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NBC Opens the Book of Daniel

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It's ba-ack.

I just saw a preview for this show, in the midst of It's a Wonderful Life. Aidan Quinn seemed suitable, but the tone of the whole thing generally struck me as "Nyah-nyah-nyah". Maybe it was supposed to be, "Look! He's a priest, but his life isn't perfect! Isn't that cuddly? AND he talks to Jesus, who says 'Where did you get the idea I was supposed to be comforting?'" There's something to that part, I guess.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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I resent this show for pushing aside Three Wishes, which, though hamfisted at times, was also becoming a regular Friday-night program for us. Our ONLY regular Friday night program.

Now it's gone. Back to DVDs.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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A presumptuous missive on the AFA protest, over at Zap2It.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Thanks AFA!

If the commercials haven't tempted enough folks (they sure have tempted me to see this), the protest if it goes public, should guarantee a decent crowd of viewers for the pilot. The show might have half a chance. Surely we also remember how well NYPD Blue survived with weak initial advertising and strong regional blackouts.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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More about the show: August article from Beliefnet, mostly an interview with writer/creator Jack Kenny.

Kenny claims to be basing "Daniel"'s Episcopalian family on his partner Michael's family:

"This is a real good definition of Episcopalian: Michael once said to his mother, `God bless you, Mommy,' and she said, `We don't say that. We don't proselytize. Just keep that to yourself. Order another martini and keep it quiet. Don't run around blessing everybody.'"

His model for the church comes from All Saints in Pasadena. Make of that what you will.

Here are a couple of interesting statements:

"Organized religion is, to me, almost the same organism as the Mafia," he says. "It's got its internal politics, it's got rules that it follows, rules that it doesn't follow, who's allowed to do what to who. It's got skeletons in the closet and scandals and all those things. It skirts the law because it can. They do it legitimately, where the Mafia does it illegitimately. I always wanted to explore religion the way `The Sopranos' explored the Mafia, through the focal lens of a family."

And continuting the Sopranos parallel:

Similarly, when asked whether Jesus really needs to be in this show, he points to Dr. Melfi, noting she's not essential to the plot of "The Sopranos" but provides insight into Tony Soprano's thoughts that just isn't available elsewhere.

On the plus side,

he says Fr. Daniel will over come his painkiller addiction.

Perhaps with the help of the Jesus in his own mind. As you can see, I remain skeptical., but we'll see.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Heh, I'm in an entirely different dioces than you are. I'll bet there are a lot more folks like Daniel and his family around here than where you might be. Ready made comic relief for me. Further, my parish is an oasis for those fleeing particular spiritual oddities that have manifested themselves in formerly long loved parishes. From the stories I've heard, it would be delightful indeed for Jesus to literally invade the space of some of the rectors around here. For these reasons I am eagerly awaiting this series.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Amen!

Or even the bishop's space, perhaps.

From the stories I've heard, it would be delightful indeed for Jesus to literally invade the space of some of the rectors around here.


Yours truly,

ABP

No one with a good car needs to be justified. -- Hazel Motes

In the final end, he won the wars, after losin' every battle.-- Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind

Hot Rod Anglican blog ...

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Here's a little more information on the nature of Jesus' "intervention" on this show...

The closest Daniel comes to a higher plane of thought is his frequent conversations with Jesus (Garret Dillahunt), whom no else can see. And what would Jesus do? Who knows? All Daniel gets from Jesus are insipid platitudes ("Life is hard, Daniel, for everyone. That's why you get a nice reward at the end of it.") At the very least, Jesus should be telling the reverend to stop lying to his father about Peter's sexual orientation. Then again, that's something that should be obvious to the minister to begin with.

Creator-writer Jack Kenny throws issues into the air like confetti and is content merely to see them swirl in the air without consequence. There needs to be more gravitas about Daniel, something not in evidence from Quinn's take on the role or director James Frawley's perspective. The series is limited, but the vision of those involved with it shouldn't be.

"Life is hard, Daniel, for everyone. That's why you get a nice reward at the end of it."

Whoo, boy! That is SOOOO Jesus....

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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That's not the kind of invasion I was hoping for, or wishing on wayward rectors. Not at all. Still, I'm curious and have faith that a good TV idea can evolve into a good TV show even when initial examples are weak. It can happen!? :blink: I hope it does.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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The Episcopal Diocese of Washington (my former diocese, incidentally) has launched The Blog of Daniel.

If the comments are any indication, the church's new tagline could be "Episcopalians: the Christians that other Christians love to condemn to hell." But at any rate, some interesting reflections from the folks writing the blog itself.

ETA: If you like what Jim Naughton's doing with this blog, please email him to say so. I did, mostly to commend him for the work of engagement and discernment he's doing, and got a lovely note back thanking me for the encouragement. What with all the nastiness swirling around, I think any little bit helps.

Edited by kebbie

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Why do they always put the God shows on Friday? Is it because they think people interested in religion-themed things are too dorkish to have Friday plans?


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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What with all the nastiness swirling around, I think any little bit helps.

Maybe so, but I was heartened to see that some of that nastiness is coming from TV critics rather than from the usual suspects. For instance, Tom Shales, who loved the lame Jesus miniseries a few years ago, but who sees right through this latest nonsense:

There ought to be a worse punishment than cancellation for a show that tries this hard to be offensive and, even at that crass task, manages to fail.

At least two NBC affiliates have decided not to air "Book of Daniel" (premiering at 9 tonight on Channel 4 here) on the grounds that it's objectionable, and whenever local stations do that, the banned show becomes automatically sympathetic and inviting. That would seem truer than ever in this age of the Patriot Act and a Federal Communications Commission running amok with fines and other penalties for using naughty words and showing naughty pictures.

But "Book of Daniel" just barely merits First Amendment protection (zing--ed.), flaunting its edginess with such wince-inducing contrivances as a teenage daughter who stuffs her teddy bears with pot, a grandma with Alzheimer's who interrupts Sunday dinner to complain that her husband is "always showing me his penis," a wife whose lesbian affair with her husband's secretary started when the husband insisted both women join him in a threesome, and an Episcopal priest who pops Vicodins like Tic-Tacs and regularly converses with the living image of Jesus Christ. ...

Perhaps realizing they've created a crop of characters who are irredeemably mean, venal and idiotic, the writers try to tell us these people are really sweethearts -- not by depicting good qualities through action but simply by having them primitively vouch for one another. "He's a good boy," mom says of the cautious and confused Peter. "You're a good man," the priest is told by a golf crony. "She's a good girl," Jesus says of Grace even after she's arrested for selling marijuana, and later, of the priest's bigoted, oafish father: "He's a good man, Daniel. Everybody's different."

Even the sadistically malicious Adam is called "a good boy" before the first two hours are over.

This is not sophisticated storytelling.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I'm with Shales on this one, though he gets a few character & plot details wrong--

the daughter says she only sells pot, she doesn't use it, and nothing we're shown in this ep. contradicts that. Ellyn Burstyn's bishop didn't seem particularly "hip" to me--she seemed clueless about Daniel's prescription drugs, and tried unsuccessfully to correct his sappy sermons; she may be hypocritical, however, if she's having an affair with Daniel's father, also a bishop--as suggested by a scene late in the 2nd hour.

Catholics don't come off too well, either, since

the "voice" announcing the death of Daniel's brother-in-law is that of Daniel's friend, the local Catholic priest, who has used his Mafia connections to track down "Charlie." The Mafia boys retrieve the money, too--on the condition that Daniel's church use their construction firm to build the school.

Sheesh.

According to the beliefnet.com interview with writer Jack Kenny, the reason the friendly, but not very helpful Jesus keeps turning up to talk with Daniel, is that he's not really Jesus, he's just Daniel's idea of Jesus.

To add to the excitement, it turns out that writer Jack Kenny is a local boy--attended a Raleigh, NC, high school--so the Raleigh NBC affiliate covered the story with added interest. As of this morning, their non-scientific website poll "Did you find 'The Book of Daniel' offensive?" was running 32% 'yes,' 57% 'no,' and 10% 'didn't watch.' Percentages may have changed by the time you read this.

"The show was created and is written by Millbrook High School graduate Jack Kenny, and he said he isn't out to teach life lessons or religion. He said he wants his stories to entertain, and perhaps get people thinking.

"It was written with love and affection and true belief in these tenants," Kenny said. "There's conflict and drama in it because that's what you do when you tell a story. What does Daniel have to fight to achieve his goal of becoming a better man, a better father and a better minister?"

Tenants?

Make of that what you will. It sounds a bit disingenuous to me. The quote I really love comes from an Episcopal priest who said "he is pleased, because his denomination doesn't get much exposure on television." Yes, every church wants to be fictionally portrayed like this.

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Like Beth, I wasn't particularly fond of the Catholic priest - mob connection. But the worst part: it's boring.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Tenants?

I'm guessing he meant or actually said "tenets", a word the reporter did not know, and so interpreted as "tennants."

Ugh.


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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In my haste, I screwed up the VCR and only caught the last half hour live. I wonder how many other churches could be sent up this way? What little I saw provoked light chuckles on occasion, but also a curiousity about this conception of the Episcopal Church.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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In my haste, I screwed up the VCR and only caught the last half hour live. I wonder how many other churches could be sent up this way? What little I saw provoked light chuckles on occasion, but also a curiousity about this conception of the Episcopal Church.

If you're really curious about the first 90 min., PM me and I'll send you my videotape.

I suppose almost any denomination can be lampooned by people who know it well. Garrison Keillor sends up Lake Wobegon Lutherans regularly on "A Prairie Home Companion." My brother married into a Canadian Mennonite family & now has a boatload of Mennonite jokes. I know a lot of jokes that are only amusing to Presbyterians (or former Presbyterians). Some Presbys. held a "clown eucharist" which made the "Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction" page of the current Wittenburg Door. But generally, one has to be familiar with the church to really "get" the jokes.

So usually, TV churches tend to be dumbed down or smoothed out to unrecognizability, like Rev. Camden's vaguely protestant church on 7th Heaven. Except for the Roman Catholic church, which is either beyond reproach, satirized, or e-e-evil.

Among other things, I found myself wondering how Fr. Daniel's bishop had so much time to check on his sermons every week (apparently). Even though she mentioned having to visit another church at one point, in the real world, I'd guess Daniel was already in hot water, because normally we see our bishop maybe once a year when he does baptisms and/or confirmations. Otherwise, unless it's a special occasion or someone's in big trouble, he's visiting every other church in the diocese, and doing a lot of other things.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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I suppose almost any denomination can be lampooned by people who know it well. Garrison Keillor sends up Lake Wobegon Lutherans regularly on "A Prairie Home Companion." My brother married into a Canadian Mennonite family & now has a boatload of Mennonite jokes. I know a lot of jokes that are only amusing to Presbyterians (or former Presbyterians). Some Presbys. held a "clown eucharist" which made the "Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction" page of the current Wittenburg Door. But generally, one has to be familiar with the church to really "get" the jokes.

Of course. Keillor does an even better job on the Plymouth Bretheren (in which he was raised) in some of his early books. My point is that the charicature of a denomination is the intersting message that gets through. In this case, a chaotic, anything goes church in which much of the thinly disguised false spirituality goes right over the heads of the parishioners. This does not describe my particular church, nor I bet, does it describe yours either. I'm wondering that if they keep this up, it will end up playing to the biases that most folks in my parish have towards "those" parishes in the diocese. Better yet, could it urge a reevaluation of the culture of the odd parish of which the lampoon hits a little too close to home.

Among other things, I found myself wondering how Fr. Daniel's bishop had so much time to check on his sermons every week (apparently). Even though she mentioned having to visit another church at one point, in the real world, I'd guess Daniel was already in hot water, because normally we see our bishop maybe once a year when he does baptisms and/or confirmations. Otherwise, unless it's a special occasion or someone's in big trouble, he's visiting every other church in the diocese, and doing a lot of other things.

I've come to expect grievious mischaracterisations like that ever since that great scene in Footloose where the Baptist PK says to her father something about confessing her sins to her preacher. Having grown up Baptist, that was a stunner. It jaded me to that sort of thing.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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As a pastor it is very hard for me to be objective in this kind of thing. Just to show how sensitive I can get, I am amazed that the pastor on 7th Heaven (which I admit I don't watch much) has time to be home so much taking care of his family! Ministry is very time-consuming yet he's always available for whatever family need arises.

But, having said that and acknowledging the Preacher's Kid stereotypes, I still cannot imagine a pastor's family this messed up as Daniel's. I don't think the series will work unless the writers somehow find some normalcy in his family with which we can at least identify as a family. This is the bare minimum. To then show a slice of congregational life with which church-attenders can relate would be an actual series. As it is I only watched the first hour and felt manipulated and exhausted. It is so far from my experience of both family and congregational life that I lost interest. Its kind of like listening to a person with a psychotic illusion


Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Although I don't like the visible Jesus' counsel and theology, it could prove fascinating - IF they get writers on their staff who do pray and have experienced both the moments of God's guidance and the frustrating silences of God.

This would be wonderful, but probably too much to ask for. OTOH, Aaron Sorkin hired Republican consultants a few seasons into "The West Wing", so stranger things have happened.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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BethR wrote:

: My brother married into a Canadian Mennonite family & now has a boatload of Mennonite jokes.

Hey, that means your brother and I are probably related now! Which means you and I are family, too!

Like I always say, when you meet a fellow Mennonite, the question is not WHETHER you are related, but HOW.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The Real Live Preacher reviews "Book of Daniel" for Salon.

He says it is "bad and boring."

He also says:

Pardon me for a moment; I need to talk to my people.

Yo, brothers and sisters in Christ. They weren't making fun of you. It's much worse than that. The folks at NBC don't care about you enough to make fun of you. They don't even know you exist. You are not a part of their world. They want to make money, that's all. This is no great mystery or secret. They're not hypocrites; they're capitalists. ...

Stop taking things so personally. You're giving the rest of us Christians a bad name. Learn to laugh at yourself, or do what I did. Just turn off your TV, look at the person next to you, and say, "Well, that sucked!"

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From Friday's Raleigh News and Observer:

Outcry surprises 'Daniel' creator: Former Raleigh resident Jack Kenny says series about Episcopal priest is just TV

Why am I skeptical when Mr. Kenny says, "It's amazing how religion is such a tremendous hot button in this country." And when he notes on the one hand that some elements of the Webster family at "loosely based" on his partner's Episcopalian family, but then says, "That anything in my personal life should have anything to do with my writing is absurd. I don't think any other person in business or in art would be held to that kind of standard."

Where has he been living?

Episode 2 was no improvement over ep. 1.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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