Mark Burnett and Roma Downey probably couldn't have picked a better time to debut their made-for-History-Channel mini-series, "The Bible," than this week. It kicked off Sunday evening at 8 p.m. (EST) with considerable promotion beforehand. But they might have saved a few bucks on advertising had they known they'd have help from the heavens: Along with one of two comets forecast for 2013 streaking through the sky this week, an actual plague of locusts descended on Egypt.
Yes, just like in the biblical story (except there was no modern day Moses to predict the insect onslaught or any Jews in captivity along the Nile), a plague of locusts -- estimated at over 30 million strong -- has filled the skies over Egypt. Of course, they didn't need to be predicted. And they're not in any way apocalyptic (save maybe to area farmers whose crops get decimated by the insect horde). As The Atlantic reported, they show up every year as part of a regular migratory pattern. It's just a bit eerie, the timing and all. Passover is only three weeks off.
And then there's the coming of the first of the two comets scheduled to be visible this year. Just a few days from now (CNN reported over the weekend), the trail of comet Pan-STARRS will start its rule of the night-time sky and be visible beginning on March 8.
Comets are legendary phenomena of portent, omens usually forecasting times of great change and often associated with a significant deposing or ascension of a great leader.
As noted, two excellent natural occurrences that coincide well with the advent of "The Bible" mini-series on History Channel.
That is, if you put any credence in creepy omens, even though they're easily explained away as naturally occurring and not in the least of a supernatural nature.
And although there would appear to be considerable anticipation for the 10-hour mini-series that attempts to cover most of the Bible's epic stories, the odd occurrences of fireballs exploding over Russia and near-miss asteroids shooting past the Earth, not to mention the locusts and the comets, might be more promising as to biblical (in the end-times or apocalyptic events sense) entertainment value.
According to Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times, the mini-series is a "Greatly Abridged" epic fail. He says Downey and Burnett didn't meet the challenge of the bibles greatest moments, that “the feelings behind the series may be sincere — Ms. Downey has said that she and her husband 'felt called to do this' — but the approach here actually shows a lack of faith in the power of the biblical stories."
Calling it a "clumsy Bible's greatest hits," Genzlinger critiqued: "["The Bible"] is mini-series full of emoting that does not register emotionally, a tableau of great biblical moments that doesn’t convey why they’re great." He suggests if the audience wants greatness, they should go see "Godspell" or "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Still, viewers might think otherwise.
And if "The Bible" turns out to be a ratings failure as well... it won't be the first heavenly miss of the year.
"The Bible" can be seen on the History Channel at 8 p.m. (EST) on Sundays.