adam doesn't realise is a genuine friend in the episode where he thought he'd found a new best buddy in the shape of Colin Salmon, the one who sets one small thing right by going and getting the stolen vestments back in the episode with the flashy media priest played by Hugh Bonneville. The Bonneville character, on paper a "success", stole from Adam (nicking his idea for a radio slot): Colin, a "failure", did the opposite, and got his face bruised in the process, but he didn't really care because he loves Adam and respects him as the vicar. Adam didn't even really seem to notice. It was a clever embodiment of the teaching that it's not those who pray loudest in public who necessarily count in the eyes of God.

    That's my two cents' worth, anyway.

  8. Cathy, you make a really good point.


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