In 1977 millions were swayed by the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth starring Robert Powell. A lot of big stars also played a role in the stunning program, most notably Ian McShane and James Earl Jones. What made the mini-series in 1977 so compelling was that it wasn’t preachy, instead opting to allow the viewer to go on a journey. It was the success of this series that allowed The Passion of the Christ to break records in 2004.
Now after 40 years (and still a $50 price tag for the set!) the Smithsonian Channel is doing a bit of a follow-up. They are calling it The Real Jesus Of Nazareth, and it will be a four part series set for some time in 2017. This is a really big deal for the channel, and is a project that most would have expected from The History Channel or Discovery. Robert Powell will be returning, bringing some of the magic from the original to the new format.
The network also has access to old film footage, so there will be a mashup of old and new as Powell guides viewers on a brand new journey through Israel. There will be scholars, archaeologists and limited celebrity appearances. On the surface it seems bare, and more like an ‘extras’ version to go along with the original. But the reality of it is that The Smithsonian Channel has a chance to recreate something that will get them big views, and a series that can stand on its own.
Powell is still a respected figure in the acting world, and the only thing the producers need to do is make an already compelling story interesting to new viewership. Even if it does average numbers, the show will still drive a lot of people to check out the original which ranks as one of the better miniseries of its time.
Will this be better than the original? What do you think about Powell returning?