I don’t subscribe to Production Weekly — it costs $60 per month, and that’s in American currency — but I do skim their list of contents every now and then, and I see that today’s installment has an entry for an “Untitled Biblical Comedy”.
I have no idea what that’s all about, but a quick bit of Googling turns up this page at MyEntertainmentWorld.com, which says that “Untitled Biblical Comedy” is a TV pilot that is going to be shot next month, i.e. in May 2016.
So after the ratings hurdles faced by now-cancelled dramas like A.D. The Bible Continues and Of Kings and Prophets, it seems that someone, somewhere, is plotting a series that would take a look at the funny side of the Bible.
I have no idea at this point who is actually producing this pilot (is it for mainstream television or one of the religious networks?), or whether it has even a remote chance of becoming a full series. So it’s obviously too early to comment on the pilot yet.
All I will say for now is that comedy is hard, and biblical comedy is really hard. There is a strong element of subversive humour within the Bible, but people don’t acknowledge it as often as they should, and the comedies that do get made tend to be really preachy if they’re made by religious people or really dumb if they’re not.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian is an all-time classic partly because the Pythons did their research and knew what they were talking about. (It is also, as the Pythons have pointed out, the only film of theirs that makes a moral point — but you hardly notice, because the film is so funny and it doesn’t treat humour as a means to an end.)
Of course, it’s possible that this “untitled” comedy is actually the adaptation of A.J. Jacobs’ book The Year of Living Biblically that was announced in October. (The powers that be originally wanted to turn Jacobs’ book into a movie over a decade ago, but they have since decided to turn it into a half-hour comedy TV series.)
At any rate, I am curious to see just what the makers of this pilot have in store for us.