Some thoughts on the TV mini-series, "The Bible."


I’ve seen a lot of hype about the History Channel and their treatment of “The Bible.”  I decided that with all the advertisement, it might be pretty good.  In this case, I would suggest reading the book.

First of all, the stories they have chosen to tell are full of violence and obviously selected for the technical impact they can make.  The stories are, as far as I got, from the Old Testament.  They seem to have started with Noah with only a perfunctory mention of the creation.  Most of the characters are made to seem larger than life and they’re either screaming at the top of their lungs, or whispering so that I can’t really hear what they’re saying.  If I turn up my TV, then the next scene will be a loud one and could possible shake the ground to the point that I’d find myself sliding into a sink hole.  I like to be able to understand every word in a drama, or a comedy. I found it a bit off-putting that Noah seemed to have a Scottish accent.  It seems that every character has a different accent, which adds to the confusion for me. 

There are some lovely stories in the Bible.  Yes, there’s a lot of violence, death and destruction, but there are also some wonderfully tender stories.  I don’t claim to be an expert on the Bible, though my father certainly was.  In my memory, most of the people described in the Bible, the book, that is, are just common ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations.  That’s not the way this television mini-series is portraying them at all. Moses is portrayed as rather full of bravado rather than a quiet man of strength and faith.

The stories may be in some kind of sensible order, but they seem to jump around a bit.  It’s easy to fall asleep watching a two-hour segment of this feature.  I guess that I expected a different treatment from the “History Channel.”

My understanding is that the show will move to the New Testament in the next episode.  Jesus Christ will appear on the scene. 

There has been some really harsh criticism of this show.  I decided to read a bit of what other people think after starting this segment.  It is supposedly appropriate for 14 year old children, but many people seem to think it is much too violent for that age group and inappropriate for family viewing.  However, I understand that thirteen million people watched the first episode and another thirteen million watched the second showing of the first episode.  The most common criticism seems to be about the emphasis on violence.

It seems that the makers of this show aimed at the “spectacular,” and clearly, they achieved that goal.  The stories highlighted, however, fail to inform “the big picture.”  So far the stories have gone from Noah to Moses, Samson and David.  David is portrayed as an overly ambitious soldier, but no mention was made of the poet and musician who, according to the actual Bible, charmed everyone.

Maybe they chose the wrong title for this series.  Wouldn’t the creation be a more sensible place to start? That wouldn’t necessarily negate divine intelligence.  While they did mention the creation briefly, it was a stylized depiction that didn’t really tell the whole story.  I guess I’m just not sure what the point of this mini-series is.  When I was about 13 years old movies like “The Ten Commandments,” and “Ben-Hur” were much more impressive and powerful.  Even later there was a movie called “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”  I don’t remember seeing that, but it dealt with the life of Christ. I should think the history channel would aim at lining up what we can prove happened and what the Bible tells us.  It makes sense to me to correlate the stories of the Bible to what records we have from those times.  I don’t think it’s clear to people what is proven fact and what is conjecture. This is a chance for the History Channel to clarify some of the events.

I think they should have named this mini-series “selected stories from the Bible.”  I’m not altogether sure that the Bible is best suited for a mini-series.  If you’re enjoying the show, that’s great.  For me, there are too many things about this show that leave me less than impressed.