‘Living Biblically’ a sinfully bland, unfunny bore
Published at | Updated at
Execution is everything. You can come up with the greatest idea of all time, but it will all come to nothing if don’t do a good job realizing it. History is littered with the wreckage of good ideas that were failed by poor execution. And now you can add the new CBS sitcom “Living Biblically” to the list.
“Living Biblically” introduces us to Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson), an everyman film critic and lapsed Catholic who finds himself in a funk after the death of his best friend. Fearing that Hell awaits him and with a new daughter on the way, Chip decides to live his life 100 percent according to the tenets of the Bible.
Chip’s wife, Leslie (Lindsey Kraft), greets his decision with skepticism, so Chip enlists Father Gene (Ian Gomez) and Rabbi Gil (David Krumholtz) to help him navigate his new lifestyle. He also struggles to adjust to living in a world that is far removed from supporting Biblical ideals. He also has to ameliorate the friction his new lifestyle creates with the people around him.
Sitcoms need three important elements to be successful. They need a solid concept or situation to serve as a foundation for the storytelling. They also need solid writing to create humor, interesting characters and illuminating themes. Finally, sitcoms need strong acting to breathe life into the characters and make the jokes work.
The idea of living 100 percent according to Bible precepts in a world that is moving further from traditional faith and religious practices is a compelling concept. What it takes to better yourself as a person in an environment that rarely offers encouragement for such an endeavor has a lot of rich thematic material.
Unfortunately, “Biblically” faceplants with the other two elements. The writing is lifeless, lacking wit, energy and depth. The jokes are mostly bland wordplay and dialogue exchanges that no two real people would have. The show also fails in addressing any compelling thematic material. It grazes issues of adultery and the ever-intrusive presence of technology in our lives, but the points the show makes are tired and cliched. With few laughs and weak messaging, the writers have really failed “Biblically.”
But even bad writing can be salvaged to a point be good acting. Too bad the acting in “Biblically” is hackneyed and unsubtle. Ferguson plays Chip as the typical goofy, quirky sitcom dad. If you watch CBS’s Monday night line-up, you can see Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc play basically the same role. He’s too over-the-top to pull off any nuanced, emotional scenes, but doesn’t quite have the timing to make the jokes work either. Craft is similarly unimpressive as Leslie. The support players are cliched and charmless, and the show wastes Camryn Manheim as the stereotypical belligerent boss.
If “Biblically” does have a bright spot, it’s Krumholtz as Rabbi Gil. The character is just as cliched and poorly written as the rest of the characters, but in a testament to Krumholtz’s skills as an actor, Gil ends up being the only memorable character in the cast. But Gil can’t save the show on his own.
Look, I know “Biblically” is a sitcom. It’s not a serious drama, and maybe it deserves to be cut a little slack. But even easing up a bit doesn’t change the fact that this show is unfunny, cliche-riddled and derivative of far better shows. Even being kind, it’s hard to recommend this show as anything other than background noise.
A show about striving to be a better person, about trying to be more godly, is a fantastic idea and probably something that is sorely needed. Sadly, “Living Biblically” falls way short of being even an entertaining, funny comedy. Hopefully, someone else will give a similar idea a shot, with a serious upgrade to the writing and cast.