Vatican Miracle Examiner
Fathers Roberto Nicholas and Joseph Ko Hiraga are assigned by the Vatican to determine the validity of purported miracles.
The Shroud of Turin has been purported to be the burial cloth of Jesus, even though there was a letter from the time of its first recorded appearance (in the 14th Century) saying it was a "painting". Carbon-14 dating firmly supports the cloth's manufacture as around the same time as its first appearance- it's 14th Century, NOT 1st. The Catholic Church has never officially endorsed it as a holy relic, though. So maybe the Church DOES have Miracle Examiners, after all. (This show's concept does naturally make one wonder, how do you validate a miracle? Sure, you could eliminate any natural cause you could THINK of, but what about natural causes that might not occur to you? And the "natural causes" in THIS show get pretty exotic, too.)
In any case, our two Miracle Examiners have very different approaches to examining miracles. Father Nicholas follows the classical Church model of seeking answers in ancient texts. Father Hiraga (the younger of the two) is an empiricist who makes scientific investigations of the purported miracles, which I would think would be a more useful approach, though I guess I'm biased.
Structurally, the show reminded me so much of a show I reviewed a while back, Ghost Hunt, that I wondered if they were by the same author. (They're not.) Both shows feature story arcs of 3-4 episodes, with one single-episode story to break the pattern. In both shows, the phenomena of interest are really the synergistic product of several different entities, each acting in their own interests. In Ghost Hunt it was various spirits, but here it's the confluence of several human agendas. (So ARE there actual miracles in this show? I'll get there, don't worry.) This show even uses digitized photographs in its closer, just like Ghost Hunt did in its opener. (The photos in THIS show are, naturally, of Rome and the Vatican.)
But I never warmed to this show like I did to Ghost Hunt. Part of it is the very Rube Goldberg complexity of the stories; they aren't simple mysteries but complex things, with corporate conspiracies, secret cults, scam artists, cheating lovers (!), and even a recurring megalomaniacal villain thrown into the mix, so the viewer really doesn't stand a fair chance of even sorting this out, much less "solving" it, before it's all finally laid out by the Fathers. While the manifestations typically turn out to be due to "natural" causes, the show is not above inventing purely imaginary "science" to explain things. (As I've said in other reviews, I'd rather have a purely supernatural explanation than one invoking "science" contrived out of whole cloth.)
And yes, I forgave Ghost Hunt's (spiritual) complications, but there's an important difference between that show and this one: Ghost Hunt had some really charismatic leading characters (particularly Mai.) I couldn't really warm to either of our priestly leads in Miracle Examiner. The two do seem more devoted to each other than one would normally think two professionals (even in religious orders) would be, but despite the hints of a yaoi thing here (and wait until you meet Father Julia!), I was never able to feel very emotionally involved with either of them, despite the fact that their backstories become important plot points: Father Hiraga has a younger brother who's dying of cancer, while Father Nicholas' backstory is actually a key element in one of the "miracles" they're assigned to investigate. I'm not sure why I didn't like the leads more than I did. Maybe it's their lack of interesting character quirks; maybe it's their overly subdued demeanors.
The show has one episode where Father Hiraga is having a philosophical discussion about religion with one Lauren di Luca, who we're told is an amoral genius, in the prison where di Luca is being detained. (I kept wondering if he was supposed to be a prisoner of The Vatican; I thought the Vatican ITSELF hadn't kept prisoners since The Inquisition, but this is not my field of expertise.) Fr. Hiraga is trying to persuade di Luca that there is a God, and then proceeds to tell him a story. In Grampa's day, this sort of outrageous yarn would have been called a "shaggy dog" story, but for some reason Fr. Hiraga accepts this tall tale as Gospel (SORRY!), despite his normally demanding real physical evidence for such outlandish assertions. The story certainly raises a couple of interesting ethical issues. For one thing, its protagonist gets condemned for sending away evil from his doorstep, apparently on the theory that this is the same thing as wishing it on someone else. (It's clearly NOT.) On the other hand, that same protagonist later gets a Mulligan for literally playing God. It seems to me there's some moral inconsistency here, and I'm a little puzzled about what message this episode is trying to send.
I was also a little puzzled by a comment made about two books that were "written two days apart." I wouldn't normally think that someone would write a book, and then finish writing another book two days later; even books "published two days apart" wouldn't make sense, since books usually don't contain the exact DATE of publication, just the year. Maybe the subtitles are wrong here, and "years" was meant rather than "days"???
I'm also pretty sure that cocaine is NOT an hallucinogen!!!
The stories are too contrived, and the leads are just too boring. I just couldn't make either an intellectual or an emotional connection with the show. The Spirit was just not moving me here. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: There's some violent death. Rightstuf rates the Blu-Ray 17+.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Amazon Prime
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Vatican Miracle Examiner © 2017 J.C. Staff.
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