‘The Bible’ could pull off miracle at Emmys

Currently, the History Channel’s 10-part “The Bible” sits in only eighth place to win Best Movie/Miniseries in our prediction center with 50/1 odds. Four of our editors currently include it in their predictions of the six nominees.

Are we underestimating its chances?

Remember, last year the History Channel ambushed the Emmy race with “Hatfields and McCoys,” a period western about the famous, generations-long feud. That three-parter earned a surprising 16 nominations, including Best Movie/Miniseries. It ultimately won five, including acting wins for Kevin Costner and Tom Berenger.

Like “Hatfields,” “The Bible” had blockbuster ratings. It premiered on March 3 with 13.1 million viewers, which made it the top-rated entertainment broadcast on cable in 2013. And its finale on March 31 was not far off that number, drawing 11.7 million viewers.

Similarly sweeping, religiously themed epics have done well at the Emmys in the past, including Miniseries nominees “Moses” (1996), “Joan of Arc” (1999), “Jesus” (2000), and “The Pillars of the Earth” (2011). “Joseph” won the prize in 1995.

Possibly hindering the miniseries’s chances will be its reviews: it scored a tepid 44 on MetaCritic based on 13 critics, including Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly, who called it a “cheesefest,” and Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times, who described it as a “a tableau of great biblical moments that doesn’t convey why they’re great.”

Variety’s Brian Lowry was kinder, noting that the miniseries is “told with great earnesness” and “hits only a few conspicuously awkward notes.”

The reviews may not be a fatal blow to “The Bible’s” Emmy chances, however. “The Kennedys” — a 2011 miniseries initially intended for the History Channel but moved to Reelz Channel due to controversy over its depiction of the powerful political family — received so-so reviews, but nevertheless earned 10 Emmy nominations and four wins, including Best Movie/Mini Actor for Barry Pepper.

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“The Bible” is produced by the husband-and-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Burnett has never been an Emmy contender for scripted fare, but he did win a Special Class Emmy for “Survivor” in 2001 (before the Reality-Competition category was created). He has an additional 10 Primetime Emmy bids for reality fare, as well as a pair of Daytime Emmys for Best Lifestyle Program for “Martha.”

Downey — who also appears in “The Bible” as Jesus’s mother, Mary — has two previous Emmy nominations for Best Drama Actress in the Christian-themed “Touched By an Angel,” losing to Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”) in 1997 and Christine Lahti (“Chicago Hope”) in 1998.

One thought on “‘The Bible’ could pull off miracle at Emmys

  1. You are far too generous as well as vastly overestimating its potential. It’s more like 1000th. “Jesus” in 2000 was an absolute masterpiece, well written, brilliantly cast with people who actually resembled semites and displaying an amazing amount of Jewish sensibility and humor, for the first time ever. The Downey-Burnett travesty was a cheap low budget embarrassment that pandered to the very worst in southern evangelical conference bigotry. A religious and political nightmare done utterly cluelessly, as if “Jesus” in 2000 had never existed in their world. Obviously they never took even a glance at it or Scorsese’s brilliant “Last Temptation of Christ”, and instead gave the retro-fundamentalist world what they wanted… a watered-down “Passion of the Christ” with 1950’s sensibilities. Even John Huston’s 1966 “The Bible- In the Beginning” was brilliantly better. The utterly clueless casting and makeup of an obvious Obama clone as Satan was priceless and highly indicative of the mindset of all involved. If you’re going to take on such subject matter, you need to know your context and history and have a larger budget than a season of “Touched By An Angel” and “Survivor”. Emmy? The producers need to stick with fantasy, game, homage, and reality shows. Someday this story will be told again, and hopefully far better than this patronizing disaster that only proves the faithful are so desperate for anything remotely edifying, they’ll swallow pablum whole with glass bottle, metal lid, AND spoon and not choke.

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