KTN have done the almost-unthinkable. After easing out the current season of local soap Lies That Bind, they’ve replaced it with a distinctly different series on the 8-9PM prime time slot that’s usually and inexplicably reserved for terrible foreign daytime soap operas (whoever started this trend should be ashamed). Yes, Mondays will see KTN airing The Bible, a brand new epic adaptation of stories from the Bible done in 10 episodes.
The other interesting point to note is that this is the first time a local station gotten first pickings on a top rated foreign show – The Bible first aired on The History Channel on 3rd March 2013 all the way to the Easter weekend. The normal trend would be that they’d pick up a show a couple of years after the premiere long after we’ve downloaded it or bought it from our favourite pirate series/movie vendor.
The mere fact that the series is developed by Roma Downey (who starred in Touched By An Angel) and super-producer Mark Burnett (responsible for Survivor, Shark Tank, The Voice etc.) tells me that we should expect a somewhat diluted adaptation of the Bible stories with more focus on entertainment than enlightenment. With the entire series spanning only 10 hours in total, it does not follow an A-Z format but selectively picks stories along the way. The trailer reveals a lot focus on the things that actually make epics watchable in today’s world – amazing CGI and visual effects, bloody scenes of Spartacus-style violence and a lovely score to top it all off (from none other than the great Hans Zimmer himself). The Bible has also attracted a fairly good amount of controversy with its storylines and other issues such as casting Samson as a black man and making Satan have an uncanny resemblance to an aged version of US President Barack Obama.
Perhaps this is a recognition from KTN that there is a significant percentage of viewing audiences in need of other alternatives apart from cheap Mexican soaps during prime-time. However, only time will tell if The Bible is the kind of alternative these sick-and-tired viewers were looking out for. I think this series is more cut out as a seasonal offering – the Christmas or Easter period would have been the best time to drop this series. KTN should have picked up the cue from The History Channel’s timing and kept this series in the coolers until Mid-November to December.
I’m also curious about how much they spent to acquire rights to this show this soon – probably an arm and a leg through the nose. Would those financial resources been enough to develop a decent local show of our own? An epic perhaps? SABC already had their fun with Shaka Zulu, the Nigerians made a neat adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart – when are we gong to whip up our own classic series? An effort should be made so that local content dominates prime-time and late-night TV slots, something which can only be done with the goodwill of broadcasters.