I'm betting that most of the people reading this recap didn't actually watch the show. A quick check of the Nielsen overnights confirms this. But I know you've seen the ads, since NBC could have spun off a whole new cable network with all of them. And, I know what you're thinking -- The Bible? With techno music and Billy "Sexy Divorcé" Campbell? Ordinarily, I'd agree with you, and say this is precisely the sort of thing you couldn't pay me to watch. But it turns out that you can, so here's your chance to find out if it was really as bad as you were thinking. So sayeth the Lord, "It was."
Props to Sars and Wing Chun for giving me this opportunity, and to my parents, for naming me after not one, but two of the characters in The Greatest Story Ever Told (in this case by people who apparently don't tell many stories).
The show starts with a warning that while "this film reflects the spirit and historical significance of the stories of the Bible…some dramatic license has been taken." This doesn't bode well.
We open on Martin "This can be my Schindler's List" Landau, seated on a camel. Behind him we see Jacqueline "Please God, not another Bible mini-series" Bisset, and about a hundred extras. It's all very Ishtar. Genesis 12:1 appears helpfully on screen to tell us that God has commanded Abraham (Marty) to leave home and seek the promised land. With a jaunty wave to the heavens, Marty leads Jackie and The Extras away. As the credits roll, they pass through some fairly impressive locations. This movie was filmed in Morocco, and while the desert shots are pretty cool, the few obviously local Extras the producers deigned to employ only serve to make the rest of the bunch look suspiciously Caucasian.
Suddenly, two guys are digging in the sand. They're looking for water, and not finding any. Marty plays the benevolent leader and tells his nephew to distribute the last of the water fairly. He brushes off warnings from the nephew and his wife Sarah (Jackie) that discontent is brewing amongst The Extras. Actually, they're just kind of sitting around listening to these three talk about how discontented they are. They seem pretty peaceful. You're probably wondering why I've been capitalizing "The Extras." It's because the same one hundred appear over and over and over, in every conceivable setting and role, and in pretty much every scene in the entire movie. Forget Martin Landau and Billy Campbell -- these guys are the REAL stars of the show.