BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 03/99: Tom Brook  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tom Brook Saturday, 18 March, 2000, 09:27 GMT
God, the Devil and a boycott
God, the Devil and Bob
God, the Devil and Bob has caused outrage in the US
By BBC News Online Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook

A boycott of a controversial new animated American network TV series, God, the Devil and Bob, is gaining ground.

Seventeen stations affiliated with the NBC network have now refused to air the programme, which depicts God as an ageing baby boomer and bearded hippy who drinks beer and sports sunglasses.
God, The Devil and Bob
Bar fly: God as depicted in the series
James Garner provides the voice of God, and the Scottish actor Alan Cumming is the Devil in the irreverent comedy. It focuses on Bob, a Detroit car worker called upon by God to prove that humanity is worth saving.

When the series first previewed, nine TV stations in America's south and west refused to air it. Eight more joined the boycott when the programme was officially launched last week.

If nothing else, the boycott shows the ability of conservative Christian groups to pressure TV stations not to broadcast programmes they deem offensive.

Offensive

Among the groups campaigning against God, The Devil and Bob is the American Family Association. The organisation has issued an "action alert" to its members instructing them to complain to broadcasters about the series.
God, the Devil and Bob
Alan Cumming is the voice of the Devil
The association highlights "'dance nights' in hell, a beer-swilling, quirky God who performs non-'heavy-handed' miracles, and a martini-drinking, disguise-artist Devil".

It is also outraged by reports which claim God has a girlfriend in future episodes.

These religious conservatives take issue with series creator Matthew Carlson, a former seminary student, who has called the show irreverent but certainly not sacrilegious.

But the controversy is an unexpected publicity boon for NBC. Millions tuned in for the preview episode to see for themselves what all the fuss was about.

Ratings hit

When the programme was first broadcast it was buoyed by hype and became the most-watched show in its time period, reaching 14 million viewers.
Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming as seen in BBC comedy The High Life
It also scored well with the 18-49 year old age group so coveted by advertisers.

But when the programme was officially launched last week, its audience had shrunk to just 6.5 million, although admittedly it was up against the hugely popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on ABC.

But dwindling viewer support, rather than a TV station boycott, may ultimately be the factor that determines the fate of God, The Devil and Bob.

NBC says it is committed to the 13-week series, and that it plans to broadcast the first six episodes now, and then hold the remaining seven, possibly until the autumn.

America's traditional champions of freedom of expression have displayed some reluctance to defend God, The Devil and Bob against its critics.
God, the Devil and Bob
Bob is the regular guy called upon by God
This is partly because the series so far has been rather unimpressive. The idea of having a cartoon in which an ordinary man is torn between God and The Devil sounds clever, but the writing has been lacklustre.

It is a series trying very hard to be funny but the humour lacks any spark or originality.

A beer-swilling God who appears in a bar no doubt struck executives as a formula that might just bring the kind of ratings success enjoyed by other irreverent animated shows.

But so far, this new cartoon has shown few signs that it can deliver the sharp humour and stinging social satire that has made The Simpsons and South Park such big hits.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Tom Brook stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Tom Brook stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes