Within minutes of her first appearance on The Late Show (and quite possibly within seconds of her first appearance on TV, on The Big Gig a year or so earlier) audiences were divided on whether Judith Lucy was hilariously funny or a caustic, sarky harridan. Lucy’s long-awaited solo TV series Spiritual Journeyseems just as likely to divide audiences, for that reason and others.
Spiritual Journey is another of those documentary/sketch show hybrids that the ABC seems to make nothing but these days. Here at Tumblies Central we’re not the greatest fans of this type of program – it’s never going to deliver the laughs like a really good sitcom or sketch show could – but we enjoyed what we saw.
In episode one Judith Lucy reflects on her staunchly Catholic upbringing; she interviews priests and nuns, and recreates her childhood in series of hyper-real sketches directed by Tony Martin. Judging from the preview of episode two the rest of the series will see Lucy exploring a range of religions and belief systems, interviewing more people, getting involved in rituals and reliving more of her life through more sketches, which should be fun.
But while Spiritual Journey is definitely one of those documentary/sketch show hybrids, the approach is slightly different to that in Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable or John Safran’s Race Relations. In those programs documentary and sketch elements were brought together seamlessly through a prank or stunt; in Spiritual Journey the show seems to lurch from a serious interview to a sketch with barely a line of narration to link them; if you prefer a smoother change of tone you may prefer something else.
As for us, we were more interested in whether the sketches were funny and the interviews were interesting, and the good news is that they are. Judith Lucy’s stand-up over the past two decades, and her excellent autobiography The Lucy Family Alphabet, have covered religion, spirituality and the wacky beliefs of her family many times, so while much of the material is new she put it across like she’d been doing it for years.
However, if you’re one of those people who thought that Judith Lucy ruined The Late Show then we suggest you don’t bother with this series. Spiritual Journey is 100% pure Judith Lucy, and if you don’t like you can go to hell.