This post ostensibly is about UK police dramas, but when you get down to it, the issue of how to treat religion on TV shows is universal. So:
by Neil McNicholas
IF you watch any British police drama, when the investigating officers show up at someone’s house or place of work to question them about the crime that has been committed, almost without exception the person doesn’t even have the courtesy to sit down and talk to them.
Invariably, they continue with whatever they were doing and often cut short the conversation, saying they have to be somewhere else and off they go – which is very bad-mannered. Does this reflect the experience of the police? If it doesn’t then writers are doing the police no favours by portraying that as reality and perhaps encouraging people to be disrespectful towards their local constabulary.
Writers seem to do the same with religion and their portrayal of the clergy.
The worst offenders seem to be the writers of Lewis and Midsomer Murders, though the problem isn’t limited to those series only. They seem to have an abiding fascination with religious cults. There’s always some secretive sect, wearing quasi-monastic robes, doing mysterious things in the woods in the dead of night, often with more than a hint of the satanic. Are the writers seriously suggesting that this is what the residents of our rural idylls typically get up to at the weekend?
At other times the plots involve identifiable denominations – usually Church of England or Roman Catholic.
Vicars are always “wet” individuals, a cross between Frank Williams’ character in Dad’s Army and Derek Nimmo’s in All Gas and Gaiters. Why do they so consistently portray vicars as excessively pious ditherers that you wouldn’t entrust with running a tea party much less a church and a parish?
Surely, in real life, that can’t be as typical as amongst the dreamy spires ofLewis or the country lanes of Midsomer? And because it makes for a good story, ?they are often also portrayed ?as, at best, mentally unstable ?or, at worst, outright psychopaths – a condition blatantly obvious to the viewer but not, so it would seem, to their congregations or the church authorities.
Catholic priests in these stories will be shown celebrating Mass in a liturgical style or in vestments that went out with the Ark. Do they not have priest consultants to advise them?…