It seems all you have to do is make a series about the Bible and you have a ratings bonanza. History Channel's 10-part series on the Bible drew a larger audience than American Idol. The series literally chronicles the Bible from beginning to end, with the husband-and-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey recreating many of the scenes, and finding their "Jesus" in a 33-year old Portuguese model, Diogo Morgado. Of course, this shouldn't have come as a surprise given the huge success of Mel Gibson's Passion a few years back, but apparently Hollywood execs were still left "dumbstruck."
It seems that the so-called "fact based" cable channels have increasingly turned to religious, supernatural and hot button domestic themes in recent years to boost television ratings National Geographic has been running all kinds of specials from Doomsday Preppers to Omens of the Apocalypse, which I'm sure would make the founders of the society role over in their graves. History Channel had been relatively immune from this virus, but it too has succumbed to the ratings bug, heavily pushing this series, and given that it is paying off big time, I'm sure we will see more of these religious-based specials.
It seems we can't get too much of that "old time religion" given the astonishing growth of "Megachurches" across the country and the attempt by many state and local legislatures to inject religion and Biblical theories into the classroom. Guys like David Barton actively rewrite history through rose-colored evangelical religious lenses, as I've noted before, influencing high school curricula in Texas, and in turn the country.
Rather than act as a voice of reason, time honored institutions like National Geographic seem to be feeding into this religious awakening by running specials that appeal directly to this ever-growing audience. Now History Channel has one-upped NG by updating and expanding Dino De Laurentiis' The Bible, which John Huston directed and played Noah.
Where all this goes remains to be seen.