The Second Coming

Starring: Christopher Eccleston & Lesley Sharp
Carlton Visual Entertainment
RRP: £12.99

Certificate: 15

After disappearing for 40 days, Steve Baxter is found on moorland in the North of England, incoherent and babbling that he is the Son of God. Baxter soon finds that not everyone is eager to believe that he is the Second Coming - he realises he will have to stage a major event to make people sit up and notice him. In front of a football stadium of believers, Baxter announces that humankind must write it's own Third Testament or face the Day of Judgement in the next five days. Fuelled by the media-circus fear, cynicism and violence erupt...

The Second Coming is released a mere seven days (possible biblical reference there) after the final episode aired on terrestrial television. Set in Manchester, Christopher Eccleston is perfect as the Son of God, frustrated by the inability of his mortal frame to understand his calling instantaneously - instead he sees the light a little at a time.

Setting up Manchester as the new Mecca is inspired and this is one of many examples of how the production progresses tongue in cheek - never taking itself too seriously and never sliding into Life of Brian blasphemy. There is very little here to cause outrage in the religious community. One great scene sees Baxter addressing the World, asking for mankind to write a Third Testament, to which he says: "Don't argue. All you Christians out there don't go around saying you were right and everyone else was wrong."

The production seems to rely a little too much on 360-degree camera panning. Stylistically it works well, especially when panning around Baxter, implying that the World revolves around him. But sadly the effect is over used - every time time someone has the power over everyone else in the scene this visual technique is used - diminishing its impact.

There are numerous biblical reference and links back to the accounts of the life of Jesus. The first, and most obvious reference, is the lost in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. Then there is the roles that Judith takes on - she seems to take on the personalities of several of the original disciples including doubting Thomas and Judas. And toward the climax of the series there is The Last Supper scene.

The extras on this DVD are impressive. Firstly there is a commentary by writer Russell Davies and director Adrian Shergold. Over 30 minutes of deleted scenes, which include footage of Baxter and his mother, which is interesting. The end programme had these scenes cut and establish that his mother had died years before.

One slight problem I had with the conclusion was that the Devil (and his vessel) should have been destroyed. Yet, his vessel still walks the Earth. Or could it be that Judith was the antichrist and that she won the final battle - Armageddon?

A fantastic production that illustrates why the UK is still at the forefront when it comes to producing good, solid drama.

Darren Rea


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