The lion’s den

I never ended up watching Daniel; it’s sitting on the TiVo waiting for me, and I will get to it. But I won’t be able to watch on the air because NBC canceled it and if that were just a matter of quality and ratings, I’d have no beef. But, of course, the religious right nutjobs who attacked the show before it was even on will crow victory. And advertisers will cower, glad to be avoiding another controversy. And that is the real reason the show went off; advertisers were scared off.

So here’s the real moral to this story: Old, mass media is doomed do dullness.

  • steve

    Or perhaps a show designed simply to push buttons doesn’t have enough appeal to make it. If it can’t even attract someone who “cares” to watch it in it’s real time slot . . .

  • http://ruthcalvo Ruth

    Since I seldom watch anything but the news and movies, the stoning of Daniel/NBC is making no change in my plans. Sadly, tho, the ruckus raised by the televangelist crew will only further weaken the legitimate church’s appeal to any intelligent members of the American community.

    Social undesirability hardly seems to be a good stance for self-styled representatives of a loving God.

  • Mark

    I ended up watching it, not really intentionally, just saw it in the TV listings and remembered it was something people were carping about, so tuned it in.

    Basically, it just wasn’t a very good show. OTOH, I kind of like Commander in Chief, though it appears it’s not doing well in the ratings either.

  • Robert Feinman

    I think Jeff is reading too much into this. The networks no longer give a show a chance to gather an audience. Either it starts with a bang or it’s gone.
    There were two shows earlier this year that paired two mismatched guys working as lawyers. One lasted (I think) two episodes, the other three.

    I tried to watch Daniel, just to see what the religious right might be upset about, but it was just awful. Flat characters designed to represent a social issue, the gay, the addicted, the sexually active teen, etc. Perhaps soap operas should stay in the daytime slot.

  • Ron Pettengill

    wait a minute – isn’t the audience the network? let NBC or the production company post episodes via the web or itunes like service. build an audience that way.

  • Right of Center

    NBC is on the public airwaves. The public has a right ot express its opinion and organize boycotts and “scare” advertisers all it wants.

    They saw something they didn’t like and made considerable noise about it, no different really from attacking DELL on one’s own blog.

  • Frank

    Jeff, you’re off on this one. Do you have some sort of insdie info from NBC about why it was cancelled? Because looking at the ratings alone tells the story. It just wasn’t bringing in viewers. Every episode drew fewer than its previous one.

    Sometimes a show just doesn’t do enough to attract and keep an audience.

    Advertisers spend their money on controversial shows all the time. I’ve read nothing about any specific sponsors being skittish about Daniel.

    Face it. It wasn’t the kooky family groups with their fill-in-the-blank complaint forms. It wasn’t spooked advertisers.

    The audience saw the first episode and simply judged for themselves.

  • CaptiousNut

    There are plenty of offensive shows that so-called “religious nutjobs” haven’t been able to force off the air.

    Ergo, it had to be ratings that did Daniel in.

    But far be it from me to deny anyone their inalienable right to paranoid self-delusion.

  • CrudeBoy

    I enjoyed the show. The church was a backdrop. The Jesus character is funny. I t was Desperate Housewives without the overarching mystery.

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  • Rob

    I never happened to see the show, but it doesn’t sound like I missed much. I don’t see why the Christian folks shouldn’t have a right to protest like everyone else.

    My only problem is that it seems like it’s open season on Christians (and I’m not one, by the way). Imagine a show that joked with Islam – there would be riots around the world.

    When a Christian protests that they find some media content immoral or indecent, how is that any different from a liberal protesting against school prayer?

  • Jersey Exile

    “Alternative” religious shows tend not to fare too well on broadcast television. David Fury’s Miracles didn’t last much longer than Book of Daniel, and he had all that Buffy the Vampire Slayer cachet pulling in eyeballs to boot.

    I’m not sure if Miracles ever got targeted by “concerned Christians”, but let’s face it, you can’t talk about God without pissing someone off. This is the real reason why most Americans say things like Happy Holidays and tend to get annoyed when evangelicals insist on teaching the Book of Genesis in the biology classroom — it’s less out of some conspiratorial liberal bias against religion and more a perfectly understandable desire not to be cornered and harrangued by a nitwit who can’t deal with the fact that belief comes in a bewildering array of forms, many of which cannot be logically reconciled with one another.

    What’s the solution then for shows like Book of Daniel which dare to consider matters of faith and the cloth from a less-than-mainstream perspective? Online syndication. Broadcast distribution is the twenty ton brontosaurus, doomed to extinction by direct delivery of video content to the consumer, without the meddling of busybody organizations with nothing better to do than tell people what they can and can’t watch. TiVo and DVR technology has already primed Americans for the revolution; the video iPod and Google Video* will take things from here.

    * Provided you don’t live in China, of course. But that’s another rant.

  • Ravo

    It was a dishonest protrait of an extremely dysfunctional leftist family impersonating one on the right.

  • Jersey Exile

    Speaking of thin-skinned religious organizations and the disproportionate power they wield today in American culture, check out yesterday’s front-page story in the Wall Street Journal about Hindu extremists groups and their campaigns to change high school history textbooks. Fun stuff.

  • Paw

    Sorry to disappoint you, Jeff, but no right wing conspiracy here. The show sucked balls, plain and simple. Wasted 2 hours watching the premiere. wished it were cancelled before the second hour began.

    BTW, the tens of millions of viewers that actually sit in front of televisions to watch DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, LOST, AMERICAN IDOL, DANCING WITH THE STARS and CSI every week may disagree with your assessment of the “dullness” of old school mass media.

  • Wise One

    Bad taste and bigotry have been sent to the dustpan. Three cheers.

  • Angel

    It’s not so much that it’s “open season on Christians,” and they can protest all they want. Like many commenters have pointed out here, they have a right to protest all they want. So does everyone else on this country. What they do not have the right is to dictate what other people may want to watch (or read or listen to). If they want to disapprove of something, that is perfectly fine. I respect their values, but they can stay out of my viewing. I would rather be the one to decide if I want to watch (or read or listen to) something. Maybe these Christians (and I am sure not all are that way) just walk into it when they pretend to be holier than thou and more often than not get caught with their pants down. What was that thing about removing the rod out of your eye before noticing the speck in someone else’s?

  • Lake Erie Princess

    i watched the pilot and all of the preceeding episodes and found it quite refreshing. somewhat of a satire look at religion and those who lead their flocks. but…….it is TOO much for national tv to allow a show to be broadcast which depicts JESUS popping up on occasion ! i enjoyed it and found it very refreshing and amusing.

    years ago madeline murray o’hare was correct, when she said that God is for IDIOTS, for those uneducated. one thing at a time disappears from our nation which was based on IN GOD WE TRUST. we are becoming a culture of death with prochoice, and then don’t forget that oregon offers assisted suicide vs natural death.

    if the us is not careful, we could end up a very sad society with morals gone by the wayside.

    too bad we cannot all be conservatives, but i have hope with alito and justice roberts. hmmm 5 practicing Roman Catholics sit on the supreme court. could be a cause for a turnaround to better morality here in the us !

  • Ravo

    It’s about Episcopal minister who’s hooked on Vicodin and has a martini swigging spouse, a gay son, and a pot-dealing daughter. There are also promises of lesbianism thrown in to get the Spike TV-Howard Stern crowd interested.

    ….Perhaps the dope-sucking perverts who populate La-La Land would find a show about a junkie priest wholesome.”

    All behaviors the left wing goes to bat for.

    A smear on religion.

    It would have reflected more reality had it been set in
    Nagin’s “chocolate town”.

    No doubt the very same people screaming censorship now would protest THAT.

    Leftists sure can be counted upon to be so effin hypocritical in their political correctness.

  • Ravo

    I want to see this one…(an excerpt from the link shown above)

    It has more of the TRUTH behind it.

    Drama: “The Oval Office.” “A Democrat President named Ben Clipper wins the election and quickly finds himself in hot water when his wife decides to fire the entire White House security staff so her friends can obtain a contract for their private security firm. While senators visit the White House to discuss this highly suspicious action on the part of the First Lady, one Republican senator trips over a stack of papers he quickly discovers are classified FBI files. President Clipper smiles an embarrassed smile and says, “How the hell did those get there?” Cut to commercial.

    (For Sweeps Week): In crossover shows, President Clipper guest stars on “Hey, Rev!” and Rev. Jamie guests on “The Oval Office.” For comedy relief, the Rev drops in unexpectedly to visit the president, not knowing that an intern is under Clipper’s desk, uh, not doing something. The First Lady is a hoot as she walks down the hall screaming obscenities at White House staff and throwing flower pots and other inanimate objects at her philandering husband. Now that would be must-see TV.

    Why is it that Hollywood’s fantasies only entail the distortion of what is normal when a factual depiction of recent history would be just as entertaining—and would require absolutely no imagination?”

  • Jim Nelson

    Apparently, very few people actually watched it, which frankly doesn’t surprise me. People have a lot of entertainment choices these days, so if you’re premiering a new show, you need to make a positive impression before the first episode goes on the air. I didn’t really pay attention to what the “concerned” Christians were saying about it, but based on the coverage in the mainstream media, it looked an awful lot like someone basically sat down and made up a laundry list of elements calculated to offend middle America. It turns out that this sort of thing, um, offends middle America. Maybe that wasn’t what the show was about (I have to admit I never watched it), but if there was more to it than that, the network did a poor job of making this clear to the public.

    Personally, the reason I didn’t watch BOD was that I expected that in its own way, it would be every bit as preachy, pedantic, boring and tedious as The 700 Club. But if folks took a pass because they were offended by what they’d heard about the show, I honestly don’t think that necessarily makes them a bunch of gun-toting, cousin-humping, bible-thumping yahoos. (Mind you, I’m talking here about people who simply didn’t watch the show, not the folks who tried to strongarm the network or its affiliates.)

    And by the way, that new Heather Graham show got cancelled after only one episode, even though it didn’t piss anybody off, so I don’t think that BOD’s short run is necessarily evidence that we’re living in AmeriKKKa.

  • Seth

    I think Ron has the best take on all of this. Put the remaining episodes on iTunes or Google video and recoup some of the cost of production.

    Who knows, it could find an audience online.

  • Paul Leclerc

    I explicitly Tivo’ed it because I was hopeful that it would be a good show. I really really did. I could only watch 30 minutes of it before I gave up. It was badly written and overly contrived. Every single character was caricatured beyond recognition.

    I don’t think the nutjobs had as big as an influence. It was truly just a bad show.

  • David 2

    Angel actually got the issue right… but there are a few other things that need to be considered.

    1. Yes networks DO have an unrealistic expectation of success for any show nowadays. Just about every show that we would consider to be a classic favorite today would never get past the first month if they were held up to the standards network executives impose today. EVERY show that wasn’t an immediate #1 ratings hit when they made their debut would have been ditched in the first month, long before they ever could develop a following.

    2. Fridays have always been the “death knell” for any TV network… with the exception of the SciFi channel. When NBC wanted to get rid of “Star Trek”, they moved it to Fridays. When Paramount wanted to get rid of “Star Trek: Enterprise”, they moved it to Fridays. Executives know that Fridays are usually a good day for people to go out and not watch TV, so they will usually fill that evening with stuff that they really don’t give a crap about.

    3. I don’t care what reason NBC gives for shelving the show. The fact that it got shelved gives the bible-thumpers the excuse to crow about how “THEY” managed to get rid of the program. Their shallow narcisistic egos will not see it as anything else, and they wil refuse to allow any other explination be mentioned.

  • penny

    i watched it and it wasnt that bad….watched in between commercials during Battlestar…

    But it shows the difference between a quality show and junk or cable and network tv….Rescue Me starring Denis Leary on FX has Jesus and Mary talking to Tommy all the time and not in a nice clean setting of a car as in “Daniel” but in bloody scenes in the bedroom…I never hear complaints about that show….but that show is Excellent also and on cable

    just my two cents…

  • Tac Anderson

    ” Old, mass media is doomed do dullness.” Never saw the show because I already agreed with this point. Amen

  • kat

    So if there is no lesbianism, drugs, and gayetry , it’s dull. I guess I like dull shows.
    The only way that Christians can be blamed for the demise of this show is that they did what they are supposed to do–they used the clicker and changed the channel…I never watched an episode. Poor ratings resulted in cancelled show…period. You can show crap, you can’t make people watch it.

  • donna

    I watched it. I have absolutely no problems with a Jesus character, but I did have problems with the “Six Feet Under” “Desperate Housewives” wanna-be writing. It became very tedious with the constant trying to push the envelope characters that you couldn’t care less about. Just a bad show, that I’d never tune in to again.

  • Eileen

    It must be driving Hollywood nuts to see that they can no longer force their ever increasingly edgy (that IS the goal, isn’t it) garbage on mainstream America – at least over the public airways – and expect them to…er…actually watch it! Yep, we’re exercising our clicker rights, all right. Heh. May advertisers continue to leave in droves. Eventually Hollyweird will grasp that we’re not into their form of ‘shock’ entertainment, drenched in a hefty dose of left wing ideological crap. If they don’t, well, best of luck, Bub.

    To blame BOD’s demise on the Christian right is, well, comical. But then, what value or issue in the liberals’ quiver DOESN’T make the Christian right their number one nemesis, along with the always evil Boosh? Too bad the left can’t paint their enemies as being responsible for their Very Own Failures with easy, broad, brush strokes any more, either. Powerless and impotent, they just keep digging deeper graves pretty much every place they seek to entertain, propagandize, govern or otherwise control their (purported) inferiors, the plebes.

    In this fashion, the left really Does end up unwittingly providing their very own brand of entertainment: comic relief. :)

  • Eileen


    I see you’re back to the ‘ole “religious right nutjobs” tag (although the tag you used for the post is Howie Baby). I guess your change in mission allows you to revert back to overt denigration, eh? This kind of demeaning rhetoric is as offensive as the BOD was, which apparently failed to win hearts and minds.

    Message: LIBERAL Christians (like Jeff) are sane/holier than thou; conservative Christians are crazy.

    Sad, really. And I’m not even a Christian, but I was raised a Methodist and am semi-familiar with the teachings. I doubt many Christians would label conservative ‘Christians/the religious’ as nutjobs, regardless of political suasion. And I doubt the haughty, superior rhetoric will win you many points in other than leftist circles. That’s right, you don’t care any more. Got the MSM gigs and appearances; move along now.

    For all your talk about interactivity, you’re doing your damndest to just preach to a little Jeff choir here.

    So which is it, the “religious” or “the right” who are the nutjobs? Or do they have to be both conservative AND Christian in order to win the honor?

  • Ravo

    David 2….

    First, all we hear from the left for weeks are screaming and wailing at Bible thumpers TELLING them they ARE the reason leftists won’t be able to watch the BOD show.

    Then after the show is cancelled because even leftists found they don’t want to watch it:

    ….now the left is worried that (after telling them so for weeks), Bible thumpers might think they are the reason the show is gone.

    Too Funny!!

    Nobody twists stuff to fit their agenda quite like the left.

    3. I don’t care what reason NBC gives for shelving the show. The fact that it got shelved gives the bible-thumpers the excuse to crow about how “THEY” managed to get rid of the program. Their shallow narcisistic egos will not see it as anything else, and they wil refuse to allow any other explination be mentioned.

  • Carson Fire

    This wouldn’t be happening if not for the fact that networks and media in general have lost the trust of its Christian viewers. It would be one thing for a Christian-friendly media producer to make a show featuring Jesus as an incidental character in a modern situation; but big media have been openly hostile towards Christians for the last two decades, at least.

    And what’s wrong with Christians objecting to their treatment in TV and movies, anyway? Isn’t this the same kind of interactivity that you promote online, JJ? If NBC ran a show that seemed to be aimed at demeaning Buddhists or Muslims on a weekly basis, I don’t think anyone would begrudge them their objections, and I don’t think we’d be calling their protests *censorship*.

    Meanwhile, a European newspaper is faced with serious death threats because it ran cartoons of Mohammed. Show some *real* courage, NBC, and run the Merry Mohammed sitcom. Somehow I don’t see that happening… it takes a lot less guts to parody and demean people who are only going to write letters.

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  • Ravo

    If NBC ran a show that seemed to be aimed at demeaning Buddhists or Muslims on a weekly basis, I don’t think anyone would begrudge them their objections, and I don’t think we’d be calling their protests *censorship*.


    And the folks here complaining of censorship, would be the first ones calling for it in THAT case.

    Speaking of the liberal propensity to do the twist ….

    After fighting forever against it, the Democrats have suddenly introduced a bill to teach the Bible in school!

    Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, calls it “election year pandering using voters’ deepest beliefs as a tool.”

    How about true desperation.

  • http://ruthcalvo Ruth

    David2′s point 3. is borne out by AFA’s Wildmon’s website where he says:
    ‘Had NBC not had to eat millions of dollars each time it aired, NBC would have kept The Book of Daniel on the air. Because of your efforts, the sponsors dropped the program.’

  • Ravo


    NBC ate millions of dollars because they didn’t have the audience. People were turned off and didn’t watch…for whatever the reason.

    Had people been flocking to watch, the program would have stayed on.

    The audience spoke.

  • http://ruthcalvo Ruth

    Ravo: David2′s point #3:
    3. I don’t care what reason NBC gives for shelving the show. The fact that it got shelved gives the bible-thumpers the excuse to crow about how “THEY” managed to get rid of the program. Their shallow narcisistic egos will not see it as anything else, and they wil refuse to allow any other explination be mentioned.

    Which I quoted Wildmon substantiating.

  • kat

    Yes, Ruth, I take a tiny bit of credit for shelving the show. I, along with millions of others, took Jeff’s advise and used my clicker, to turn to another channel. And, yes, I will boycott Burlington Coat factory—because I can. Don’t shop there anyways. You can produce shit like this, but you can’t make people watch it. And you can’t brand me a religious nutjob simply because I won’t buy what you are selling. The real bigots are the people who are trying to force this crap on the rest of us, and whining like spoiled children when the show is cancelled because it has no audience.

  • Deborah White

    Truthfully, it was dumb TV with a bad script. It should have been cancelled, but not because of the complaints of rightwing nutjobs…but because it was just overwrought and bad.

    We dubbed it “Desperate Housewives meets Seventh Heaven” on steroids.

  • kat

    I guess leftwing nutjobs had better think twice before pedaling their crap. There had better be a large enough market for it. In this case there weren’t enough leftwing loons to buy the product.

  • sooze

    Lousy show+lousy ratings= cancellation
    No conspiracy, no boycott. Market dictates…….no one watches, no one makes money. Networks in business to make money…..ziltch ratings, no money. Crappy ratings,no money. I just don’t understand what Jeff DOES NOT understand about this. Sign me,

  • Eileen

    It seems the left is intent on cramming (yes, that’s the word) their agendas down our throat every which way but loose – in every quarter. Those who object are automatically denigrated as censors or religious right nutjobs. (Charming, eh?) Lefties don’t Like having to admit the enemy has free speech rights; they do their damndest to just try to make them STFU…to no avail, alas. Everywhere you look, the enemy is speaking (oh my) and exercising their free market decisions to reject the products of the left. Yes, MSM, I’m especially referring to yours.

    Must be maddening, particularly because it (also) represents Capitalism at its best!

    The funniest part of all is that while the left Insists it’s entitled to shovel its shit on the public airways in whatever way It sees fit, all the while graciously suggesting the rest of us can just FO, click off and turn the tv off if we don’t like it, they’re actually surprised when our choices instead effectively shut THEM off! Hahahahahaha!

    Maybe it has something to do with their approach, or decided lack thereof? [Aside from the 'meat' they're selling, of course.] Is it that gamey liberal, dictatorial flavor we find to be so distasteful? Is it really ‘my way or the highway’, libs?

  • Deborah White

    Please don’t stereotype lefties, and I won’t stereotype rightwingers. I thought it was a stupid program, undeserving of any broadcast time.

    If that particular program had a serious or politically-correct message, I can’t imagine what it was. As a Christian, I thought it was a strange slap in the face by an atheist.

  • Eileen

    “Please don’t stereotype lefties, and I won’t stereotype rightwingers.”

    Agreed, Deborah. I hope that means you’ll refrain from using the term ‘rightwing nutjobs’ for an opening salvo, then, eh?

    I saw one episode. And I saw several lefty issues prominently displayed. Whether you’ll consider it stereotyping or not is up to you. My impressions are based on what I see/hear/read coming from the left in many ways. Here are a few: Anything goes ala moral relativism. Push the gay agenda. Mock Christians. Mock the concept that anyone (most particularly, a preacher) could have faith and not also *in fact* be a drug taking reprobate. Shock. Push envelopes to the point where the shock value supplants all vestige of morality or ‘wholesomeness’ and instead becomes reality…in order to push to the next shock level. (Very similar to fake but accurate in the news: Rather. Fake but accurate in today’s news? Hamas aren’t terrorists per NBC nightly news; they’re just peaceful ‘activists’ who provide ‘social services’. Never ever mention that their Charter calls for finishing the job of the Third Reich.) Speak out against anything even remotely akin to ‘family values’ because that represents the lefty enemy, the ‘religious right nutjobs’. Foster atheism, for secular socialism is the way to go…….to the dark side. It was all dark, in my view. The preacher tells the congregation to NOT communicate with the Divine regarding their personal problems.

    One shot was enough for me.

  • http://ruthcalvo ruth

    ‘My impressions are based on what I see/hear/read coming from the left in many ways. Here are a few: Anything goes ala moral relativism. Push the gay agenda. Mock Christians. Mock the concept that anyone (most particularly, a preacher) could have faith and not also *in fact* be a drug taking reprobate. ‘

    Oh, come on, no one is so simpleminded as to credit anyone who claims these are the agenda of the left. And define Christians as those who make these false claims.

  • real hyp

    “Oh, come on, no one is so simpleminded as to credit anyone who claims these are the agenda of the left. And define Christians as those who make these false claims.”

    What is the left doing to counter the misconception?

    Jeff Jarvis is blaming the “religious right nutjobs” which is a rather simple of defining his position and framing his argument.

    Quite easy really!!!


    All this show needed was a lighter comedic touch ala Scrubs, Housewives, Seinfeld…you can have all the non PC characters you want but they can’t just plod about slowly as they did on this show. A bit more deftness and this could’ve been a big hit, it had all the wackiness set into the plot line but failed on the wacky.

    With a few punchlines it would have found a huge audience, including the most conservative families, even we like to have fun.

    Sorry, this wasn’t in the least offensive, it was just dull.

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