Two television shows about the Bible have recently been cancelled. What does this say about the quality of writing in Hollywood?
[Darris McNeely] A headline on the news here recently talked about two television programs cancelled by two of the major networks, ABC and NBC. The headline of the article said, “Bible Gets Thumped As Networks Slam Brakes On Ol’ Time Religion”. It was an interesting article, and it raised the question from within the article itself, where they raised the question, can a pair of sacred, ancient texts – in this case, referring to the Bible, the Old and the New Testament – can they make it in a present-day medium that is decidedly unholy? Their words for television, the media environment. Because NBC recently made a decision to cancel what had been a previously very popular series about the Bible called A.D. just recently, where they took various vignettes from the New Testament and were telling the story of the Bible there. ABC had slated for the coming year another series based on the Old Testament that they were going to begin calling Gods and Kings, or Kings – in this particular series that was going to be focusing on stories about King David and the time of certain Old Testament situations there. Both were announced to be aired. Both then have now been, it appears, cancelled, taken off of prime time ABC, NBC television networking for the coming year. And they asked the question, can sacred texts make it in a decidedly unholy medium?
It’s a good question. It’s a valid question. You know, I’ve seen a lot of these biblical epics. We’ve reviewed movies that have been recently made here on BT Daily, and even talked about some of this programming. As I’ve watched and tried to get into some of it, after one or two episodes I usually stopped watching myself. And I’m interested in the Bible, I teach the Bible, I believe in the Bible. But I see the way that it is handled by scriptwriters, well-meaning – but sometimes I wonder, are they really competent to even write about biblical topics given their particular perspective? When some who say that they are atheist, they try to write a story, a screenplay, about a major biblical character or event, and they cannot really handle the story itself, and certainly come at it from a perspective of reverence and respect, if not holiness, which is what we are really dealing with, holy material. Modern-day screenwriters really do have a problem writing about the Bible in any way, shape or form, and molding it into the tastes and the norms that are there for prime time television, moviemaking, and all that we have today.
I think the problems come out in the way they finally try to translate some of these stories from the Bible, given the demands of an audience today and the medium of television and movies that they are dealing with. Frankly, with television, I get disgusted with, after watching eight minutes or nine minutes of a feature talking about something from the gospels, then they have to cut to a commercial to sell something. And that of course is what drives and pays for the production, but again, are they casting pearls before swine? Are we not properly handling holy matters because of the dictates of the consumer marketplace today and the very medium that we’re talking about? As this article goes on to even look at today – people may be looking for aspiration, they may be looking for inspiration, they may be looking for something and indeed, I think that they are. But they’re not always getting it, even from well-meaning producers and directors with television and movie productions that are out there, and as a result, they tune out and they go elsewhere. And they don’t go to television for it.
So it’s a lesson of where we are on our culture today, and perhaps it’s a lesson for each one of us to consider – go first to the Bible. Go first to the word of God and seek to understand it there. That’s where God’s truth can begin to work with us in our own lives.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.