…because in spite of the aforementioned overreliance on Bible-by-numbers imagery and music (actually it’s the soundtrack that really doesn’t meet the quality of the rest of the drama), this is one of the best things the BBC has done for a long time. The acting is uniformly excellent, the script is intelligent and gripping, and it manages to be surprising but not in a cocky way – unusually, Pilate is a bit of a bastard, Caiaphas is a very reasonable man and Judas is entirely sympathetic, yet none of this feels forced or unnecessary, just an intelligent and historically-informed reading of a well-known story.
So what’s my gripe? I must have one, seeing as how it’s the only thing that spurs me into blogging these days.
My gripe is with BBC scheduling. Episode one was shown last Sunday, episode two was shown at a different time on Monday, then we have to wait until Friday for the third installment at yet another different time, before the final episode on Sunday which the BBC website usefully informs me is at a time “TBA”.
When I first heard about this drama nearly a year ago, I was told that the plan was to show the drama in five half-hour installments at a fixed time across the week, essentially soap opera-style (as the BBC did very successfully with Bleak House). So why the change of plan? Loss of nerve in head office, anyone?
It seems both utterly foolish and quite typical of the BBC to squeeze their beautiful and expensive drama into whatever slots were available rather than treat it as the prime time major adaptation it is, quite probably because somebody decided at the last minute that Jesus doesn’t have the pulling power of John Jarndyce. As a result, whilst I’m sure many middle class churchgoers will make the effort of hunting down episodes of The Passion, I doubt very much that it’s going to attract vast numbers of casual viewers.
Which is a shame, because it really is an awful lot better than Torchwood.