On Sunday, I’m seeing the first two episodes of season 3 of The Chosen in a theater, but I did get a preview screener, so here are some impressions.
How Does The Chosen Season 3 Begin?
The story opens with a look back to Matthew when he was collecting taxes for the government, non-payment of which could result in arrest and imprisonment. (More than two millennia later, very little has changed in that regard.)
Matthew’s story — and the conflict his job caused with his family — is woven through the long-awaited Sermon on the Mount, as Matthew struggles to put the teaching he has heard into practice.
That’s one thing The Chosen does well, as it bring Jesus’ teachings down to a very human level, as they permeate and change the lives of His disciples.
The Chosen Is Proper TV
In an earlier post, I took issue with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners for not knowing how to write television. I’ll say it again, a TV series is not a movie cut into chunks.
Even though it may be part of a longer continuing story, a truly satisfying, well-constructed TV episode has a theme and an internal arc, with a kind of closure at the end.
I held up Netflix’s royal drama The Crown as an example of how to do this correctly. Even though it’s telling a story that stretches over decades, each episode has a distinct identity of its own (fans can name their favorites by the episode title), and each one takes a theme and explores it in multiple ways through the lives of the different characters.
As well, I could have held up The Chosen. Series creator Dallas Jenkins may not have a long experience in television, but he apparently knows how to construct a TV show.
Moving backwards and forwards in time, interlocking the lives of the established and new characters, each episode not only moves the drama along but dives into the implications of ideas.
Characters Ring True in The Chosen
In particular, the beginning of season 3 looks at forgiveness and reconciliation, not just with enemies but within families.
It also explores Judas, expanding on clues from the Gospels to construct a backstory and a psychology for the character — as the show does with all the Biblical figures. It’s well-thought-out and plausible.
Notable is a touching resolution to the ongoing question of why Jesus (Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie) hasn’t healed the physical infirmities of Apostle Little James (Jordan Walker Ross). It’s an issue I discussed with Ross in a recent video interview (click here for that), and he was thrilled to have this emotional, one-on-one scene.
There hasn’t been a character yet who rings false or who seems fake or strained. It’s an accomplishment and proof that, if you have talent and drive, the skills of creating good TV can be learned outside traditional showbiz.
Proving Faith-Based Drama Can Also Be Good
In the end, no matter what kind of film or TV you do, quality will out. There is a certain percentage of people who will come to explicitly faith-based programming just because of the genre, but The Chosen has a chance to (and has) preached beyond the choir.
As someone who covered TV for decades, I admit to having been leery of The Chosen at first. I’ve seen several middling to low-quality faith-based films, and I’ve never been one who enjoyed promoting something I didn’t think was worth the effort.
Definitely don’t have that issue with The Chosen. It’s not perfect, but it’s good preaching, and, equally important, it’s good TV.
Image: The Chosen
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