WASHINGTON, March 23, 2013 — There is an amazing race taking place on Sunday nights, and it’s not the reality show. Instead, two shows that couldn’t be more different have been dominating Sunday night viewing. And more surprisingly, these shows are easily beating the major broadcast networks.
“The Bible” and “The Walking Dead,” both on basic cable networks, have combined to pull over 20 million viewers from the increasingly irrelevant major networks for the past three Sunday nights.
Last Sunday night “The Bible” won the race in terms of straight numbers by a scant 29 thousand viewers. With face-off number four coming up tomorrow tonight, “The Bible” is ahead in the best-of-five battle two to one.
After two successful seasons, the allure of the zombie apocalypse on “The Walking Dead” has an established and enthusiastic audience. But trying to dissect the success of “The Bible” is a bit of a mystery, especially considering the dismal reviews it has received so far.
According to Christian media advocate Phil Cooke, the success of “The Bible” reveals acute demand for religious programming that’s often overlooked by Hollywood. “We often forget that Christians are still the largest special interest group in America,”
It is beginning to look as if the “experts” who determine the direction of TV programming are as clueless as the “experts” who covered the last presidential election. Network TV programming can not seem to release its obsession with reality TV, despite mounting evidence that TV audiences have had their fill of it, and then some.
Unlike the majority of critics, I think “The Bible” is good storytelling about a topic that is timeless as well as relevant.
Sure it has its cheesy moments and questionable attention to special effects, but that doesn’t mean the message is lost in the process.
In a world that seems to alienate more people every day, a story of hope, love, and redemption could not come at a better time. Beneath the special effects and the occasional questionable Scottish accent, the story of God’s love for his children never falters.
This in itself is reason enough to watch, and goes a long way in explaining the popularity of the mini-series, despite its critical reception.
All times are EST:
CBS: 60 minutes: (New) Lesley Stahl interviews a member of Russia’s punk protest band Pussy Riot, about the group’s anti-Putin demonstration that resulted in two members being imprisoned. Also: James Brown interviews NFL hopeful Brian Banks, who spent five years in prison for a rape he did not commit.
NBC: Dateline NBC: (New) Various investigations delve into the effectiveness of smoke alarms; online-privacy issues; and ingredients found in everyday household products. Also: the global FBI manhunt for a man wanted in a 2004 murder in Phoenix.
ABC: Once Upon a Time: (New) While off on her own to deal with what happened with Cora, Mary Margaret comes across an entirely wooden August; Neal invites his fiancée to Storybrooke.
CBS: Amazing Race 22: (New) The race continues in Botswana where the teams hunt for scorpions. Meanwhile, Chuck and Wynona confront Joey and Meghan for using the U-Turn against them.
FOX: The Simpsons: (Repeat) Homer is bummed when his “MyPad” tablet computer breaks, but hope springs eternal when Ned Flanders discovers a tree with magical powers and a bark that spells out “HOPE” in the Simpson’s’ backyard.
History Channel: The Bible: (New) Part 4 of 5. Jesus resurrects Lazarus; Caiaphas persuades Judas to betray Jesus; and Jesus is arrested.
FOX: Bob’s Burgers: (New) On a family visit to her mother’s Florida retirement home, Linda is shocked to discover that the place is swimming with swinging seniors. Meanwhile, a bored Tina, Gene and Louise try to track a python that may have made a meal out of a resident’s dog.
ABC: Revenge: (New) As Victoria asks Amanda’s foster brother for help with her charitable foundation; Emily seizes an opportunity to settle a score with someone from her past.
CBS: The Good Wife: (New) When an erratic and litigious client is murdered, Alicia is convinced to waive attorney/client privilege to help the police when she learns that the killer may also be targeting someone close to her. Also, Peter and Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry) vie for an influential endorsement and Diane receives a stunning offer.
FOX: Family Guy: (New) Mayor West goes on trial for a murder that occurred at his mansion.
NBC: All-Star Celebrity Apprentice: (New) The all-stars must use a glass truck to create a marketing campaign for Farouk Systems Products.
AMC: The Walking Dead: (New) A possible truce with the Governor comes with strings attached for Rick and the group.
SHOWTIME: Shameless: (New) Lip worries about Karen, and Jimmy drops a bomb on Fiona.
FOX: American Dad: (New) Francine realizes that it might be as easy as ABC for Steve to get into a top-notch school when she discovers he has an exceptional talent for spelling, but not all is A-OK when she suspects that he’s being distracted by a young lady.
ABC: Red Widow: (New) Marta wears a wire to a meeting with Schiller in hope of building a case against him; Marta starts working with an influential woman with whom Schiller has a long history.
CBS: The Mentalist: (New) A young actor in a local theater company dies the night before taking the stage in a starring role, and the CBI investigates the case. Meanwhile, a determined Jane seeks info about Red John from a man in a coma.
SHOWTIME: House of Lies: (New) Marty covertly makes strides with his future in mind, and Jeannie is presented with a new career opportunity.
SHOWTIME: Californication: (New) Hank meets two very important people in Faith’s life.
New episodes of:
Cupcake Wars at 8 p.m. on Food Channel
Extreme Homes at 8 p.m. on HGTV
Wicked Tuna: Hooked Up at 8 p.m. on NGC
Trip Flip at 8 p.m. on Travel Channel
Wild West Alaska at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet
My Big Fat Gypsy Valentine at 8 p.m. on TLC
The Real Housewives of Atlanta at 8 p.m. on BRAVO
Married to Medicine at 9 p.m. on BRAVO
Finding Bigfoot: Further Evidence at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet
Kourtney and Kim Take Miami at 9 p.m. on E!
Worst Cooks in America at 9 p.m. on Food Channel
Army Wives at 9 p.m. on LIFE
Wicked Tuna at 9 p.m. on NGC
MY Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding at 9 p.m. on TLC
American Ninja at 8 and 9 and 10 p.m. on Syfy
Talking Dead at 10 p.m. on AMC
Finding Bigfoot at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet
Real Husbands of Hollywood at 10 p.m. on BET
Restaurant Impossible at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Vikings at 10 p.m. on History Channel
Mudcats at 10 p.m. on NGC
Bar Rescue at 10 p.m. on SPIKE
Welcome to Myrtle Manor at 10 p.m. on TLC
Mob Wives at 10 p.m. on VH1
For movie lovers:
Jack on FLIX
The Fighter on FX
Project X on HBO
Young Tom Edison on TCM
The Ledge on TMC
Phil Spector on HBO
Love and Other Drugs on HBO
Dragon Eyes on MOMAX
X-Men: First Class at 9:30 p.m. on HBO
Twister at 9:30 p.m. on ABCFAM
Outbreak at 9:40 p.m. on ENC
Wrath of the Titans at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX
What Dreams May Come at 10 p.m. on FLIX
The Amazing Spider-Man at 10 p.m. on STARZ
Brake at 10 p.m. on TMC