Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 5/10
Cast: Anna Maxwell Martin, David Threlfall, Sally Messham, Leila Mimmack, Will Attenborough, Doc Brown, Katie Dickie, Oengus MacNamara, Ania Marson, Nicholas Pinnock, Simon Trinder, Rachel Atkins, Paul Bentall, Siobhan Finneran, Eileen Nicholas, Vivienne Soan, David Sterne, Josie Walker, Stephen Walsh, Scott Wright, Kai Alexander, Neil Ashton, Scott Cutmore, Holly Kavanagh, Geoffrey McGivern, Stephen McKenna, Nisha Nayar, Martin Walsh, Deon Williams, Alexis Platt, Adrian Dobson.
Religion and the eternal battle between good and evil is always going to have victims, those that are used as pawns by the depravity of one and the righteous concern of the other. There will always be casualties and there will be those that seek their solace in practices that are against the natural order of things and yet despite the very real public concern into the very scale of abuse, what was captured on screen in Midwinter of the Spirit was not so much disturbing, more verging on the disturbingly average.
To really get between the teeth of the supernatural, it needs to have a guiding spirit beside it to show how the medium needs to be treated; it needs to have someone that you truly believe in battling which ever fight is required and who is vulnerable enough to make you feel the pain of truth that comes sliding their way. The trouble with having this type of genre on I.T.V., any suspicion of breaking the suspense takes firm root and can make it a chore to sit through.
As delving into the supernatural goes, Midwinter of the Spirit is to be found in that boggy, murky middle ground that could have been so much more than the final televised sum but which also and with great thanks steered clear of descending too far into the fire and brimstone of religious dogma. Being somewhat benign an experience, a couple of chills notwithstanding, didn’t do the programme harm but neither did it elevate it to a position where the natural order of slightly disturbed sleep was ever going to be troubled. Anna Maxwell Martin and David Threfall did well to keep the dialogue going and sparking some interest but in the end the various interchanges between characters became stunted, the lack of displaced faith annoyingly not made enough of and yet the historical significance not lost upon the viewer. The middle ground a comfortable comparison to the greats and the down-right wretched.
Midwinter of the Spirit may have been one of those programmes in which being spread out over three weeks was too much for its average tale to be steeped in. A story that may find a home in some quiet corner of the mind but one that is never going to dislodge anything of intrinsic value.
Ian D. Hall