The Bible

2013-07-13_2137Oh dear.

Earnest voice-overs, melodramatic direction, awkward violence, dull execution – where to start with The Bible?

This series produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, The Apprentice) makes no apology for attempting to stay true to the work, yet it necessarily undergoes elaborate editing.

It begins with the Ark in a stormy sea. As Noah (with a bit of a Scottish accent) tells the story of Creation, surrounded by pairs of animals, we get a CGI version and some natural history documentary footage showing whales, flamingos and a parrot. Adam rises from the dirt (no Darwinism here) while Eve bites into an apple and a snake hovers nearby. Adam and Eve are pretty hot, and possibly strayed off the set of Survivor.

When Cain whacks a bloodied Abel with a rock, a hooded Devil doing his best not to look like Barack Obama, looks on. “Wrong choices, wrong decisions,” Noah explains of mankind. “That’s why this is happening.”

Swirling music accompanies this introduction with a CGI Ark and and aerial shot that pulls back through the clouds to reveal the sea, the clouds, Earth. It’s a Hollywood-style opening, but with none of Cecil B. de Mille’s authenticity.

An American narrator links us to from sequence to sequence with all the subtlety of a Christian Education video, rather than television drama. We even get a highlights montage of what’s to come. He sets the scene for Abraham standing in the desert and receiving instructions from God.

“Abraham, leave your home and go to the land I will give to you and your offspring,” God whispers. God has an American accent too and his overly-ominous manner reminds me a little of The Amityville Horror.  Get out Abraham, get out.

At this point we move into the first real story of the episode, as Abraham (Gary Oliver) convinces his wife and a family tribe to leave their home for a more prosperous future. The setting for their desert journey looks authentic enough, but the multicultural cast are distracting with their contrasting features and conflicting accents.

After his nephew Lot departs for the Jordan River Plain the first of several battles in The Bible takes place as Abraham attempts to rescue him in the Battle of the Vale of Siddim. At this point The Bible attempts to match Game of Thrones and Spartacus in its depiction of violence. We hear all the sound effects of swords and daggers slicing and dicing. It’s followed later by Abraham tempted by a semi-naked female. At this point I’m waiting for dragons to appear…

Three hooded visitors arrive to Abraham with more prophecies from God. One looks African, another Asian. They must have come a long way, but they head onto Sodom which is a city of sin and revelry. When God destroys Sodom with a firestorm, the CGI is ramped up to the max. Fireballs pummel the city, like something out of a bad popcorn movie. The visitors try to save Lot from God’s destruction, including turning into martial arts experts against the corrupt citizens of Sodom. In the process Lot’s wife turns into a CGI pillar of salt. Sorry, spoiler alert.

On and on this turgid, overwrought hour of television persists. Violence is explicitly depicted in the Lord’s name, which will arguably put this at odds for a modern television audience. No wonder this is rated M for violence. At one point when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar by stabbing him with a knife I was waiting for the “Do not attempt this at home” warning.

When I wasn’t laughing at how bad this hot mess was I was bored, which is the biggest sin of all, Abraham.

Despite having a Hollywood budget and all the technical wizardry at their fingertips, The Bible falls a long way short of other biblical dramatisations, The Ten Commandments, The Robe, Ben Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told and Jesus of Nazareth. More than anything, this is a lost opportunity.

The bible belt audience of America may have been suckered in by this, but I’m not surprised critics slammed it.

Wrong choices, wrong decisions indeed, Noah…

Unintentionally, it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV all year and I would highly recommend watching it while reading Twitter at the same time.

The Bible airs 9pm Tuesday on Nine.


  1. Only in America would a funny old fable like this be produced for and screened on The History channel!

    When will these heathens learn from their sins and air the true story of how the great Spaghetti Monster created the world and all it contains? It’s time for the Pastafarian revolution, time to lead mankind away from his mistaken beliefs and onto the one true path to enlightenment.

  2. OMG!! It’s kinda like The Bible meets Kung Fu Hustle . .

    I think the camels are the best part so far (and possibly the best actors).

  3. wow that really looks like a stinker alright, the cgi looks like its from a 90’s video game, the acting, well the least they could have done was get Sean Connery to do Noah, i mean why the Scottish accent? I wondered if its because the actor is Scottish but he’s not even mentioned in the imdb listing, maybe god banished him for his poor acting skills lol I might watch this just for a laugh.

  4. Maev....Sydney

    There are that many clips on YouTube…you could almost watch it there…I am afraid the picture in this article was enough for me…way OTT.

  5. David, your description was spot on. I’d love to watch it just for a giggle but I am just about to leave the country for eight weeks. I’ll have to keep abreast via this website. Tally Ho…..

  6. toriwannabe

    “We even get a highlights montage of what’s to come.”. Well, you did say it was produced by the producer of reality shows. Were there endless recaps too? :o)

  7. Secret Squirrel

    “Scotch and popcorn time at my place!” – damn it; I’m on the wrong side of the country. I will just have to supply my own.

    @Lucy – Bit of a foolhardy comment. Is this because *you’re* a Neinist?

  8. Hi David,

    Just had a look at the 5 minute preview.
    It sent shivers through me………

    Bugger,no it didn’t I just didn’t have the heater on.
    ( lmao 🙂

  9. steveany 2.0

    Aww, David. You’ve ruined it for me with that preview snippet. It’s not funny at all, it’s just awful. (Noah’s Scots accent is maybe a little funny).
    Very second rate.

  10. steveany 2.0

    What a great review. I’m going to watch this now. There’s nothing better than a “Plan 9 from Outer Space” quality movie. Scotch and popcorn time at my place! That said, anybody laughing at this flick had better prepare their buttocks for some post-apocalyptic red-hot pitchfork action if there is indeed a Bible-style God ; )

    • Lucy as far as I know you have never met me, so you are assuming an awful lot. I absolutely stand by my review as dreadful television, and you should have noted the compliments I paid to other biblical works near the end of the review all of which were excellent. I also noted The Bible was a missed opportunity.

  11. Secret Squirrel

    Burnett and his wife apparently decided to make this after watching “The Ten Commandments”. As with a lot of Hollywood “remakes” they seem to have failed to understand what made the original film good.

    In the same way as some people will watch (and apparently enjoy) any sci-fi movie no matter how bad it is, there will be an audience for this despite its inaccuracies. It’s somewhat ironic that a movie about the literary basis of several faiths is not actually faithful to it.

  12. It will probably make a lot of money with DVD sales to fundamentalists.

    The question is why is Nine showing it in primetime. They are filling again next week on Sunday with junk and more Mentalist repeats. I guess with the State of Origin and Cricket they can save stuff for later.

  13. The missed many opportunities for dragons.

    Isaiah 27:1 – In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea.

    Maybe when they get to end with Revelations.

    Revelation 12:9 – And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

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