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Channel Surfing | September 2016


The Exorcist

Premieres September 23, FOX, check local listings

William Peter Blatty’s harrowing novel The Exorcist may be a seasoned 45 years old, but its influence over our culture hasn’t weakened. From the Oscar-winning 1973 adaptation of his story, to 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, scores of film lovers have found the subject of demonic possession too enticing to pass up.

And now network television is dipping its toes into those dark waters.

FOX’s The Exorcist—not based on Blatty’s novel, but influenced by it—juggles three stories at once: Geena Davis is a Chicago careerist who suspects her family and home are being invaded by dark forces. Alfonso Herrera plays the young Father Tomas Ortego, Davis’ parish priest, who is drawn into the world of demonic possession. And the towering Ben Daniels portrays Father Marcus Lang, an exorcist haunted by demons of his own.

Sensitive viewers may find the subject matter hard to swallow—and it isn’t suitable for young channel surfers. But what gives this freshman series its lift is that it shows how God’s grace, seemingly elusive at times, casts light in even the darkest corners. Much like Blatty’s tale, this small-screen version works best as an examination of good overcoming evil. Powerfully acted with genuine thrills, The Exorcist is devilish fun.



Premieres September 22, FOX, check local listings

An interesting idea hampered by tepid writing and needless sentimentality, FOX’s new series Pitch centers on Ginny Baker, a talented athlete who becomes the first female pitcher drafted by Major League Baseball.

Ginny, whose loving but overbearing father forced a glove into her hand before she was old enough to say no, struggles to live and perform under the national scrutiny. Largely unsupported by her misogynistic teammates, Ginny is a hero to some and a pariah to others.

Kylie Bunbury, as Ginny, has the chops to carry the series—and she’s amply supported by a cast of strong players—especially Ali Larter as her nononsense agent, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as the team’s catcher and captain. But even this company of actors struggles to elevate a weak script that insufficiently explores Ginny’s internal struggles. And this is a missed opportunity for viewers: what we’re left with is a female Jackie Robinson with no real flavor.

Pitch does have its moments, though. The series honestly (and perhaps accurately) exposes the tactless and often scary interior world of the boys’ locker room, which Ginny bravely navigates. But the struggle pays off when, in the pilot episode’s strongest moment, Ginny locks eyes with a young, adoring girl in the stands holding a sign that reads, “I’m Next.”