Rev Season Three
Praise be, Tom Hollander's struggling cleric returns to our screens with that prized thing for a modern sitcom - a third series. Truth is that so few comedy series make it through season one on these shores with our desire for short 6 or 8 episode runs and so little time to build an audience and impress, that few get to season two and barely any get to season three. Factor in how crap most sitcoms are, and you answer the question why, but cautious commissioning and a lack of foresight play a big role in this phenomenon as well.
Rev's pedigree though should no longer be doubted. All episodes have been directed by Peter "Full Monty" Cattaneo, only a couple of episodes have not been written by James Wood, and the show has attracted guest stars like Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Bonneville and even Christine Bleakley and Jonathan Dimbleby. The central cast includes the ubiquitously brilliant Olivia Colman, the man who found Cantona, and the excellent Hollander himself. This comedy is a thoroughbred.
Season Three sees the Smallbone household being added to with a young daughter, delivered rather traumatically by Archdeacon Robert in a taxi. A new Dean is also around and she has her eyes on the huge hole in the finances, and this forces Adam into ecumenical work with the local Imam, deliciously played by Kayvan Novak. There's a return for Hugh Bonneville's sickeningly media savvy priest and a very timely episode on gay marriage. Now most series start to go downhill fast when children are added but Rev has retained it's integrity by staying focused on Hollander's struggle to succeed. You don't have to be religious to enjoy the show because the central character is darn human, rather than universally holy or proper. The show has a certain tempo and a number of key timed elements (the knock on the door, the pillow talk, the rushed taxi conversations) and these continue to delight and shape the viewer's experience.
Still, what really works is the refusal to get too silly or surreal and to ground the comedy in the real world. The introduction of Novak's Imam is a delight and thank whatever deity that we finally get an interesting comic portrayal of a Muslim leader along with some positive understanding of Islam. The gay wedding episode is beautifully done with characters staying true to their brief but the message made strongly anyway.
Rev goes from strength to strength and you should catch this new series from the 24th March on BBC Two and can catch up with seasons 1 and 2 on iTunes.