Television Reviews

A.D. The Bible Continues a Brilliant, Beautiful Journey

<i>A.D. The Bible Continues</i> a Brilliant, Beautiful Journey

Back in 2013, the husband and wife duo of Mark Burnett and Roma Downy produced a miniseries that chronicled the greatest stories of the Bible. The first episode attracted more than 13.1 million viewers, the largest cable audience of that year, with follow-up episodes receiving equally impressive numbers. The Bible was nominated for three Emmy Awards, and parts of the project even went on to become the feature film, Son of God. Yet despite all their success, Burnett and Downey refused to rest on their laurels. This Easter Sunday, NBC will launch a follow-up miniseries to The Bible phenomenon, once again produced by the husband and wife pair: A.D. The Bible Continues.

At first glance, A.D. The Bible Continues looks like the shameless rehashing of an old triumph. These days, anything that’s considered even a modest success usually has a sequel going within the hour. So it’s not only surprising, but gratifying, to discover A.D. doesn’t just break new ground, it does so with some skillful storytelling. The first episode takes place during Jesus’ crucifixion. We see the trial, we hear the familiar words spoken between Christ and his accusers, but it all comes with one notable twist.

Unlike most retellings of the Easter story, events aren’t seen from Christ’s perspective, but rather from the viewpoint of those around Him. In fact, the first episode of A.D. is largely broken up into exploring its three different factions: The Romans, the Sanhedrin, and the Disciples. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate (Vincent Regan), is trying consolidate the empire’s hold over Jerusalem, while the Sanhedrin, led by Caiaphas (Richard Coyle), are trying to maintain their cultural heritage in the face of a hostile occupation. As for the Disciples, we get to see their inner turmoil as they struggle with the aftermath of Jesus’ death. The whole thing plays out like an episode of Game of Thrones and is fascinating to watch, plunging the viewer headfirst into the moral, spiritual, and political machinations of the day.

That’s not to say Jesus isn’t the focus of the story. Audiences witness His brutal crucifixion, as well as His victorious resurrection, but it’s done in a way that brings new understanding and appreciation to an old story. It also helps that the rest of A.D. is pretty well done. The acting is great, the scenery looks good (with the exception of a minor green screen error in my viewing), and the whole project is kept Biblically accurate. Honestly, there’s a lot here for a Christian viewer to love.

Just like The Bible, A.D. The Bible Continues does have its flaws. Some scenes, such as the earthquake, can be a little overdramatic, and certain effects, like the tearing of the temple veil, could also have gotten more work. Mainly though, A.D. has a bad habit of using just too much dialogue. A scene of the disciples mourning Jesus in silence, for example, would have be vastly superior to tedious conversation we get instead. Thankfully, what the series does well vastly outweighs any shortcomings audiences may encounter.

From the outside, it’s easy to be critical of A.D. The Bible Continues. The miniseries looks like every other clichéd, religious program that panders to Christian viewers. Nothing could be further from the truth. If given the opportunity, A.D. The Bible Continues will take viewers on a mesmerizing journey through the Easter story, before leading them boldly into the New Testament.

*A.D. The Bible Continues premiers this Sunday on NBC.

**This Article First Published 4/3/2015