Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Book of Daniel

No, not that book of Daniel. And no, not you Brother Daniel (just your luck to move beyond the reaches of "civilization" the year they name one for you!). That new television show featuring a painkiller-addicted Episcopal priest who has face-to-face conversations with Jesus, who appears to him but to no one else), and who has a rich alcoholic wife who provides a grand mansion for the rectory (along with a weed-smoking black maid), and who is doing his best to care for his flock, his three kids (one sexually active high school son, a drug-dealing daughter, and a son who is or thinks he is gay). The show also features a Roman Catholic priest connected to the Mafia and a woman bishop (played by Ellen Burstyn), who is having an affair with another bishop (Daniel's father), whose wife is trapped in the deep recesses of Alzheimer's.

It's quite a kick.

If only because the religious right-wing has been so up-in-arms about the show, I wanted to blog about the show -- whose first episode I missed because I was in church celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany (where all liturgically minded folks -- including Episcopalians -- should have been). But I saw the second hour and think I got a fair sense of the show. And I had a long schtick going, when I accidentally tripped the power box connected to my computer and lost the entire thing to God-knows-where.

That's OK, though, because these people do a better job than I (though I thought I pulled off a couple bon mots.). Check out these, and then comment to me about your feelings on the show:

Bag Lady is here;
Real Live Preacher saves me a lot of typing here;
Canon Kendall Harmon raises some wonderful ecclesiastic points (can't they afford to get a churchly adviser?) here;
and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC, has its own blog on the show -- talk about lending some credibility to an artifact of popular culture -- here;
and that leads to a cultural-criticism posting (Monday, 9 January, posting) here.

That's enough for now. But let me know if there's something I ought not to meet.

I, of course, was distressed by the worldly attitude toward sex throughout the show: I was deeply angered by the affair between the bishops -- I mean, come on! Father (not "Reverend") Daniel's easy acceptance of the fact that people coming to him for pre-marital counseling were living together -- and then joking about it as "living in sin" -- was not amusing. And his parental failure in not taking his one son's promiscuity more seriously was disappointing (he's a very loving father, but there's a difference between being a parent and being a pal).

I also didn't like Jesus: Oops, that might sound wrong. I thought that the portrayal of Jesus was way too beacher-type: Why not a good old (ok: young) Middle East type who isn't quite so androgynously hunky?

Still, I'm going to watch again. This show is so much better than other "pastor" series that it deserves more than one shot. When I compare it to Seventh Heaven, I am left with nothing to say. Can anyone tell me how that piece of mushy bread stays on the air? If that man and his daughter were my pastors, I'd turn Hindu for sure. And then there was that Dan Ackroyd silliness a few years ago. This looks pretty good, even beside the Vicar of Dibley!

Let me hear what you think.


Johann Cornelius said...

Dwight, I agree that the show has some problems, but perhaps some potential. I made a point of watching the pilot specifically because of the uproar from religious conservatives; gotta know what all the fuss is about. Decided to post my impressions as well.

Dwight P. said...

Go read it, folks. Johann makes some good points.

Thanks for your comment.