I don’t watch much television so the name Mark Burnett means nothing to me, specifically, but fans of his “reality” programming might be interested in the fact that he’s going to try his hand at a 5 part/10 hour Bible series for the History Channel, to air in 2013. I got a kick out of John Doyle’s piece in the Globe and Mail about it:
given Burnett’s track record, the mind must boggle at the prospect of his Bible series. Burnett is partly responsible for a new genre of television with his competition shows featuring ordinary people with outsize personalities. These shows are also notorious for being edited to create narrative arcs, tensions and climaxes that conform to the tropes of fiction.
What sort of biblical stories will emerge under Burnett’s influence? Will the people and critters on Noah’s Ark be engaged in ludicrous competition in order to avoid being thrown overboard? Is this Adam and Eve couple a mere alliance to save the Tribe? See what I mean about a boggled mind?
Nobody likes to have their bible messed with, even if they have no bloody clue what’s really in there, so I think he’d be forced to stick to scripture, not make new scripts for everyone’s favourite vengeful god.
Not that I know a vast amount about the Bible, as I’ve explained. But I do know this – Burnett is an immensely clever huckster, usually correct in his judgment of viewers’ tastes and needs. If he’s doing the Bible, then maybe the Bible is the future of TV storytelling. Take that, Playboy Bunnies and Pan Am flight attendants in tight skirts.
He’ll make “edutainment” out of it. He won’t be teaching people about how religions are created out of humanity’s own wants and needs at different points in time, he’ll be focusing on kowtowing to a fan base his other shows weren’t specifically geared towards: the Christian right. The ones who want to believe the bible is completely god-inspired and the only book people need today in order to see heaven tomorrow.
I think this series will be as unnecessary as everything else Burnett has produced in his lifetime in television.