Newsnight Review discussed ITV1's new drama, The Second Coming, staring Christopher Ecclestone.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review)
It was like an awful shaggy dog story
that vaguely keeps you going because
of the third testament, what is
going to happen at the end? The
ending is completely banal, like
you get in a fifth form essay. It was
pathetically boring, like the Night
of the Living Dead, a science
fiction thing, with incredibly
pompous overtones, mock
theological. Christopher Eccleston
is too dour to stick with for such a
long time. It was incredibly well
done, especially the celebrity
inserts, I was pleased to see Germaine
Greer employed as one of the
celebrities, it was very well done
but it was utter rubbish.
I totally disagree, I think it was a
great piece of TV. I could not
believe they pulled it off, because
I thought it would be ridiculous, and
even with Christopher Eccleston,
who I have not seen in anything bad,
but I was not sure he could get away
with it. It has some fantastic moments
in it. I was laughing
out loud on many occasions, but it
was disturbing. There are cheesy bits,
when they have swarm of locust sound
effects when the devil figures appear,
which is a bit silly, but on the whole it
works. There is a great line when he
is delivering his peroration on the day
of judgement, and it is being delivered
across the world, the BBC take it off
because he swears.
There is a
fantastic central joke, which is that
Christ comes back and chooses
Manchester City ground, rather than
Manchester United, and you imagine
the rage of Alex Ferguson at having
failed to get the signing.
It is brilliant. The brilliant performance
is not Eccleston but Lesley Sharp,
and it becomes her vehicle. She plays
his girl friend and she is the one
who solves the riddle of the third
testament and she is the deus ex
macina of the resolution of the entire
Chris Eccleston: what about his performance?
He was a bit staring eyed too much
of the time.
He was great when he was normal.
It is a huge challenge to bring off
the idea of what it would be like to
be a video shop assistant who
suddenly decides he's God.
He is never God-like, he is always
a video shop assistant.
I think this is
great documentary drama. It pulls
off what the project did not pull
off, partly because it is filmed so
brilliantly. The use of video and
surveillance cameras and the use of
playback is fantastic.