Western Animation: The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible
The main characters (in modern-day clothing) listening to the story of The Garden of Eden.
"While surveying the site of some ancient ruins, two young archaeologists, Derek and Margo, and their nomad friend Moki find themselves trapped and sinking in a whirling pool of sand. And when the dust settles, they stare up in awe at a vast chamber, filled with giant relics and artifacts from another civilization... And there, at the far end of the cavern, a door with a strange inscription - 'All who enter these portals pass through time!'"
Developed by Hanna-Barbera
during the middle to late 1980s and early 1990s, The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible
was a 13-episode direct-to-video series that featured three young explorers, Derek, Margo, and Moki, traveling through time via unexplained Doorways of Time, which allow them to witness some of the major events recorded in The Bible
. Often even within the same episode, they would stumble across one of the Doorways, allowing them to witness events from the same story that took place years later.
Similar to Super Book
and The Flying House
, the series tried to focus on making the characters from the biblical stories relatable and believable. Surprisingly, it also adhered as closely to the original stories as possible, keeping many of the elements that most Moral Guardians
quietly edit out to make the stories "appropriate" for children, editing only the relative closeness of events in order to keep within the 30-minute time frame.
Because of the close adherence, the series took the biblical stories very seriously; it was usually the side adventures of the time travelers that featured any comedy, although they often overlapped with the main story as the heroes tried to help the Biblical figures out in whatever way they could.
These cartoons are still often shown to kids in Sunday School
It also shares an art style with Captain Planet and the Planeteers
, as Ted Turner helped fund the project.
This video series provides examples of:
- Adventures in the Bible
- Artistic License – Biology: Since these videos were made for children, it was assumed that they wouldn't question the animals that were placed in the Garden. However, baraminologists and taxonomists would agree that placing modern species and sub-species in the garden when Genesis clearly states "created kinds" is a bit of a problem. Especially since it increases several thousandfold how many animals Adam would have had to name. It also complicates things for the Noah episode, an issue ignored by that episode as well.
- Bible Times: Well, duh!
- Big Eater: A Running Gag seems to be Moki complaining all the time that he's hungry
- Butt Monkey: Moki
- Captain Obvious: It's Hanna-Barbera. What do you expect? At least one Lampshade Hanging:
: [upon arriving in Ancient Egypt]
A real Egyptian! Moki
: You were expecting an Eskimo?
- Development Hell: It took Joseph Barbera over 17 years before he could finally get the support he needed to create the show.
- Fanservice: Delilah from "Samson and Delilah" and the belly dancers from the infamous party in "Daniel and the Lion's Den".
- Fish out of Temporal Water
- Framing Device: In "The Creation", "Jonah", "The Miracles of Jesus", and "The Easter Story", the time-travelers hear about biblical events instead of witnessing them firsthand.
- Godiva Hair: In the creation story. Also has some clever scenery placement.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Famous guest stars included Helen Slater as Esther, James Earl Jones as the Pharaoh in the Moses story, Tim Curry as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Robbie Benson as David, Alan Oppenheimer as Jonah, Tony Jay as the High Priest who tried Jesus, and Vincent Price as Herod.
- Improbable Age: According to the "Queen Esther" episode, Margo is still in high school. Presumably, Derek and Moki are around the same age.
- Large Ham: Most of the actors playing major religious figures were very big and bombastic. In the retelling of Exodus, Moses and the Pharaoh particularly engage in some delicious Ham-to-Ham Combat.
- No Ending: There's no Grand Finale in which the time-travelers return to the present. For all we know, they live out the rest of their lives in the biblical era. In fact, they seem curiously unconcerned about returning to their own time.
- The Other Darrin: Jesus has a different voice actor in "The Miracles of Jesus" than in "The Easter Story". Also, Derek's voice actor was changed in 1989.
- Our Time Travel Is Different: Our 20th-century heroes travel through time not so much by any device, as because they keep finding holes in the Space-Time Continuum.
- Out of Order: Kind of. The episodes are generally ordered chronologically, starting with "The Creation" and ending with "The Easter Story", but that's not the order they were released in. In fact, the episodes were produced in no particular order, ending with "Queen Esther" in 1992. Some continuity problems stem from this, if we are too assume the time-travelers are going through the Bible chronologically. For example, in "Moses" (released in 1986) the gang is amazed at having arrived in Egypt. However, they were already in Egypt in the chronologically previous episode "Joseph and His Brothers" (released in 1990).
- Politically Correct History: Lucky for Margo, there was no sexism during the biblical era. Averted in "Queen Esther", which is explicitly about such things.
- Quicksand Sucks: Rather than drowning our heroes, it behaves as a Portal to the Past-specifically bible times.
- Science Marches On / Artistic License – Engineering / Anachronism Stew: While the exact shape that was given to the Ark, assuming a real historical Ark, varies constantly amongst scholars, modern naval engineers now argue that it would most likely have resembled an oversized Babylonian/Sumerian cargo vessel. Such a model would have been most adept to the Ark's purpose: to float around aimlessly on an ocean for 40 days and 40 nights amidst massive geological activity under the ocean causing violent waves. The popular "box model" by Henry Morris would have also worked, but made for a much-less-comfortable ride. However, everything from the shape to the lumbering and planking of Greatest Adventure and its version of the Ark does not appear like it would have been very seaworthy at all. Even at several points in the episode itself, the writers reveal the Ark to have design weaknesses that would have been more consistent with 18th-century English naval engineering.
- The BBC eventually proved that English naval engineering's planking system would not have produced an Ark strong enough to support its own weight. By contrast, the Answers in Genesis video Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box demonstrated that Sumerian planking was more labor-intensive; and involved more complex steps that yielded much-tighter vessels. English engineering for wooden ships was done cheaply, so that merchants could get good bargains on vessels and trade them in for improved models in a few years' time. Since Noah didn't have to worry about the value of a ship being downgraded by the risks of piracy, he would have had no reason to build the Ark according to cheaper, more English methods that would not have existed in his day anyway.
- Shout-Out: Moses wears the same outfit worn by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. Also, the scene where Egypt's water is turned to blood is a nearly shot-for-shot copy of the same scene from The Ten Commandments.
- The Creation of Earth bears some resemblance to Fantasia, with all the volcanoes and such.
- Tim Curry: Played the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Very well at that.
- Title Sequence Replacement: There are two subtly different versions of the intro. In the first, the writing on the Doorway of Time is in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Perhaps associating a magic time door with the Ancient Egyptians was too pagany, because subsequent episodes (and re-releases or earlier episodes) replace it with a generic Middle-Eastern-looking script. It was sort of a moot exercise anyway, as the chamber itself is still clearly Egyptian-themed.