The TV series has great actors and vivid sets. I really admire how the actors are portraying John, Peter and Mary Magdalene. One of the highlights I took from this series is a renewed sense of how much danger the early Christians faced. It's beautiful to watch the followers of Christ react in real time to his death and resurrection. It affirms to me how much uncertainty we face in trying to follow a God "whose ways are not our ways."
One of the criticisms that I have of AD is that it suffers from awkward editing and a tendency to play up minor historical events at the expense of the main, central events of the Bible. My 12 year old daughter Hannah says "I know the story and I'm still lost." The series spends a lot of time with Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, the high priest of Jerusalem. My young kids were furious that they edited out some of their favorite highlights of Scripture such as Jesus walking through a wall after his Resurrection.
The differences between the TV show and Scripture is part of the fun for me. I had no idea my young kids knew this much detail about Scripture. For example, my 10 year old son was totally upset that the tomb of Christ was placed inside a rocky, arid desert landscape. He said, "How could Mary Magdalene mistake Jesus for a gardener in that place? What was he supposed to be, a gardener of rocks?" This is the same son who acts totally bored during Mass and all things spiritual. I had no idea before this series that he knew that much detail about the Easter story.
Part 3, of AD focuses on Pentecost, the birthday of our church. There is a lot of background stuff happening during the majority of the show. Yet the three minutes that the series shows the Holy Spirit coming over the disciples is worth the wait. My kids were impressed at how intensely the disciples were praying before the descent of the Holy Spirit. "That was hard core prayer!" my kids called out during that scene. Hours later my 4 year old was still talking about how the "fire came down from the sky and whipped around the people."
Passion plays are hundreds of years old. I'm so grateful to this experience in modern media because it's sparking a lot of intense conversation in our house. This TV series makes it easy to keep the focus on Christ's Easter Story going throughout the whole Easter season.
The 12 part TV Series A.D. can be seen on NBC at 9 PM on Sundays. My family watches it together through On Demand as part of our homeschool lessons on Monday mornings.