Amadeus and I watched the second installment of “The Bible” mini-series on the History Channel last night, mostly because we were too lazy to press the button on the remote control, which says a lot about us I’m afraid. It’s just that sometimes, the TV will be on, then we’ll get into other projects, and before you know it, time has passed and we look up and realize that someone’s been trying to sell us a “Miracle Bra” for the past two hours. That’s kind of what happened last night, only with Abraham and Moses instead of cleavage. Hearing God’s voice makes you look up from what you’re doing, even if God sounds a lot like a disc jockey on the smooth jazz station.
I’m warning you now, we’re both heathens, so if you’re easily offended, you may want to head over to a more reverent blog (which, come to think of it, is almost any blog). For two people who were raised in such religious households (albeit very different types of religions), at this point, we’re both pretty certain that we’re headed for Hell, and we’ve come to terms with that. Actually, we think we may have already been there.
Sadly, last night’s production wasn’t a very good one, but we cut the writers some slack because they’re trying to cram thousands of years into ten hours, and a third of those hours are commercials. We were hoping for some Super Bowl caliber sponsors, like Doritos and Budweiser, but instead, got mostly Wal-Mart and Christian Mingle. But despite the gazillions of ads, the sub-par script, the huge gaps in the narrative, and the weird casting (i.e., Moses looks like a bloated alcoholic), we were sucked into the show, because no matter how badly you screw it up, there are just no better stories than the ones in the Bible.
We watched it like we were watching college basketball, cheering and whooping and booing and talking to the TV as though the actors could hear us. “Don’t look back!” we yelled at Lot’s wife, but of course she didn’t listen, and became a giant salt lick.
We were very disappointed in the angels in the story, who were more like Ninja warriors than celestial beings. No wings, no halos, no flying, but they could sure kick ass. Still, we were longing for a little more CGI and maybe a harp or two.
At one point, Amadeus had to go to the store, and I brought him up to speed when he got back. “Okay, so Abraham and Sarah couldn’t have kids, so she suggested that Abraham go ahead and marry her handmaiden, Hagar, who I think is one of Sammy Hagar’s relatives. God gave them the go-ahead and Abraham got Hagar pregnant and out popped Ishmael. But even though Sarah was acting all cool with it, she really wasn’t. She and Hagar started fighting, and then Sarah got pregnant after all, and she had a son too, so Abraham just sent ol’ Hagar and their kid out into the desert to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. I’ll bet you money that he didn’t pay her any child support, either.”
We turned back to the screen. At this point, God had sent Abraham up the mountain to murder Isaac, the child He blessed him with, his miracle kid. Sarah’s crying, Abraham’s crying, little Isaac’s crying, then Abraham goes to plunge the knife into his son’s heart and BAM! Invisible Angel Intervention. It was all a little sketchy on the show, and the segment ended rather abruptly, so I explained to Amadeus, “See? God was just testing Abraham’s faith. It was all kind of a trick–the angel moved the knife at the last minute. Abraham sacrificed a lamb instead of his son, and from that point on, all Jewish guys had their wee-wees circumcised, as a covenant to God.” Amadeus was trying to follow this logic, but I could see that it was all a little confusing, the way it’s been confusing thousands of people for thousands of years. For a moment we pondered how psychologically damaging all of this must have been to Abraham and his family, but by then they’d moved onto the story of Moses.
“Oh, boy!” I said, “I love this one!” My childhood was flashing before my eyes. I slept through most all of my religious school classes, but I could never get enough of the stories. Try as they might, the Brothers Grimm couldn’t come close to all of the magic and weirdness. “Didn’t you think this was the coolest stuff when you were a kid?” I squee-ed to my husband. “Princesses and Kings and giants and talking bushes and sticks that turned into snakes? It was amazing! Best stories ever!” He agreed.
We felt awfully bad for poor, puffy Moses, who thought he was Egyptian royalty, only to discover that he was a lowly Jew, rescued from a basket on a river. It’s akin to growing up believing you were a Kardashian, then finding out that you were, well, me. Moses started out rather buff, bald and handsome but as soon as he found out he was Jewish, blammo! He became all shleppy-looking and downtrodden. It was very sad.
Amadeus and I talked about what shite lives people had back then. Moses worked his ass off, leading his people out of slavery and into the desert to wander around in the sand and heat for forty years, only to die at the border of the Promised Land. We watched as he parted the Red Sea, and longed for Charlton Heston, because not only did he part seas much better, but looked about 5000 times handsomer doing it. Plus, there were no chariots in this production, which really bummed us out. There’s something so dramatic about watching soldiers and horses drown.
As Mo climbed Mount Sinai to fetch the Ten Commandments, as the wind blasted and lightning flashed, we wondered aloud why God couldn’t make things just a tiny bit easier for him. For some reason, in those days, one couldn’t just go for a pleasant day of mountain climbing and commandment getting– everything had to be a big, theatrical deal. At the same time, the writers omitted a lot of really fun details in this version of events, like the whole part about Moses’ hair turning white, and the fact that everyone was down at the foot of the mountain partying and worshipping a Golden Calf while he was suffering at the summit. They left out his big temper tantrum and the tablet smashing, probably because it was time for more commercials.
When “The Bible” returned, they showed previews for the upcoming episode. I’m pretty pumped, because it features Samson and Delilah, and Samson has these incredible dreadlocks. I’m sort of hoping that he sings some Bob Marley tunes, but you just never know.