The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

TV brings back the heroic priest

It’s happening on the sci-fi series “V” — and the character in question is portrayed by an actor who admits Catholic priests played a big role in his own life:

The sci-fi series “V” — which returns in early January — offers one of the rarest sights on TV: a heroic priest. 


Priests on TV are, these days, child molesters or behind-the-collar schemers. It’s only natural considering recent headlines.

But “V” having a heroic priest a as one of its main characters? That makes Father Jack Landry practically one of kind in prime time.

The novelty is not lost on Joel Gretsch, the actor who plays Father Landry.

“I grew up in a small town in Minnesota,” says Gretsch, “and there was a seminary — the biggest one in the country — about six miles from there. I’d go to leadership camp there every summer.

“I was around a lot of priests who were very influential in my life in an extraordinary way.”


“V” is a remake of the popular, 1983 miniseries about a fleet of alien space ships that appear one day over the major cities of the world. The “Visitors,” as the aliens call themselves, promise their intent is peaceful and that they only want to help humanity.
But a few humans learn early on that the Visitors are not what they claim to be.
In the opening moment of the new series — which switched from NBC to ABC in the intervening 27 years — people are shown flocking to their houses of worship. In times of fear and confusion, naturally people turn to faith.

That’s where the novelty of the Father Jack character — who was not in the original — comes in, because the priest is one of the few who realize the Vistors are up to no good. 


“Father Jack can’t be, ‘Okay, let’s just hold hands and pray,’ ” says Gretsch. “He knows, ‘I have to do something. I have to do stuff, and people are going to possibly get hurt. We’re in a war, and when you go to war there are going to be casualties.’ “

Check out more here.

Comments read comments(10)
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Kathy Schiffer

posted November 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

Wow, what great news! I never watched the old version of “V”– but you can bet I’ll check this out.

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posted November 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Can’t you just say you’re glad one of the heroes is a priest? Why must you whine?

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Padre Steve

posted November 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Interesting. I will have to check it out. Let’s pray he remains a solid character.

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posted November 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

From Prester John to Friar Tuck to Solomon Kane, there is that element of heroic priest that remains a tasty aspiration. However, there are opposites to this role too. There is a comic book/novel called “Preacher” that also has an aggressive priest in the central role, though he is not exactly a hero in the classic (as in Sunday School acceptable) sense. Nonetheless, many of us whose vocation is the ministry and whose profession is pastoral would like even just once to try on the Hero’s mantle (cape?) and solve some of the problems of our day.

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posted November 23, 2010 at 6:24 pm

“V” is a totally fun series. The series needed a priest to fight the evil that is being done to the people of planet Earth.

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Nicholas Jagneaux

posted November 23, 2010 at 7:22 pm

My daughter and I were very happy to catch V when it premiered last spring. I loved the show as a kid in the 80s, and I was anxious to see the remmake/update.
Before I comment about the “priest”, I have to say that both of us became disappointed as the episodes continued. It started with a bang, but seemed to drag, and it lacked direction and internal logic.
About the “priest”: Both my daughter (a perceptive 14-year-old) and I got the feeling that he and his pastor weren’t Catholic. I don’t have the episodes memorized, so at this point I can’t specify what gave us that impression.
Anyway, the show certainly lets the romantic angle between him and the female lead continue to smolder. That’s not necessarily a problem: she is an attractive woman. The love interest is not overt, and the “priest” is careful not to cross any lines. Plus, if he can maintain his integrity, it could be very positive to show a commitment to the celibate life.
Deacon Greg: Thank you for your blog and for your service to the Church.

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Gail F

posted November 24, 2010 at 10:22 am

I watched “V” for a while last year but lost interest. The characters, especially the woman FBI agent, are all idiots. While I had high hopes for Fr. Jack, he’s an idiot too. And not just an idiot — an indecisive idiot. But not a bad character and not an “interesting” character in the sense that he questions his faith, has an affair, etc. His big problem is deciding if the Vs are bad (answer: yes) and if so, if he should fight them (answer: yes). And he is just too dumb to notice that the elderly pastor he serves under is obviously an alien. So my take: dumb show, neutral character. And for TV, neutral is good.

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Don Schenk

posted November 24, 2010 at 10:38 am

Actually, there was a priest in the first “V” series–who was a dupe of the Vs.
Television being what it is, I expect Father Landry to reject the Church by the end of the series.

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posted November 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

In other words, there’s hope for Father Landry as well as for humanity.

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posted November 30, 2010 at 12:48 pm

He’s an Anglican priest. In the previews, they show the name of the church and it’s Anglican.

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