Cast: Jay R. Ferguson, Lindsey Kraft, David Krumholtz, Ian Gomez, Camryn Manheim
“I’m a good man but I want to be great.” So states Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson), the main character on the new CBS comedy Living Biblically. The show’s title succinctly explains its premise.
Chip, a film critic, decides to start living his life according to the Bible. Having lost his best friend recently and learned that his wife is pregnant, Chip decides to follow the teachings of the good book wherever they may lead him. Those teachings lead him to befriend Father Gene (Ian Gomez), a Christian priest, and Rabbi Gil (David Krumholtz). The priest and the rabbi form a God squad for Chip, who seeks their advice nearly every week.
The concept is a tricky one and could’ve easily resulted in an offensive thirty-minute comedy. The program thankfully respects its premiere but it can’t overcome its basic flaws and forgettable characters.
Adapted from the book The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, the comedy is oftentimes stifled by its simplistic and bland jokes.
Much of the humor arrives from Chip’s quest to follow the Bible wherever that may lead (and it leads to him throwing a stone at an adulterer, changing his attire to fit the Biblical rules etc.) but the jokes never stand out. Instead of aiming for wit, the show settles for easy laugh lines time and again.
The program clearly has a good message and something to say. An episode about people worshiping their phones covers unique territory. However, the show can’t pull off saying anything truly insightful about the idea. Instead, the episode is hampered by lame gags about the best way to replace apps.
It doesn’t help that the supporting characters are given little to do. Leslie (Lindsey Kraft), Chip’s wife, acts as simply the put-upon spouse suffering through her husband’s latest obsession. Camryn Manheim (the incredibly gifted actress from The Practice) plays Chip’s boss as a tough-minded professional, who has Chip turn his latest quest into a new column. Tony Rock plays Chip’s co-worker and his new best friend but despite his character’s exuberance, he’s never really given enough personality.
Each of these characters feels like a traditional supporting player on a comedy. None of them gets the chance to really stand out.
It feels like the actors, including Ferguson as the lead, are ready to break new ground but the scripts never gives them the opportunity.
For a show that wants to explore a unique concept and daily moral quandaries, this program feels very safe and predictable. The concept may stand out as a unique one but there’s nothing else that makes this half-hour program break new ground. Instead of going for something higher, Living Biblically fails to stand out in the crowded marketplace.
Review by: John Hanlon