March 3, History Channel, check local listings
Not since Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 landmark Jesus of Nazareth have television audiences been treated to a biblical adaptation of this scale. Executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey—who also stars as the Virgin Mary—bring us The Bible, a visually arresting and ambitious 10-part miniseries airing on History Channel.
Covering the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation, The Bible is beautifully shot and masterfully rendered. Christian audiences are in for a treat.
Thursdays, 9:30 p.m., NBC
Comedies that centered on the family used to be a fixture of television. From June and Ward Cleaver to Maggie and Jason Seaver, the family unit was fertile ground for laughs. Then, by the mid-’90s, familycentered sitcoms seemed to fall out of fashion. Thanks, in part, to new shows like 1600 Penn, they’re staging a comeback, but in this case, to mixed results.
In a style reminiscent of The Office, 1600 Penn, with its single-camera approach, is a look into the Gilchrists, the first family of the United States. Led by veteran comedic actors Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman, as the president and first lady, respectively, the two juggle the day-to-day difficulties of domestic and international affairs with the ups and downs of life with four intelligent, highenergy children.
Some troublesome story lines—such as the president’s pregnant and unmarried eldest daughter—mar this otherwise appealing and, at times, gentle look at what happens when one’s professional and personal lives are center stage for the world to judge.
Still, 1600 Penn has heart. It shows viewers that when life hurts, love heals. And family—imperfect as they might be—is a refuge from a cynical world.
Thursdays, 8 p.m., ABC
I’m suspicious of anything that combines game-show hysteria and food preparation. Then, on a whim, I tuned in to ABC’s The Taste, which features Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey as food experts. Based on a blind taste-test from a field of talented chefs and home cooks, they try to separate the average from the exemplary. Each judge will mentor teams that will compete against one another.
Just as The Voice one-upped (the now stale) American Idol, The Taste is a fresh spin on culinary competition shows. But what makes it so worthwhile is the care it takes to showcase the competitors’ personal stories. Poverty, illness, and other struggles did not deter hopefuls from this moment, and to see their lifelong dreams materialize—especially in front of these formidable judges—is truly inspiring television. Dig in!