'The Bible' Brushed Past Naysayers, Reaching a Public Hungry for the Good Book
The critics began sharpening their pencils when it was announced that a new TV mini-series titled The Bible would debut on The History Channel.
The moment the first installment was aired, howling was heard in the night as the watchmen on the wall screamed that they made Satan look just like Obama! It was a deliberate tactic, by golly.
The liberals began accusing the conservatives of engineering this twist to make a point that Obama is evil. The sand in the Vaseline is that series co-producer Mark Burnett has donated repeatedly to Democrats. While that issue continued to swirl, the theologians came forth to set the world straight about "theological errors" in the series that they had a duty to correct.
There is a high ego among (some) Christian ministers, especially theologians who want the world to see them as very learned men who are excellent in religious matters. This can cause confusion to those hearing the Bible stories for the first time, are listening, and who then may be persuaded to walk away and say, “forget it.”
The faithful are especially prone to a gnawing necessity to fire the canon cannons at any film project regarding the Bible, or, any Christian leader that is in the spotlight, or even a book like The Harbinger while frantically searching for anything and everything possibly wrong that they can publicly correct.
This unproductive effort, in a perverse way, serves to verify their own existence as a person of worth.
The producer’s wife, Roma Downey, who played the angel, Monica, in the TV series, Touched by an Angel, became familiar with this affliction of the prominent as the pharisees proclaimed that there was no real salvation message and not enough of Jesus in the series—a series which impacted viewers precisely because it was not preaching but was filled with touching stories that encouraged people.
The Bible is produced thoughtfully, on purpose, and with a lavish production, nothing cheap or hurried, but the real thing. A hungry world seeking some kind of solace from the chaos enveloping everyone responded with 13.3 million viewers for the opening episode, an all time record for an original series on a cable television channel. It then climbed to 14 million.
It wasn’t just a fluke.
Those viewers were consistent for the entire series, catching the attention of Hollywood that is slowly beginning to realize the huge audiences they can attract with decent films about faith. This series, now available on Blu-ray, has even surpassed American Idol in viewer numbers.
At times, shortcuts were taken to keep the story moving smoothly from one event to the other at a brisk pace, which necessitated some re-writing and elimination of certain words or phrases found in the Bible.
Some incidents are altered to make the story flow, but as is stated in the opening credits, even though some alterations were necessary they still have kept the production “in the spirit of the book.” That they did.
As a result, this mini-series will prompt many (for the first time) to examine the Bible and as they open it, will remember the stories they saw portrayed, making it a more interesting read.
Downey, a fine actress, played Mary, the mother of Jesus, with such feeling that she drove this writer to tears. For her role, there was some subtle work on her nose that changed her appearance effectively for the portrayal. Yes, some of the violence was difficult to take, but that was what life was like during that primitive time.
Something did slip by. When the loaves and fishes were multiplying, one actor exhibited such joy that he started to make a sign of the cross. The camera cut away just in time (the sign of the cross came into being AFTER the crucifixion). And this writer would not see Daniel in fear as he was put in the lion’s den. I believe he would have been prayerfully confident, especially considering the victorious outcome. But these are minor things.
The overall picture stimulates a new awareness of faith and values.
The series goes beyond the crucifixion to see the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and John in Patmos writing the God inspired words of The Revelation.
It is an effective overview of the entire Bible that holds the interest of all. That is what good structure and editing can do. It is compelling high drama. Burnett and Downey did a superb job in creating, writing producing, and filming this series. It touched the world and no doubt will start a new trend in movies.
Already, Michael Landon, Jr. is preparing a biblical series titled Jesus of Nazareth. More will follow. The huge success of The Bible brings constructive focus to an incredibly large segment of the population that is ready, indeed anxious, to solidly boost Hollywood films that simply recognize and respect their values and culture which will be validated at the box office.