GAME SHOW "The American Bible Challenge"
WHEN|WHERE Premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. on GSN
REASON TO WATCH Be rewarded for being good!
WHAT IT'S ABOUT "Redneck" comic Jeff Foxworthy moves from hosting fifth-graders to hosting Bible-ophiles. Each hour features three teams of three Christians each. (Doesn't look as though there's room for other Abrahamic religions here.) They compete weekly to win up to $20,000 for their favorite charity -- food banks, Third World donations.
On a familiar audience-background set, the spotlit contestants face questions about people, objects and events mentioned in the Bible. But with contemporary twists -- the "Faithbook" category presents hypothetical postings (Who would get a friend request from The Burning Bush?), while another asks whether inspirational quotes come from the word of the Lord or "The Lord of the Rings" (tougher than you might think). There's even a YouTube video.
The questions get progressively harder -- early topics seem designed to give viewers an easy feeling of mastery -- as rounds proceed from three players a team, to two, to one. Then, it's back to three for a Final Revelation of lightning questions on a specific topic, before which each team gets 10 minutes of Bible study.
A gospel choir sings in and out of commercial breaks.
MY SAY What took so long for TV to create this concept? Seems a natural in a country with more religious channels on cable now than there used to be channels, period.
One possible problem: Whose Christianity is in play? All the pseudo-Facebook profile drawings of Bible figures, for instance, show white faces. (Two teams tonight are white, one black.) Viewer reactions may vary, too, to Foxworthy's gentle joshing on religious topics.
It also takes a while for the game to get going. The premiere's first eight minutes introduce the teams in openly sentimental film packages, both charitable (detailing their good works) and personal (an "Eye-rack" war vet, in Foxworthy-speak, repents from his former party existence).
BOTTOM LINE "Bible Challenge" tries to cover all bases in America's complicated Christian field.