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good but a missed opportunity
on 18 December 2013
This is a good series but could have been great. The reason I say this is because it could have covered much more of the Bible than it actually does. Instead it concentrates more on the new testament which has been covered in many other TV adaptations and films. So it inevitably invites comparison with those other adaptations. For me the "Jesus of Nazareth" TV series is still the best adaptation of the life of Jesus. This series is good but not as well done.
I will explain more specifically why I feel this series was not as great as it could have been. Firstly, I didn't like the OTT violence in some episodes eg. the "Ninja-Angels" in Sodom. The martial arts/sword fighting seemed to be there just to cater to a (young?) American audience. Would have been better if they'd used a "supernatural"-type force to defeat the pursuers rather than action-movie style fighting.
Next the CGI was very good at times, not so at others. The parting of the Red Sea is still a huge undertaking on a TV budget no matter how far the technology has come and was a little under-whelming.
Plus, the acting was very hit and miss and the casting choices a bit bizarre at times. Joseph and Mary looked too Anglo-saxon and not at all Jewish. Plus they spoke in very British accents. Jesus, on the other hand, had a completely different accent which actually took some getting used to. This was no doubt deliberate, to make him more "different" to others around him. The casting of a black Samson, although at first seemed to just smack of today's P. C. mentality, actually worked for me. This was due to the actor playing Samson who I thought was pretty good as was the actress playing his Mother.
Finally, I feel there must have been big edits in places as it is very disjointed sometimes-things just seemed to jump around. For example the series starts with Noah's Ark. Noah is recounting events about the old testament to his children-this leads to flashbacks of the events themselves. You would think that after this the narrative would return to Noah. But it doesn't. So it is never revealed what happened to the ark, whether it landed anywhere or was just continually sailing the seas! Also at the end of the "King David and Bethsheba" sequence it is revealed that they have a son. The camera slowly pans in on the baby while David announces that his name is Solomon. This seems to be an important revelation. However the story does not continue with Solomon, so his fate is completely unknown. The "Wisdom of Solomon" would have been a good story to tell.
There might have been a deliberate decision after production to cut many sequences, particularly from the old testament. If there had been a "bridging" sequence or montage this would have made the transition between the old and new testaments smoother and less abrupt. When the narrator kicks in frequently within a few minutes, both in the old and new testaments, I feel this must have been where the cuts are.
Overall, I actually wish the series had covered more of the Old testament as this has been neglected in favour of the new testament in the past. And that is the main problem I have with the series. After a couple of episodes it just jumped to the birth of Jesus, as if they felt they needed to get to familiar ground more quickly. This is a real shame as the title "The Bible" suggests it will cover more of the old testament as well as the new.
So, although I applaud the intent of the series I feel it could have covered more that hasn't already been done before, as I mentioned earlier. I therefore feel it was a bit of a missed opportunity.