“A.D. The Bible Continues” premiered last Sunday and did quite well in the ratings. In fact, it was the highest rated show on television on Easter and even found itself as the #1 trending topic on Twitter (#ADTheSeries). One unique thing the producers of the show are trying is a web-only companion program called “Beyond A.D.” It’s filmed every Tuesday night in Valencia CA for the next 11 weeks and is similar in style to “The Talking Dead,” a webshow for “The Walking Dead” (Note: if you’re in the area and want to be in the studio audience, let me know, as I can get you a link for tickets). Each half-hour episode will feature a faith based guest, a celebrity, and a musical act. Hosting the show is Jason Kennedy from E!.
I drove down to Valencia for the opening taping of “Beyond A.D.” last Tuesday and had a chance before the show to talk with two of the evening’s special guests–Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner and Israel Houghton. Warner told me that he loved the first episode of “A.D.,” noting that it generated “amazing dialogue” in his family. The show “A.D.” isn’t just trying to depict what Christians believe, but it causes people to look internally and see where faith lies. I asked him about the importance of dialogue, especially in the internet age; Warner noted that the reason dialogue is extremely important is because “we want to tell our opinions” instead of listening to others.
There are some similarities to the role of Peter in leading the apostles and Warner’s role of playing quarterback for an NFL team. For him, it was being a leader in any way he could. Both of the roles have amazing responsibility due to the fact that they’re representing something bigger than themselves. There’s great risk and great challenge, but where else would you want to be? Warner added, “I didn’t take [the role of leader] lightly–I wanted to impact people.” The biggest lesson Warner has learned from the book of Acts is a simple one: What are you willing to do for your faith?
Israel Houghton and I chatted about music for a few minutes–he shared that the role of music in a show like “A.D.” is vital. In fact, it becomes an additional actor in the presentation. You could look at the score with the wrong music and not be as moved. With that, however, comes an immense temptation to force emotion when it’s not necessary or overdo it. Houghton likened it to going on a mission trip and having such a great experience that upon your return, you talk to others “in an amplified way just because you’re in tune with what happened.” The problem is that most folks weren’t on the trip with you and don’t fully understand. Thus, you have to take yourself out of the situation when composing a tune, knowing that a single violin note can carry as much (or even more) weight than a massive buildup of noise.
“Beyond A.D.” offers a recap of the preceding week’s episode and takes time to answer viewer questions sent via Twitter. A sneak peek of the upcoming show is shown, followed by a musical number by that week’s guest.
I have seen the second episode and will briefly say that there are some extremely powerful scenes in it–especially involving the disciples as they try to make sense of Jesus’ death and disappearance from the tomb. There’s still an error with the placing of the nail marks in Jesus’ hands, but I didn’t find it to be overly jarring. Caiaphas and Pilate are at odds with each other and the relationship becomes quite precarious. It all builds up to a rather shocking ending that provides a glimpse of the trouble the disciples will face while Jesus offers them hope before He returns to heaven.
“A.D.” will be shown tonight from 8-10 PM on NBC (8 PM encore presentation of Episode 1; 9 PM for tonight’s episode).
“Beyond A.D.” is available now to view online at this link: http://www.nbc.com/ad-the-bible-continues/video/beyond-ad-week-1/2857200. Look in the audience shots–you might see me with my hat!