Last night, The History Channel premiered a new mini-series called The Bible. Being an eternal optimist, I had high hopes (okay, maybe not high ones, but hopes nonetheless) that this might be different that all the other works about Christianity and the Bible. Then, I found out that it was produced by television genius (?) Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey. Now, these two have some real credentials for making a film about the Bible. I mean, we’re talking about the guy who’s done more to perpetuate the scourge that is the modern reality show and the woman from that classic piece of 90’s cheese, Touched by an Angel. This is going to be so good, I thought to myself. And those aforementioned hopes were oh, so bolstered when I saw that Downey would be playing Mary. Because, as we all know, Jesus’ mom was a middle-aged Irish woman.
So it was with baited breath that I tuned into the History Channel last night. Okay, not really. To be honest, I forgot about it and only remembered when I pulled up the channel guide. Maybe I should rephrase the opening sentence to this paragraph: So, it was with a lackadaisical attitude that I said “Let’s see what this mess is all about” and pushed the “select” button. It was right in the middle of the Sodom and Gomorrah story and…, look, I could write an entire post on what they got wrong (Lot and his family on the run from the crowd, hiding out instead of at home, omission of Lot offering his daughters in place of the angels, daughters young girls and not married, etc. ) and another on what they added (angels dressed and equipped as Roman soldiers, lots of righteous smiting with cool-but-nowhere-near-period-correct swords, one angel Asian and the other black, the Asian angel knew some kind of angelic kung fu, the family still in town when God rains fire and brimstone on it). While I’ll admit it was pretty freaking awesome, it wasn’t anywhere near the actual story in Genesis. I’d had enough at that point, so I changed the channel. Which means I have no idea how they handled the part where Lot’s daughters got him drunk. Considering the earlier whitewashing job (leaving out Lot’s offer to the mob), I’m not hopeful they got this right either.
Since I couldn’t watch anymore, a full review is out of the question. But, if the sequence I saw is in any way representative, this thing has, at best, a nodding acquaintance with the Bible it’s supposed to be based on. I’ve given up my hope that some day, someone will make a film that comes close to what’s really in there. The problem is the Bible isn’t exactly what you’d call media friendly. Attempts to make it so, rob it of its richness and meaning. And that’s why all the movies and TV shows about it suck.