This is not as long as my usual reviews, but because I did not watch the entire episode, I can only comment on what I saw. I don’t like to do this, but I will not have the time to watch the entire first episode of The Bible this week, and I wanted to post something while it is still relevant. This may be a breath of fresh air for my readers, especially when it comes to History Channel productions, but I did not hate this opening episode at all. In fact, it actually was decent. There are still plenty of little nuggets to poke fun at, and a few cringe moments, but overall, it was a pleasing effort for those who take the Bible as the literal word of God, and those who just like it as a good story. Some highlights that caught my attention are below:
- The first thing I noticed is that this had the look and feel of one of those “old time” mini-series epics from years gone by. In other words, it just did not look fake. The History Channel has been notorious in recent years for sacrificing accuracy for a cheap solution (remember the modern day nuts and bolts holding the fences together, and those cheap Wild West village knock-off kepis in Gettysburg?), but here, I really felt as though I was on my way to being transported through time. A few errors later, I realized I was still in my living room, but that is much more that can be said for their other recent garbage. The costume design had a lot to do with that, though I wish the clothing showed a bit more wear and tear, and the facial hair looked pretty good as well. The cinematography was outstanding, as this first episode was beautifully shot. The CGI also was not cheaply done, which would have been expected from a project like this.
- One item I was worrying about: melodramatic overacting. Thankfully, there was none of that, so far as I could tell. The characters, modern day traits aside, were pretty believable and down-to-earth, which is very important. The narration also was not overdone—it was just the right amount. However, and I know I’ve been harping on this for a while, but the British and Irish accents are absolutely killing me. I’ll even put aside the fairly light-skinned actors chosen to play middle-easterners and Egyptians, but when I look at someone like Ramses, and the voice of a Monty Python character comes out, it really does a lot to irk the viewer, at least for me anyway. Speaking of ethnicity, what was with the Asian character who visits Abraham early on? Angel of God or not, this one really bothered me as he seemed to be inserted only for the politically correct aspects of having to be diverse. If we take the Bible literally, and angels were really sent by God, they would have looked like the people they were visiting, as to not draw attention to themselves. For that, the authenticity takes a big hit.
- A couple of notes on the casting: I know in an earlier post I compared Moses to a member of a heavy metal band, but upon a closer look, he actually looks like a cross between Oliver Reed and Patrick Bergin. He even has a muddled Irish accent that could have used a little bit better annunciation, but at least his beard looked great. Secondly, how about Ramses coming in with a noggin like Barry Bonds? My goodness, he was a chunky little dude wasn’t he? That’s the other thing that bothered me, because as someone usually portrayed as an Adonis figure, he looked like he needed to lay off the donuts in the break room and join weight watchers. And what was with the scar on his face? I honestly do not remember ever seeing a portrayal including one, and also do not remember the Bible mentioning it—I could be wrong, though. Anyway, it suited my taste…he looked like a hockey player!
Overall, there were plenty of cringe moments to go around, but this was not horrible by any means, and certainly was not as bad as I was expecting (I’ll leave that to Vikings). I am interested to see what other people thought of this, religious or not, because this was so highly anticipated that the audience must be quite diverse. For my rating, I will give it a flexible 6.5 out of 10.