Let Us Now Praise Father Jack

In all of the commentary about the various political interpretations of ABC’s reimagining of the classic sci-fi allegory V, I’ve yet to read any appreciation for the best of its fully realized and original characters: Father Jack Landry.

We’ve all been accustomed for years to Christians being derided in the media, but Father Jack is a huge step away from all of that: a sincere, humane man of faith whose spiritually sensitive nature is undeniable.  He’s not a hypocrite, he’s not a bigot, and he’s (gasp!) not a pedophile.  Mainstream network television has now given us an honest-to-goodness hero priest. 

Father Jack has a background in the military and is comfortable fighting when he needs to (the last episode had him practicing on a punching bag, showing it who’s boss with experienced skill), but instead of abusing this aspect of the character to make him more palatable to the usual pieties (i.e., “Sure, he’s a priest, but look!  He’s also a kung-fu psycho who wears shades, chain smokes, and curses like a sailor!  He probably got dishonorably discharged after stopping some rednecks from killing peaceful natives”–all these clichés are blessedly avoided), they blend to make him even more non-traditional: now he’s a priest and a soldier–the two things Hollywood hates the most!

Though physically powerful, handsome, and comfortable everywhere, Father Jack is quiet to the point of being reserved.  He reacts with patience, only getting worked up when innocent people are in danger.  This week’s episode saw him in a furious storm of self doubt, unable to bear the idea that his revolutionary tactics (call it grass roots activism, campaigning for social justice, revolting against a corrupt establishment, or what have you) might have killed any bystanders.  His pacifism is no rote show: it comes across as a genuine commitment to the value of human life above all other priorities (another major shift in tone for normal TV!). 

We’ve only seen him with his parishioners a few times, but they’re clearly always on his mind, and when he does meet with people, he actually discusses God and faith, not just bland platitudes.  He’s  a real priest!  (Can you sense my shocked excitement?)  This is a great character.

Checking my email just now, I saw a news story saying that V is one of the shows that may be on the chopping block for the Fall.  I hope not: it’s consistently one of the most suspenseful, clever, and relevant shows on television, and has a surprisingly decent hero to boot in Father Jack, the best clergy character I can remember since Father Mulcahy in the glory days of M*A*S*H.

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Idea For “V”

The massacre at Fort Hood only two days after the premiere of the new science fiction series V, about hostile plotters hiding in our midst, has me thinking about how current events might further factor into the show’s plot.  Specifically, I’m inspired by the leftists in our society who misdirect our attention from the real problems here–violent anti-Americans operating in the open because we’re too politically correct to combat them–to their weird pet projects of multiculturalism and diversity.

The strangest and most revolting example of this must be General George Casey’s assertion that a loss of diversity in the military as a result of this shooting would a greater tragedy than the shooting itself.  This kind of self-flagellating defeatism, of course, plays right into the hands of terrorists.

So here’s my idea for the show: as rebels try to expose the alien invaders for the hungry reptiles they are, the “Visitors” should respond by smearing their critics, slamming them for their lack of open-minded compassion.  Bloggers or talk radio hosts who ask tough questions about the Visitors’ motives should be met with press conferences by aggrieved, indignant aliens who look sternly into the camera and ask, “Why are you so afraid of things that are different or that you don’t understand?  Why are your hearts so full of hate?”

Two Thoughts About “V”

Yesterday afternoon I told my oldest son about the rebooted series V, and how much I enjoyed the original version as a kid.  When I explained the plot to him–aliens show up and solve all our problems, pretending to be our friends, so they can win our trust and then eat us–he said, “Hmm.  Sounds like that Twilight Zone episode, ‘To Serve Man.'”  He’s only ten.  I was so proud I could have cried. 

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After watching the show last night (truly excellent, by the way), I was struck by just how silly, impossible, and outrageous the story was, though.  I mean, c’mon, an attractive leader shows up out of nowhere, promising to magically solve our problems with little more than broad bromides about hope and peace, and everybody just goes gaga and falls into line?  Why, this leader even has a simpering media quickly trained to jump through hoops!  And I refuse to accept that this leader’s minions could be actively recruiting young people to subversively carry on their work.   

Seriously, who could ever buy into a story that crazy?  Clearly, clearly, this is some pretty far out science fiction.  Luckily, nothing like that could ever actually happen in real life.