The life, death, and resurrection of Christ are most the crucial events of all human history. They radically shifted everything and continue to turn the world topsy-turvy. So how did this all impact those who were closest to him—his disciples, his mother, or the political and religious leaders of the day? “‘A.D.’ will focus on the disciples who had to go forward and spread the teachings of Christ to a world dominated by political unrest, and the start of a whole new religion that would dramatically reshape the history of the world” (nbc.com/ad-the-bible-continues).
A new perspective
This show, as its predecessor, will certainly divide viewers and critics alike. Some will love it while others not so much. While there are certain creative choices that I would have done differently, I do still believe that this is a well-done series, and more significantly, it is an important series to be done.
The pilot episode “The Tomb Is Open” begins the series fairly strong and seems to be setting up for some powerful and intriguing story-telling. The production quality is as good as any, and the overall acting is compelling as well. But what is most interesting about this series is just how fresh it feels. We have seen many depictions of Old Testament stories and of the Gospel, but we have rarely seen the book of Acts shown on screen. Yet, the events in Acts are paramount to the Christian faith. It is the beginning of the Church Age and offers the origins of our faith and traditions. The scenery seems familiar, but the actual stories are different from what we are used to.
It’s all about the characters
The series also does a fantastic job in shaping its characters. As a viewer, you start to put yourself in the “sandals” of those you are watching. You start to ask yourself questions: How would I have responded during this turbulent time? Would I have been more like Peter or like John? What would my political stance have been?
Although Jesus is not physically present on screen most of the time, his presence nonetheless permeates every scene. The other characters are constantly talking of him, and every character’s motivations and choices are directly linked to him. Jesus is depicted as the super hero of the show, and yet this time, the hero is not the main character focus. Instead we get to witness how everyone else responds. We are put in the place of the friend and citizen and the confused. So we get to see the struggle of humanity: the pain of loss, the conflict of social pressures and strength found in hoping against all odds. We empathize with Peter as he wrestles within himself after denying his Lord. We see the political gauntlet between the Governor Pontius Pilate and the High Priest Caiaphas. I do not believe we have ever seen this perspective of a biblical story, but it is refreshing and I believe needed. These characters have to ask themselves, “Who is Jesus and what does that mean for me?” Likewise, we must ask ourselves the same thing.
Now, because this is a review, some nit-picks
My biggest complaint is in the cliché Western portrayal of Jesus. It is evident that the makers attempted to add diversity to the cast, but I cannot help but think that far too many of the members are just Westerners pretending to be Middle Eastern. We all know that Jesus and His disciples were probably not pale-skinned and blue-eyed, so I just cannot understand why film- and television-makers continue to depict so many of them that way. How difficult is it to find an appropriately cast actor? At least use some convincing make-up! On this note, I am also a bit confused on the accent that was chosen. I’m not sure if all the actors are British or if they are intending to speak the same accent, but it can be quite inconsistent and at times distracting. Again, I am not sure what the creators were going for but it just does not seem to fit in with the times and culture.
Overall, just a few deterrents from an overall superb effort! “A.D. The Bible Continues” premieres Easter Sunday (April 5) at 9/8c, and I will be looking forward to watching the story unfold. The NBC series will run for twelve consecutive weeks and follow the first ten chapters of the book of Acts.
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Finley is a freelance writer and one small part of the incredible continuing story God is writing. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org