The Book of Daniel (TV series)

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The Book of Daniel
Format Comedy-drama
Written by Jack Kenny
Starring Aidan Quinn
Susanna Thompson
Christian Campbell
Alison Pill
Ivan Shaw
Ellen Burstyn
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8 (4 unaired)
Production
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) NBCUniversal Television Studio
Sony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run January 6, 2006 – January 20, 2006

The Book of Daniel is a television series broadcast on NBC. The network promoted it as a serious drama about Christians and the Christian faith, but it was controversial with some Christians. The show had been proposed for NBC's 2005 fall line-up, but was rescheduled as a 2006 mid-season replacement. The program premiered on January 6, 2006 in the US and was scheduled to air in thirteen episodes on Friday nights. NBC called the show "edgy", "challenging", and "courageous" in its promotional material. On January 24, 2006, a spokeswoman for NBC announced the show had been dropped.[1]

Synopsis[edit]

Set in the fictional town of Newbury in Westchester County, New York, the main character is the Reverend Daniel Webster (Aidan Quinn), an unconventional Episcopal priest who is addicted to narcotic painkillers while his wife Judith (Susanna Thompson) fights her dependence on mid-day martinis.

Struggling to be a good husband, father, and minister, Webster regularly sees and talks with a traditional western, white-skinned, white-robed and bearded Jesus (Garret Dillahunt), who nonetheless is rather unconventional. Daniel's Jesus appears only to him and openly questions modern interpretations of church teachings, reminding Daniel of his own strengths and weaknesses.

The Webster family is rounded out by a 23-year-old gay son Peter (Christian Campbell), a 16-year-old daughter Grace (Alison Pill), who is arrested for drug possession in the pilot, and Adam (Ivan Shaw), a 16-year-old adopted Chinese son who dates the daughter of one of Daniel's parishioners, the latter of whom harbors anti-Asian prejudices. Peter's twin brother, Jimmy, had died of leukemia two years prior to the beginning of the series; Christian Campbell also played the role of Jimmy in flashback scenes in one of the episodes never aired on television, but included in the DVD release.

When Daniel's brother-in-law Charlie absconds with church funds and abandons his family, his sister-in-law enters a lesbian relationship with Charlie's bisexual secretary. Bishop Beatrice Congreve (Ellen Burstyn) is involved with Daniel's married father (James Rebhorn) a retired bishop who, despite his gruff exterior, is troubled by dealing with his wife's Alzheimer's disease.

Controversy[edit]

The New York Times reported NBC had difficulty selling advertising during the program, even after offering significant rate discounts, because of controversial content.[2]

Stations refuse to air[edit]

Eight of NBC's 232 affiliates refused to carry the program due to consumer complaints: WSMV in Nashville, Tennessee (owned by the Meredith Corporation); WGBC in Meridian, Mississippi; WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi, and six stations owned by Nexstar Broadcasting GroupWTWO in Terre Haute, Indiana; KARK in Little Rock, Arkansas; KFTA-TV/KNWA-TV in Fayetteville-Fort Smith, Arkansas (the former is now affiliated with Fox); KAMR in Amarillo, Texas and KBTV in Beaumont, Texas (owned at the time by Nexstar, now owned by Deerfield Media and affiliated with Fox). Most of the affiliates refusing to air the program were located in the Bible Belt.

After KARK refused to air the series, KWBF (now MyNetworkTV affiliate KARZ-TV), then an affiliate of The WB, picked up the series. The company stated that it was excited to offer an outlet for viewers in the central Arkansas area who wanted to watch the show. However, the station soon received a number of threats which required it to hire extra security.[3] On an ironic note, both KARK and KARZ have been owned by Nexstar since 2009, some three years after the show's cancellation.

Several stations in Michigan, including WDIV in Detroit (owned by Post-Newsweek), WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids (owned by LIN), WILX in Lansing (owned by Gray Television) and Barrington Broadcasting stations WPBN and WTOM in Traverse City and Sault Ste. Marie, and WLUC in Marquette did not air The Book of Daniel's second episode, although this was due to a live broadcast of the 2006 North American International Auto Show Charity Preview and not necessarily the controversy.

NBC's Salt Lake City affiliate, KSL-TV (whose owner, Bonneville International, is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), did carry The Book of Daniel, despite the station's history of preempting shows claiming that they would offend Utah's religious population.

Network cancels program mid-season[edit]

On January 24, 2006, NBC announced the show had been dropped from the schedule. The last airing of the show was on January 20, 2006. The January 20 episode was the fourth in the series, drawing 5.8 million viewers. NBC gave no official explanation for the cancellation.

Airings on the web[edit]

The show held the distinction of being one of the first shows to be streamed on the web after its cancellation. On January 27, 2006 at 8:10pm/ET, NBC.com streamed the first of the unaired episodes.

Episodes continued to be streamed, one a week, for the next three weeks. New episodes were initially made available at around 8pm on Friday night and were viewable until the next episode replaced it on the following Friday. The final episode was streamed on February 10, 2006.

With that streaming, NBC had aired (either on TV or the Web) every episode of the show's initial order (and consequently, every episode that had been produced up to that point).

DVD release[edit]

Cover Art

On September 26, 2006, a complete-series collection of The Book of Daniel was released on DVD exclusively on Amazon.com. The set includes two discs featuring all eight episodes, in the traditional hard plastic case.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/entertainment/13702858.htm[dead link]
  2. ^ Elliott, Stuart (January 11, 2006). "Few Are Booking Ads on 'The Book of Daniel'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  3. ^ Shapiro, Beth (2006-01-10). "TV Station Threatened Over Series With Gay Character". 365Gay.com (365GayMedia Inc.). Archived from the original on 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 

External links[edit]