History's 'The Bible': What The Critics Are Saying
'The Bible' Earns Emmy Nomination
Will The Bible be as popular on screen as it has been throughout the centuries on paper?
Despite the sacred text's popularity -- some estimate that in 2005 Americans purchased 25 million Bibles -- not all book-to-movie adaptations translate well to audiences. But for all the negative reviews that have rolled in from television critics of the miniseries, History channel is anticipating record audiences.
So what did those critics actually have to say about the labor of love created by Mark Burnett and his wife, Touched By An Angel star Roma Downey?
The Hollywood Reporter's TV critic Allison Keene found the biggest conundrum of the miniseries to be its struggle to pinpoint an intended audience.
"The Bible never seems to figure out how to present itself. It spends a lot of time in the New Testament (at least, in the Gospels), which is already very well-worn territory on TV and in film. Sometimes it stays true to scripture, but then does things like adds angels with ninja skills to spice things up. That's one thing the Bible itself really doesn't need -- it's a complex and lyrical work full of prophesies and call-backs and a sense of being one, organic, intertwined story. Unfortunately, The Bible is fractious and overwrought. Others are sure to pick apart the deviations from the sacred text, but that's just the beginning of the miniseries' issues. In the end, this is the most well-known and popular book in the history of humanity for a reason -- it's exciting and interesting and full of hope. The Bible is unfortunately none of these."
The Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin couldn't look past the History channel's hypocrisy in choosing to air such a miniseries, when they famously killed a dramatic mini-series about the Kennedy family on the grounds that its “dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”
"The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t amount to much more than a further piece of evidence that drama and reverence don’t mix well. (To be fair, it would be the prohibitive favorite if only there were an Emmy for Screenplay In Which The Sentences ‘God Has Spoken To Me’ and ‘God Will Provide’ Are Said the Most Times.) With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune — laughably, the destruction of Sodom is depicted without the faintest hint of the sexual peccadillo that takes its name from the city — this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian. The Bible marks the first attempt at drama by reality-show maven Mark Burnett, whose soul I would consider in serious jeopardy if it hadn’t already been forfeited during the second season of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"
Los Angeles Times TV critic Robert Lloyd is just plain tired of producers rehashing the same old story.
"The series is ultimately a work of the imagination; indeed, it could have used a little more." Lloyd continued: "The Bible according to Burnett and Downey is a handsome and generally expensive-looking production, but it is also flat and often tedious, even when it tends to the hysterical, and as hard as the Hans Zimmer soundtrack strains to keep you on the edge of your sofa. The dialogue is pedestrian and functional — sometimes it has the flavor of having been made up on the spot — and often overacted, as if in compensation. It is 'psychological' only in obvious ways, with the poetry of the King James version all but ignored."