The Book of Daniel - The Complete Series
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A provocative, edgy and compelling new drama, The Book of Daniel stars Emmy nominee Aidan Quinn (An Early Frost, Plainsong, Legends of the Fall) as the Rev. Daniel Webster, an unconventional Episcopalian priest. Webster is challenged on many levels as he struggles to be a good husband, father and minister, while navigating an often rocky relationship with church hierarchy, led by Bishop Beatrice Congreve (Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore).
A pill-popping Episcopalian priest, an affair between the clergyman's father and the female church bishop, and a wisecracking Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that there was so much controversy surrounding the January 2006 debut of The Book of Daniel? The series, which lasted less than a month before NBC canceled it, isn't quite as controversial as it was made out to be. If you take religion out of the mix, you're left with a loving but conflicted family that argues, loves, and tries to make the best of what they have. Aidan Quinn stars as Father Daniel Webster. He's the married father of three children--a gay college student, an adopted Chinese boy, and an artistic 16-year-old girl who resorts to selling pot to save enough money to buy herself a new computer for her Japanese anime-influenced comic drawings. When one of her brothers asks, "You do manga?" Daniel freaks out. "Is that some kind of marijuana?"
The show was canceled after just four episodes, but all eight are available on this two-disc DVD set. (The first two episodes are presented as one here.) Truth be told, with the exception of the series' final unaired episode, the four that were televised were the strongest. The story arc revolving around Daniel's brother--a rising politician--and the priest's martini-swilling wife goes nowhere. Same for the plot between adopted younger son Adam (Ivan Shaw) and his boarding school girlfriend. While the series doesn't present the clergy as perfect religious role models, it does show them as hard working and caring. The series has a lot of heart--sometimes so much that it resembles Seventh Heaven more than a cutting edge series. But Quinn is incredibly likeable as the conflicted priest who knows from right and wrong but can't always prevent himself (or others) from falling prey to their darker side. And Ellen Burstyn is hilarious as Beatrice Congreve, a bishop who tells it like it is. Of Daniel's latest lackluster sermon, Beatrice says, "I would describe your service as flaccid." What can you say? When she's right, she right. --Jae-Ha Kim
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Top customer reviews
I do know that some of the topics explored homosexuality/homophobia, sexuality in general, medicinal marijuana and the like would be hot buttons to some. But, I am dismayed and not a little angry that their prejudices should keep me and others from watching this series for many seasons. I am most thankful for this DVD that has given me this excellent and well acted series to watch again and again.
The acting was great across the board and the stories were well written.
It's worth it just for Alison Pill's cover of "Time After Time."
And of course, with any worthwhile TV series, it got chopped short. In this instance, it was when the networks and everyone caved into the tiny minds who were having such fits. Too bad since it really was stretching itself into something great.
Now this household is maybe just a little too packed with drama and back-story, but it is certainly entertaining, funny, touching, thoughtful, and respectful of its characters and also the church, with all it's worldly and unsaint-like concerns and influences.
Daniel is an Episcopal priest (and a good one, I think) who talks regularly with Jesus and pops pills to calm himself. (If this much was going on in my life, I'd be tempted too.) His wife is supportive and smart, and likes to drink. His oldest son is gay and suffering because of his identical twin's recent death. His younger son is an adopted Chinese boy with a smart mouth and raging hormones. His daughter is arrested for possession of pot in the opening scene. There is more (lots more) and it's generally all pretty interesting and certainly worth a couple viewings to "get" it all.
I regret that I did not take interest in this series when it was airing and take the opportunity to voice my opinion that this was a series worth saving. But what's done is done. The DVD is worth seeing. Highly recommended.
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