This is my way of saying that Evil is decent and, by whatever measuring stick I'm using on this fall's broadcast premieres, probably better than decent. It's a show with some tonal ambition, blending scares and laughs and occasional philosophical and spiritual investigation.
Evil (TV series) - Wikipedia
It's a show with a limited amount of structural ambition, tackling different cases of the week and layering in just a bit of mythology. It's a show with a great cast and a steady stream of reliable guest stars. And after seeing four episodes, I'm confident that the thing it's trying to do is repeatable, somewhat consistent and, in bits and pieces, hints at something better.
So there's that standard I'm holding it to. Kristen Bouchard, a former mountain climber and current forensic psychologist now mostly working on behalf of the D. Kristen's latest case proves more complicated when the perp's wife claims that he killed seven people under the influence of demonic possession, a charge that attracts priest-in-training David Acosta Mike Colter and professional skeptic Ben Aasif Mandvi to investigate on behalf of the Catholic Church. Soon, Kristen's faith is being challenged, her confidence in scientific certitude is being shaken and her worldview upset.
Oh, and there's a new figure moving in on Kristen's diagnostic terrain and he Michael Emerson's Leland Townsend just might be an agent of chaos or evil himself. On the surface, Evil settles into a very familiar framework.
Each week involves an investigation into a different potential possession or miracle, with David as the man of faith looking for higher or lower faith-based explanations and Ben and Kristen scurrying on behalf of science and rationality. Nothing here is too challenging or iconoclastic.
CBS has a core audience to maintain. There's just enough uncertainty, of course, to try to woo the occasional curious X-Files fan. On some level these first four episodes are a little limited.
If the Catholic Church has , open investigations of this sort, I suppose it stands to reason there would be enough in New York City to keep these three busy without expanding their geographical boundaries much, though maybe it limits the topical variety a little. The first episode is a good mix of disturbing and truly funny, especially when Kristen begins being visited by a demon named George.
There's some humor in a later episode featuring the wonderful John Glover as a malevolent Broadway producer, but some repetitiveness had begun to sink in before the fourth episode returned the show to actual scary footing.
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A church in my old Hamburg neighborhood has a plaque near its entrance begging forgiveness for its silence and inaction during the Third Reich; a sign near the KaDeWe department store in Berlin provides a list of a dozen concentration camps. It implies that this is a process, and unfinishable, rather than a task at which one might succeed.
Yet it took many years for that work to begin in earnest. Prosperity helped, and so did the student movements of the s, with their demand to know exactly what had happened. New war-crimes trials reached below the top levels of the Nazi command, and concentration camp guards went into the dock; even when those trials resulted in acquittals, they revealed the enormity of what had been done. There were popular TV series on the subject, including the American-made Holocaust , which ran in Germany in , and beginning in an exhibition on the wartime atrocities committed not by the SS but by the Wehrmacht, the regular German army, traveled to thirty-three German and Austrian cities.
It helped, moreover, that there was a state ban on the display of Nazi regalia, and that even in a divided country the problems of memory were not restricted to a single region. Nor was there any German equivalent of the many once-respected American historians who wrote on behalf of the Confederate cause. Nevertheless, the mood in West Germany in the first decades after the war was closer to that of the Landshut memorial than one likes to remember.
Denazification was a hasty and often lenient process; it proved almost as easy for a party member to get cleared as it had been for a Confederate officer to regain the right to vote. Rebel generals became governors, and in Germany former Nazis clogged the upper ranks of the professions, the judiciary included. Many people argued that those soldiers who died defending their Heimat deserved to be remembered as patriots and heroes; and as for the camps, they said, how could ordinary Germans have possibly known about them?
What would an American Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung look like? Call them happy endings. Germans have been given no choice, and not only by the international community. Neiman poses questions, but rather than answering them she educates her readers by thinking through their implications. Ethics has its place on the street, it can clarify what you feel, and in this book she often approaches her material as a reporter might, visiting a site, conducting an interview.
In Berlin, that meant a phone call or a walk, and was sometimes as simple as sitting down with a friend, the two of them thinking aloud with the tape recorder running. But the institute wants to change what they know, and its offices at the state university in Oxford provided her with a base for her travels.
Some of her encounters are tense. These conversations seem less important for their conclusions than for the process they dramatize. Olmsted later rewrote those letters into a book called The Cotton Kingdom , and though he began with no firm convictions about slavery, he finished as a firm abolitionist. Most of its subjects wear Rebel uniforms, though none is as scary as the man Neiman met in Holly Springs, and while its pages are fully alive to absurdity, they are marked by generosity too.
Spying on the South has many of the same strengths, but reading it is a melancholy experience: Horwitz died in May of cardiac arrest, at sixty, just after its publication. As a traveler, Horwitz is ready to talk and listen to anyone, and to laugh with them too. Horwitz enjoys it all, and then feels guilty about it. I enjoyed every diverting page of Spying on the South , but we need something more now. When his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on leaving his body unretouched, his casket open, what everyone remembered was the face.
If you really need to see it, you can find it on the web.
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If you have seen it already, you never want to see it again. Neiman herself spent some weeks in Sumner, talking about the case to everyone she could. Three different counties in the Delta now have a part in the story—they claim a part because there have been government dollars available for the business of commemoration. The courthouse in Sumner has been restored with those dollars, museums founded, roadside markers put in place. And for some in the white world too, in ways that make one profoundly uneasy.
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It has become a stop on the Mississippi Freedom Trail, but the building is now owned by the descendants of a juror who voted for acquittal, and they have allowed it to fall into ruin, as if trying to expunge or ignore its importance. The same family also owns a neighboring gas station, however, and happily accepted a grant that allowed them to restore it as a piece of mid-twentieth-century Americana; people following the Freedom Trail need somewhere to stop.
She meets a local macher who thought it acceptable, half a century later, for his white community to express regret over the murder but not to apologize for it.
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