Drive far enough north in LA and you arrive at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Just a mile further and you can uncover Santa Clarita Studios – the TV home of Justified, Vegas, and Make It Or Break It. The independent filming location is nestled among non-descript office space. I was there thanks to one of those who-knows-who type things. My congregant, Bernie Kessler, knows Pamela Chais, a veteran TV writer of such shows as Love, Sydney and Maude. Pamela is the mother of Bill Chais, a TV writer and producer, who is also the co-creator the TNT Dramedy Franklin & Bash. Bernie was driving Pamela up to see her son’s set and got me an invite along. Now that’s an excellent congregant. And I got a great tour.
The Bible is inherently cinematic. it has the global story filled with dramatic tension, complicated personal lives, special effects, war, comedy, power, surprises, and much more. It is Game of Thrones with more violence and sex, but without Peter Dinklage.
So when The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries was announced, I was curious to see how a modern television version might put out a sweeping run of biblical stories. Along with millions of Americans, I watched the 10 hours of The Bible and I found those key elements – it was dramatic (the overbearing score reminded me of that), intense (the constant violence made sure I knew that), and passionate (all the shouting made sure I was aware they were playing IMPORTANT characters).
The Bible was produced by Mark Burnett (from Survivor) and Roma Downey (from Touched by an Angel) as a….well, passion product. They hope to bring over a billion new readers to the Bible. To help you on your journey there is the companion website, and they have created a merchandising machine – a companion novelization (Stephen Colbert had something to say about that), soundtrack,, DVD (on sale today!), mobile app, and more. Their “passion product” has also become a money making machine.
But while they attempted to make a family-friendly, marketable Bible for today, there were some areas of significant concern. And areas where I would have wished things were different.