I turned to this History Channel production of The Bible with a cynical skepticism. My preconceptions weren’t aided by claims from some news media that the first installment of the series was TV’s most watched event. These claims were later brought into perspective. In fact the initial program was seen by 13 million viewers and outscored other shows that evening. It ranks as cable’s most-watched entertainment telecast this year. It did nearly as well for the History Channel as the record setting “Hatfields & McCoys” last year.
As I watched, my cynicism turned to admiration and I found myself on the edge of my seat, my attention never wavering, and I feel far more informed about the Bible and its characters than ever I thought I would be.
The opening of the superbly filmed and produced miniseries brings us to Noah’s Ark, looking as it should, and ravaged by terrible waters. We see many animals on board, as we thought we might, including zebras and ostriches; but our attention is grabbed by goats, and small cows, and two young and frightened deer, who like all the ark's occupants are being saved from drowning by Noah and his family. Noah explains to his anxious children that God is saving them from a terrible flood. The tempestuous sea fills the screen, and Noah fights to save the storm-ravaged ark from being dashed into submission.
We move from this opening sequence to the story of the seven days of the creation of the world, told in a way even disbelievers won’t disdain, and to the Garden of Eden. This comes as Noah is speaking to his family about the history of the world. The special effects are a thrill to behold. Noah shows that God has already seen too much evil in the hearts of men, as Cain kills Abel. We have a brief glimpse of Adam and Eve, a striking couple. Noah tells us that on the seventh day, God rested. We are told, "There is one father in heaven and one teacher and he is Christ."