It would be awfully unfair if the world ended before the conclusion of You, Me and the Apocalypse (Sky 1, Wednesdays 8pm). It’s both funny and profound. The plot is simple: a comet is hurtling towards the Earth that will wipe out all life in a couple of weeks. A band of apparently unrelated and unimportant characters coalesce – from a prison inmate to a foul-mouthed priest.
The priest is played by Rob Lowe, which is appropriate because the man’s a walking miracle. The older he gets, the better he looks. Only his acting has stayed the same: he’s always the preppy heartthrob.
In this show Lowe is dreadfully miscast. A chain-smoking cleric whose job is to provide Devil’s advocate evidence against canonisations would have been better played by Milo O’Shea or Walter Matthau. Not the prom king of 1986.
Never mind, because everyone else is on top form. Pauline Quirke shines as a working-class mum; Mathew Baynton does a sterling job of portraying two very different twin brothers.
But top billing really ought to belong to Jenna Fischer as a sweet librarian imprisoned for a hi-tech crime she quite obviously didn’t commit, and Megan Mullally as the neo-Nazi prison hag who offers her “protection”.
Mullally is one of those rare, gifted comedy actresses who only has to appear on screen to get a laugh. It helps that she has the best lines. When she advises Fischer’s character that she needs to put on a front to survive, Fischer asks if that means she’s not really a neo-Nazi. “Of course I’m a neo-Nazi,” Mullally replies. Pointing at the swastika tattooed on her forehead, she adds: “I’m just not dumb enough to think this is a good look.”
There’s a lot of heart in this show and even a little theology. It’s clever to assign to the priest the role of its chief sceptic. Rob Lowe’s character is the voice of doubt because that’s what the Church has elected him to be – the martyrdom of the cynic.
I expect to see much mockery of religion and the Vatican: that’s par for the course nowadays. But it’s a pleasure to see it done so intelligently.
This article first appeared in the Catholic Herald magazine (16/10/15)
Take up our special subscription offer – 12 issues currently available for just £12!