I have to admit I am rather uncertain about whether I will bother watching an upcoming drama miniseries on the History Channel. I have seen ads for "The Bible" that make it look pretty good. The production values seem to be better than average. I will probably end up watching the first episode but with rather low expectations.
I am suspicious of its actual merits in part because it is being put on by History Channel. Despite its name they rarely offer anything of a scholarly nature. A huge chunk of their scheduling is consumed by paranormal crap (Ancient Aliens, MonsterQuest, Countdown to Apocalypse, UFO Hunters....) and "reality" shows (Pawn Stars, Big Rig Bounty Hunters, Swamp People, Ultimate Soldier Challenge....). Even when they offer a documentary or even a series that covers historical events or themes they end up being incredibly shoddy.
My skepticism was fueled further by a short review I read shortly after seeing a few of the ads. Religious News Service's Megan Sweas seems to think it's worth seeing. Her piece, "For Hollywood couple, 'The Bible' miniseries is a ‘labor of love’", reveals a little more about the upcoming series but none of it is as flattering as she seems to think. I don't necessarily have anything against either Roma Downey or Mark Burnett but I also am not impressed that they are the couple behind the production. I certainly don't think of them as "Hollywood heavyweights." In some ways it could be seen as a negative for the series in term of it being taken seriously (as a drama, anyway) since they clearly have an agenda. It doesn't help that Roma's biggest claim to fame is "Touched By an Angel." I found that show to be somewhat cute and entertaining for most of the first season. After that it was just incredibly predictable, overly melodramatic, and just plain boring. Burnett's only claim is to the horribly misnamed genre, "reality tv."
The content itself is also potentially problematic. Viewed strictly in terms of entertainment it may be quite good. If the few ads I've seen are an accurate indication of the acting and cinematography then it should be worth watching. However, if the message that the couple seem to want to convey gets too blatant and heavy handed it could easily turn to crap. There are a handful of hints in the review that make me think that the latter is far more likely.
"The project has received rave early reviews from evangelicals, who are a key part of the film’s marketing plan. Starting with Noah telling the story of creation aboard his ark, the film weaves through biblical epics and the life of Christ and the early apostles....
While they describe 'The Bible' as a 'love story' between God and mankind, the project is also rooted in their own love story."
Yikes! Only the most delusional of evangelicals/fundamentalists could fail to see such a contradiction. A "love story" demonstrated by a creator who refuses to own up to it's own errors but instead resorts to genocide to fix those errors is a pretty fucking twisted commentary. My curiosity will probably win out. I doubt I will watch it when it originally airs since it is set for Sunday nights and would interfere with The Walking Dead (a slightly more believable drama) but they will most certainly re-run it numerous times.