THE REST I'M NOT SO SURE
I watched the opening episode of NBC’s the Book of Daniel tonight to see what all the fuss was about. Also since the virtuous father in law is an Episcopal priest, I’m sure the topic will come up at some point. First, the portrayal of Jesus is not in my opinion blasphemous-rather he was shown as a real presence in the life of the protagonist-Rev Daniel Webster (yes we get it Daniel Webster who out debated the devil himself).
The dialogs with Jesus are an attempt to deal with the burdens of life that the minister finds overwhelming. Jesus’ advice is-well-Christian, no place to find offense there. However almost everything else especially because it’s so ubiquitous is at least cumulatively offensive.
The two hour premier begins with the teenage daughter busted for selling pot. She needs the money to purchase a computer and software upon which to indulge her formidable talents in a stylized form of Japanese animation. Of the two brothers one is gay and the other an adopted Chinese is an instigator and actually quite funny. The minister and his bishop are both Vicodin addicts and the ministers wife is an alcoholic. The neighbors are bullies and racists. The brother in law embezzles the entire church school building fund. The wife’s sister is a lesbian-leading to the funniest line of the night-“why are you surprised she did go to Vassar.
In order to recover the church’s money he must engage the mafia connections of the local catholic priest.
There was some humor particularly the rough verbal play between the siblings but more of the show is a high brow sort of soap opera. Somehow thought there are possibilities-the primary theme of very flawed but not mean or vicious people trying to live a Christian life is a pretty good one. The show will either evolve to be more madcap in which the characters remain one dimensional but funnier or the characters can display more depth and ambiguity in which case the humor will have to be more restrained and subtle. Either could work but right now the show resides in the gaping hole between these possibilities.