So NBC launched a mid-season replacement drama tonight that was deemed not good enough for the original fall schedule. The Book of Daniel is about an Episcopal priest who converses occasionally with Jesus. Interesting premise, and obviously close to home for me. It could have worked if not for a few factors. Well, lots of factors, to be more precise.
First, the whole talking to God thing. Joan of Arcadia (CBS) just got canceled, and the idea is a straight rip off of that. It's not even a different creative take on the concept. (Or maybe the writers thought, "Hey, instead of God, let's have him talk to Jesus!" Now that's really thinking.)
Then second, there's the whole "18 different sub-plots going on at once, several of them with a humorous twist" flavor ripped off directly from Desperate Housewives (ABC). Again, the cloning is obvious, and because the plot is not so much woven as stapled together, what was a seamless tapestry on Desperate Housewives that drew you into the story becomes a hodge podge of first grade crayon drawings that leaves you wondering why they bothered.
And never mind the sheer volume of storylines, marvel at the utter predictability.
Gay son? Check.
Oblivious grandfather bishop who fails to see it despite many over the top hints? Check. (Even while he's boffing his (female) assisting/suffragan bishop as his wife suffers from Alzheimer's...)
Caucasian stereotypical Jesus? Check. (Really, they couldn't have gone any more white bread middle America hippie Jesus than this...)
Rebel daughter selling drugs? Check.
Hypocritical father priest hooked on prescription painkillers while chastising daughter for illegal drug behavior? Check.
Bumbling priest bungles marital counseling? Check.
Embezzlement of $3M from church? Check.
Catholic church linked to mob to help trace stolen money? Check. (I mean, c'mon people, could this have been any more stereotypical?)
Cool stained glass graphic transition at every commercial break? Check.
Then, while we're at it, why not try to squeeze a few laughs out of Alzheimer's and a few dozen other storylines in a bewildering array of stuff that viewers somehow have to make sense of.
Overall, it wasn't terrible, but it was horribly derivative, uncreative and a sad waste of a good opportunity to get some halfway decent religious content into mainstream TV.
We'll see if it settles down (or even gets a chance to...)
Update: See more news/ alternate view on the conservatively oriented Crosswalk Ministries site. Of course, they get some details wrong. The adopted 16 year old son is not sleeping with the bishop's daughter - he's sleeping with the Senior Warden's daughter. (Of course, if he were sleeping with his adoptive sister he'd be sleeping with the bishop's granddaughter...) Can't expect those evangelicals to understand the convoluted ins and outs of Episcopal hierarchy...