(CNS) -- Just because the new CBS sitcom "Living Biblically" has landed a spot
in the network's decades-dominant Monday night comedy lineup does not automatically
guarantee it an audience.
viewers are going to be suspicious about a TV series dealing with faith, they don't
need an excuse to change the channel. That's the view of Patrick Walsh, one of
the executive producers of "Living Biblically."
this show would get a lot of attention from religious viewers," Walsh told
Catholic News Service during a Feb. 8 telephone interview from Hollywood.
that going in, just from internet comments, religious people get nervous and
they get scared about religious comedy. They fear they would be mocked. I
figured, why give them a reason to turn it off?" he said. "We hope that the
language would be clean enough for families to be able to discuss" the show
after watching it together, Walsh added.
Biblically" is adapted from the A.J. Jacobs book of the same title, in which he
kept a yearlong diary of trying to live his life entirely according to biblical
precepts. It will air at 9:30 EST Mondays on CBS starting Feb. 26.
adaptation, Chip (Jay R. Ferguson) is at a crossroads after his best friend
dies and his wife (Leslie Kraft) announces she's pregnant. He gets it into his
head that, by living according to what the Bible says, he'll be a better man,
husband and father. The series also stars Camryn Mannheim ("The Practice") as
his boss and Tony Rock (Chris' brother) as his buddy at work, while Sara
Gilbert is featured in half of the 12 shows made thus far -- possibly because
her "Roseanne" co-star Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory") bought the
rights to the book and is another executive producer of the show.
cast regulars include Ian Gomez ("Cougar Town") as Father Gene, and David
Krumholtz ("Numb3rs") as Rabbi Gil, friends who get hooked into serving as Chip's
spiritual advisers on his quest. "Living Biblically" had both a priest, Jesuit Father
Gregory Goethals, and a rabbi, Joshua Hoffman, review each script. And yes, the
"priest and a rabbi in a bar" joke is part of the pilot episode.
had never met, they obviously had very different faiths, but they hit it off,
made each other crack up," Walsh said. "They helped us create the rabbi and
priest characters on the show. As we learn from the show, priests and rabbis
can be friends; a lot of people were surprised hear that."
father is a theology professor at a community college in Missouri, where he
gets to develop his own course offerings. Walsh said his courses have ranged
from the history of the Catholic Church to religious extremism.
model of comedy -- not that Walsh puts "Living Biblically" it its class -- is "All
in the Family," because it "showed you every point of view every week, and you
got laughs on both sides. That was a touchstone for me and for Johnny -- one
that was talked about a lot If we were going to get this opportunity to talk
about religion in prime time.
just kept saying: They give us this platform. If we open the door, let's walk
through it, let's get not just some laughter but maybe get people walking away
with a more open mind, or open heart."
there's a second season depends on viewership and CBS. But Walsh told CNS the
Bible serves as a near-endless repository of precepts that can be used for
future episodes. He added, "For the first season we did the basic ones, the Ten Commandments,
very simple: Thou shalt not lie; it's a lot harder not to lie than you think,"
the most exciting thing about this show. These shows about dating -- 'Friends'
did every dating story there is; 'Seinfeld' did every one, too," Walsh added. "There's
not been, in my lifetime, sitcoms about the Bible, certainly not any I'm familiar
said, "We feel it could go on forever. There's so many stories and verses in
the Bible. We feel we've got a lot to work with."