Monday, March 18, 2013

The Gospel According to the History Channel, Review of Part 3

The History Channel's mini-series "The Bible" is shaping up much better than I expected it would and getting excellent, record-breaking ratings.  It's not perfect but, with lowered expectations, it's watchable and you might even learn a thing or two.  Episode 3 completed the telling of the Old Testament and brought us to Jesus, which enters dangerous territory.  It is incredible hard to portray the Son of God in drama without offending someone.  I can't imagine being a writer and inventing dialogue for him or being the actor and second-guessing every tone and subtle gesture.

But I liked episode 3, much better in fact than I liked episode 2, although every episode has had a ton of little nit-picky mistakes.  Some of these mistakes and distractions are just a part of film-making, others are matter of prop-masters not being up to speed on their archaeology or not having the budget to show that they are.

So here's my Top-10 nitpicks and random thoughts on episode 3:

  1. Even though everyone else was upset that Satan looked like President Obama, which even my kids recognized, Tanner thought the prophet Jeremiah looked like the Three Stooges' Larry Fine.  I thought he looked like Doc Brown from Back to the Future.
  2. I didn't like how they portrayed the fiery furnace.  It wasn't so much a furnace as it was a room they sort of set fire to.   It should have already been so hot that the guards died throwing them into it.  I also thought that Nebuchadnezzar's later insanity wasn't very clear to anyone who didn't know the story.
  3. Ancient people used A LOT of eye shadow.  Especially bad guys.
  4. "Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!"  Did you see the two scenes showing them writing on and using cylinder seals?  Awesome.  I think that's the first time I've ever seen it in a movie.
  5. I liked the portrayal of Daniel and the lion's den.  A lot.  It just clicked with me.
  6. I thought the representations of Roman oppression, Herod the Great, and the history of crucifixions was spot on.  I've always pictured Jesus, living under Roman oppression, seeing crucifixions on the roadside.
  7. Like almost every nativity scene, church play, and movie, they get the wise men a bit wrong.  We don't know how many wise men there are or their names.  And we can be pretty sure that the wise men didn't get to Jesus at the manger, but rather a year or two later.  Also, they learned of Bethlehem from Herod's people and Herod killed all the children under two years old, not just the infants.  Oh, well.
  8. The location (Morocco) looks very Middle-East-ish, but it's not Judea (or Babylon, or Egypt).  So sometimes there are mountains and deserts in the wrong places and the poor little Sea of Galilee looked like a pond instead of a body of water eight miles across.
  9. I liked that they showed baptism as full immersion although they left out a few important lines from the story of Jesus' baptism.
  10. To condense the story they skipped Solomon's reign, the Divided Kingdom, Isaiah, Elijah, Ahab & Jezebel, Ezekiel, Jonah and almost all of the prophets, the writing on the wall, Nehemiah, Esther, Elizabeth, and young Jesus at the temple, et al.

1 comment:

backwards and upside down said...

I have been very disappointed at the places where they completely contradict scripture in this series. Though it may be in places that don't change the overall story of redemption, their change/ignorance of scripture also didn't add to the story. The angels showing up at Lot's door bleeding when the bible says Lot met them at the city gate. Abraham is about to kill Isaac and what shows up? A baby lamb? Hard to get the horns caught in the bushes when there aren't any horns. Just a couple of examples that got my goat (pun intended). I don't mind writers filling in the blanks for the sake of story and drama where the bible is silent. But when the bible speaks, don't say something different.