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Home --> Politics --> Religion --> The Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel

Claim:   NBC aired The Book of Daniel, a series about an Episcopal priest who dealt with an addiction to painkillers, a gay son, and a daughter arrested for selling marijuana.

Status:   True.

Origins:   On 6 January 2006, NBC will air the two-hour premiere of a mid-season series called The Book of Daniel, a religiously-themed saga which the network describes thusly:
Emmy nominee Aidan Quinn stars as Reverend Daniel Webster, an unconventional Episcopalian minister who not only believes in Jesus — he actually sees him and discusses life with him. Webster is challenged on many levels as he struggles to be a good husband, father and minister, while trying to control a nagging addiction to prescription painkillers, and an often rocky relationship with the church hierarchy, led by Bishop Beatrice Congreve (Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn), Roger Paxton, a senior warden of the parish and stalwart churchgoer (Dylan Baker).

The reverend also has loving, but challenging relationships with his three children: Peter (Christian Campbell), his 23-year-old gay son, who struggles with the loss of his twin brother; Grace (Alison Pill), his 16-year-old daughter who doesn't try to push her father's buttons but succeeds at it nonetheless; and Adam (Ivan Shaw), his 16-year-old adopted Chinese son, a handsome and cocky high school jock with a wicked sense of humor. Keeping Webster grounded is his strong and loving wife Judith (Susanna Thompson), who is fighting her own fondness for mid-day martinis, as well as Jesus (Garret Dillahunt), whose frequent chats with Daniel serve to remind him of his strengths and weaknesses.
USA Today television critic Robert Bianco wrote of the controversial series:
Whatever else you may have heard about The Book of Daniel, it is first and foremost a show about a true-to-life, loving, complex family. It is also witty, earnest, intelligent, overdone, overly ambitious, wildly entertaining and superbly cast — which are just a few of the things that the people who decided to protest the show before it even aired have failed to mention.
A total of 4 of NBC's 230 affiliate stations (in Beaumont, Texas; Meridian, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Terre Haute, Indiana) declined to air the series' premiere episode. Five more episodes of the program are slated to air before the 2006 Winter Olympics, and two additional episodes
afterwards.

Television critic Alan Sepinwall wrote a detailed article about the background of the show and its creator in advance of the program's first airing.

Gary Levin also reviewed the series for USA Today.

Update:   On 24 January 2006, NBC announced it The Book of Daniel was being "dropped from the schedule." Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, said a letter-writing campaign from some right-wingers wasn't what killed ad sales for the show; it was that nobody was watching. The show had drawn an audience of 6.9 million viewers on its first night, but by its fourth airing, that number was down to 5.8 million.

Last updated:   26 January 2006

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  Sources Sources:
    Bianco, Robert.   "Irreverent, Ambitious 'Daniel' Doesn't Do Anything By the Book."
    USA Today.   5 January 2006.

    Elfman, Doug.   "Final Curtain for 'West Wing' in May."
    Chicago Sun Times.   23 January 2006   (p. 45).

    Levin, Gary.   "Soapy 'Daniel' Loosens the Clerical Collar."
    USA Today.   5 January 2006.

    Associated Press.   "'Book of Daniel' Snubbed By Affiliates."
    ABC News.   6 January 2006.

    Associated Press.   "NBC Drops 'Book of Daniel' From Schedule."
    25 January 2006.