It’s been nearly two years since U.S. audiences have enjoyed new episodes of Rev., the hilarious, award-winning Britcom starring the fantastic Tom Hollander as a stressed-out vicar trying to keep his struggling church afloat in inner-city East London.
That extended hiatus wasn’t due to any quality concerns at its home channel in the UK (BBC2), where Rev. is revered as the highest-rated comedy series (it’s also carried in more than 140 channels worldwide). No, we haven’t seen Rev. for awhile simply because Hollander, its executive producer, co-creator and co-writer as well as star, is simply one of the busiest British actors working today, as is his leading lady, Olivia Colman, who was David Tennant’s detective partner in the shattering murder mystery Broadchurch.
As Rev. belatedly returns with six new episodes Sunday on Hulu Plus, time clearly hasn’t stood still in the neighborhood surrounding St. Saviour in the Marshes. For one thing, at the tiny vicarage, the Rev. Adam Smallbone (Hollander) and his patient wife, Alex (Colman), have welcomed their first child, daughter Katie, now approaching her first birthday (we see the frenzied circumstances of Katie’s birth in the opening moments of the season premiere).
What that means, most pertinently, is that Adam and Alex are dealing with the same stresses they’ve endured before, only with exponentially less sleep, especially now that Katie is going through a bout of explosive diarrhea. “Perhaps Satan is in charge of her bottom because you haven’t baptized her yet,” offers Archdeacon Robert (Simon McBurney) during one of his frequent visits to remind Adam that the size of both his congregation and his church coffers is a matter of growing concern among church officials.
In fact, two such officials – Area Dean Jill Mallory and Diocesan Secretary Geri Tennison (Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine, respectively, both of the Britcom Getting On) – also have stopped by to remind Adam passive-aggressively that, with the larger neighborhood now experiencing a sharp decline in its Christian populations as more Muslim residents move in, some old, high-maintenance churches such as St. Saviour may have to be shuttered.
That motivates Adam to collaborate with local Imam Yussef Hasan (guest star Kayvan Novak) on a fund-raiser to renovate a rusty and dog poo-choked playground in the season premiere. The event is a rousing success, although Adam and his flock are able to contribute only an embarrassingly tiny portion.
Episode two finds Adam on the horns of a different dilemma when two close gay friends of his ask him to officiate at their wedding. That being a no-no for the Church of England, Adam offers instead to lead a prayer for them at the regular Wednesday Eucharist gathering, but that event quickly spirals out of control.
Also returning to their occasional guest roles this season are Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as cleric and motivational speaker Roland Wise and Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London.
Rev. is the kind of rich, character-driven comedy that rewards faithful viewing, so if you are joining the series in progress, be sure to take advantage of the fact that Hulu Plus is streaming Seasons 1 and 2 as well. Hollander recently has said that he’s not sure whether he’s up for a fourth season as Adam Smallbone, so by all means enjoy the myriad delights of Rev. while you can.