The Book of Jack Daniels
From The Book of
Daniel: “In the third year of the reign of Jehoi’akim king of Judah
came Nebuchadnez’zar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem and besieged it.
And the Lord gave Jehoi’akim king of Judah into his hand, with part
of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land
of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into
the treasure house of his god.”
Nebuchadnez’zar? Shinar? Are they sure?
Once upon a war a
long time ago a friend listened quietly while two Japanese gentlemen
discussed politics in a language he thought might be Martian. They
could have been quoting from The Book of Daniel as far as he could
tell. When they had finished he shook his head in agreement. “I’ve
always said that,” he said.
Babylon; war; strife; pagan festivals; vessels; maybe even
Deuteronomy and Apocrypha—The Book of Daniel would make a great TV
series. Maybe; perhaps—anyway it would be a little late in the game
for Billy Bob Wilder to set down at his computer and hack out a few
pages; the name has been taken. NBC’s The Book of Daniel debuts on
January 6 with back-to-back episodes. Back to back episodes? That’s
not such a good idea. Baseball stopped playing doubleheaders years
ago—too many fans were leaving for a hot dog in the 3rd inning of
the second game and not coming back. It might be too much of a good
thing for a midseason replacement series.
And don’t expect
Nebuchadnez’zar—he’s not in it; and don’t look for any Septuagesima
Sundays. Except for the Babylon part, there’s not much of a biblical
nature in The Book of Daniel. It’s a dramatic series with touches of
humor. Or maybe it’s a humorous series with touches of drama. As
usual it is difficult to tell. Now if it opened with a lion’s den
and a devouring…Naw, that wouldn’t do. It’s supposed to be a
wholesome show, set in a fictional Christian community. The Daniel
of the title is Daniel Webster, an Episcopal priest played by Aidan
Quinn. Remember: that’s Aidan Quinn, not Anthony Quinn; Daniel not
Barabbas, 2006 not the year zero. Does anyone remember Anthony Quinn
in Barabbas the poor wretch that was set free so Christ could be
crucified? What rotten luck! Barabbas spent the rest of his
miserable life haunted by the ghost of the Prophet. There were no
Bill Murrays to fall back on in The Age of Miracles so poor Barabbas
had to tough it out.
has no such problems, he is not afraid of haunts or spooks; in fact,
he spends a lot of time talking to Jesus. And why shouldn’t he? If
Hillary Clinton can talk to Eleanor Roosevelt and Donald Rumsfeld
can say “ What would William Tecumseh Sherman have done” a TV
priest—that’s TV as in television, not TV as in transvestite; though
no one knows what the future might bring—should be able to commune
with Christ as long as he does not set about writing Epistles to the
Family Association has already voiced its objections to The Book of
Daniel. Aidan Quinn dismisses the objections. It’s a wholesome
series he says. “I’m an Episcopalian priest, who struggles with a
little self-medication problem, and I have a 23-year-old son who’s
gay, and a 16-year-old daughter who’s caught selling pot, and
another son who’s jumping on every high school girl he sees, and a
wife who’s very loving but also likes her martinis…I can’t tell you
how many people have said to me, ‘Hey, that sounds like my family.’”
course—forget the drugs, the booze, the whoring, and the gay guy and
one has the Cunninghams. And the Cleaver and the Nelsons—except for
the hole in Ricky’s bucket. The Clampetts were more down to earth.
Granny liked her tonic straight from the jug and Ellie Mae didn’t
always get Bessie’s diaper changed in time but that was about as bad
as it got with Jed and his kin. Why, Jethro could whomp the tar out
of that pathetic Webster bunch all by his-self and smoke some
crawdads at the same time.
calling The Book of Daniel the riskiest show of the year. One
episode has the priest’s lesbian secretary sleeping with his sister.
Come on; get real! Donald Trump would never tolerate something like
that—Howard Stern might, but not The Donald! And, pray tell, what is
so risky about portraying a Christian family as dysfunctional? Now
if Aidan were playing a Mullah who spends his spare time conversing
with the ghost of Menachem Begin, with a 16-year-old daughter who
was caught burning her hijab in a convenience store parking lot, a
gay son seeking a Christian rapture, and a wife who was sneaking out
of the house in disguise to eat hamburgers at MacDonalds, that would
be risky. But mocking Christianity is not risky; it is cowardly.
The show needs
a name change. How about The Book of Jack Daniels? It sounds good.
Make it 120 proof, get out the pretzels and we’ll come and sit a
spell. And, hey, switch that TV channel! The midget wrestlers come
on at nine o’clock. Ain’t that little Nebuchadnez’zar something? And
that’s about as Biblical as this is going to get.
By Denis Schulz
Keywords and misspellings: politics poletics
democrat demoncrat republican