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Series / AD: The Bible Continues

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AD: The Bible Continues is an NBC miniseries recounting the birth of Christianity, based on parts of The Bible, which began airing in 2015. It begins with Jesus's death and resurrection as told in The Four Gospels and follows with the Acts of the Apostles.

It is produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the same people behind the 2013 The Bible miniseries on The History Channel. Despite the subtitle, it's more of a Spiritual Successor than a straight Sequel Series due to having a completely different cast and including content already covered in the previous series.

The series was cancelled after only one season, but Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have stated plans to revive the series on a new online channel sometime in late 2016 or early 2017. That seems to have descended into development hell. In any case, the series is currently on Netflix under the title AD: Kingdom and Empire.

There was also an AD miniseries in 1985, a loose sequel to 1977's Jesus of Nazareth.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Eva in the finale, although she doesn't last long.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The turbulent, violent political situation in 1st-century AD Judea is played up for Rule of Drama, as is personal drama among the early Christians.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The show makes an effort to show Caiaphas and Herod Antipas as Anti Villains compared to their portrayals in the gospels, due to being under Rome's thumb.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Conversely, Pilate is shown to be more ruthless and brutal than his portrayal in the gospels, which is more akin to what other ancient sources say about him. But even he is an Anti-Villain, especially compared to the likes of Caligula.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0 seems to be on the move in Israel, to be spearheaded by the installation of Caligula's statue in the Temple. (Note that there are scholarly arguments making this case as an interpretation of one of Jesus's prophecies.)
  • Artistic License – History: Emperor Tiberius and the future Emperor Caligula never visited Jerusalem. The show depicts Tiberius as going there to confront Pilate, but in real life Pilate was recalled back to Rome. Also, Caligula's rise to power came after Pilate was recalled, as did that whole incident with him trying to put an idol of himself in the Holy of Holies in the Temple at Jerusalem.
  • Ascended Extra: Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate, Claudia, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Simon all have much more prominent roles beyond their initial appearances in the Bible. Indeed, only Caiaphas specifically appears in the Book of Acts, on which the series is most directly based.
  • Bible Times: The series takes place during the biblical events of 1st-century AD, which also coincided with the events of Roman history.
  • Blood from Every Orifice:
    • This happens to Ananias and Sapphira after their infamous act of fraud. It's graciously cut out in the latter's case.
    • This begins to happen to Simon the sorcerer after Peter rebukes him for his simony. However, this stops when Peter begs God for mercy.
  • The Caligula: The Trope Namer himself shows up, being portrayed as insanely-spoiled and responsible for the murder of his uncle Emperor Tiberius. "Caligula" is correctly said to be an Embarrassing Nickname.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Caiaphas's wife gets some scenes as well despite not appearing in the Bible, since according to the historian Josephus she existed (Caiaphas is identified as a son-in-law of the previous high priest Annas, who also appears in the Bible).
    • Peter is given a daughter, though this is plausible as the Bible mentions his wife and mother-in-law.
  • The Cassandra: Pilate's wife Claudia, to some extent. Everything she tries to tell or convince Pilate to do regarding the Jews, the Christians or Caligula is almost often ignored, with her fears coming true only after it's too late.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod Antipas and Emperor Tiberius all show this in one form or another. Considering they face the perceived threat of the growing Christian community (with the power relations they have built up with each other, all in order to preserve the tenuous peace between Judea and Rome, fraying the edges), you can understand why they are stressed out of their wits. For the Christians, Peter gets hit hard with this, as he sacrifices his home life with his daughter Maya to lead them.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Leah goes from backstabbing her father and brother, to backstabbing the Zealots, to backstabbing her husband. This ultimately gets her killed.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Whether crucifixions, floggings, or branding with hot coals, the Roman centurions have it down to routine.
  • Crusading Widow: Boaz's fiancée Eva eventually joins the Zealots after his capture and execution. She seems to have gained their trust too, considering she becomes their gatekeeper and a recruiter, who confronts Simon (the Zealot) after he seemingly has a falling-out with the apostles regarding Saul's baptism.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pilate gives off this impression with some of his statements.
    Caiaphas: "[Jesus] spread rumor that He would rise from His own death after three days."
    Pilate: "Roman Crucifixion really doesn't allow for that, Caiaphas."
  • Depraved Homosexual: The portrayed "friendship" between Caligula and Herod Agrippa is filled to the brim with every interaction they have, and they are not hesitating to harass other people too.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Caligula's command to place a golden statue of himself in the Temple of Jerusalem throws the already-precarious relationship between Pilate and the Jewish leaders out of whack. Threats of revolt and war were pretty much thrown between Pilate, Caiaphas and Antipas due to this.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: Philip the deacon/evangelist has this hair.
  • The Fundamentalist: Saul was a dyed-in-the-wool partisan of the Sanhedrin, with his venal opposition to what Jesus and the early Christian community represents terrifying to behold. This, of course, was virtually wiped out after his encounter in Damascus with Jesus.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
  • Hot-Blooded: Stephen the Proto-martyr is portrayed in this fashion, with this getting him killed (as noted above). Saul himself became very enthusiastically violent after he gained authority to suppress the Christians.
  • Ironic Echo: In the sixth episode, Saul breaks up a gathering of Christians within Jerusalem. Peter and Saul have this confrontation:
    Peter: You and your men are no match for the fire of the Holy Spirit that fills us.
    Saul: Really? Well, let's see whose fire burns brightest, shall we? Take them!'
    • Later, when Saul torches the Christian camp outside Jerusalem and the Apostles are making their getaway:
      Peter: (carrying a torch and about to light the pitch he poured across the now-abandoned camp) Let's see whose fire burns brightest now!
  • It's Personal: At first, Peter is understandably reluctant to embrace the converted Saul because he had threatened his daughter.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Caligula to Pontius Pilate, Claudia, and all who in are his presence once he becomes The Emperor.
  • La Résistance: The Zealots appear, stalking Roman soldiers to stab them. But in the first episode this is averted when the Romans notice and get away. Later, apostles Matthew and Simon are mistaken for Zealots while they are sneaking into Jerusalem. They run away only to be accosted by real Zealots.
  • Lady Macbeth: Caiphas's wife Leah and Pilate's wife Claudia embody this in one way or another. Leah panders to most stereotypes of it (being the one to more often than not scheme and plot behind Caiaphas's back to help him discredit the Apostles), while Claudia seems to be a more benevolent one (trying her best to rein in Pilate's tyrannical actions against the Jews and politically maneuvering him between Tiberius and Caligula).
  • Large Ham: In true Bible Times fashion, the Apostles tend to hog the scenery when they preach. Saul of Tarsus is no slouch in the department either.
  • Mercy Kill: When Boaz is being tortured to death in public by the Romans, his superior, named Levi, shoots him dead from a rooftop.
  • The Mole: Mary Magdalene apparently chose to go undercover and join Pontius Pilate's household, in order to find out the political maneuverings amongst the Jewish and Roman officials which will endanger Christians.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Cornelius has this moment after he executes Joanna. This causes him to turn to Christianity for forgiveness.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Cornelius' attitude to Pilate.
    Cornelius: "I'm a soldier. I don't have opinions. And Rome only thrives because men like me obey orders."
  • One-Steve Limit: In the source material, several people have the same names. This is handled in the show by simply not calling attention to it much. So Simon Peter is just called Peter while Simon the Zealot is called Simon (and his possible link to actual Zealots are omitted, at least at first), etc. An exception is made for Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Similar to The Bible (2013), the angel that opens Jesus's tomb is depicted as a human in armor, only glowing.
  • Out-Gambitted: Pilate's wife Claudia tried to extricate Pilate from his current post via currying good favor with Tiberius into appointing him into a good administrative position in Rome. Pilate's bad relationship with Caligula, however, backfires on the entire plan as Caligula murders Tiberius, assumes the title of Emperor, and revokes this appointment.
  • Pride: Saul's conversation with his fellow Jewish partisans imply that his opposition to the Apostles' ministry is not really entirely doctrinal/ideological, but more about how he cannot accept that God's truth was entrusted to "lowly fishermen" like them and not to a traditionally-elite Jewish man like himself.
  • Put on the Bus: Saul, after Leah and the Zealots put a hit out on him following his conversion.
  • Race Lift: Mary Magdalene, John, his brother James, and Philip are portrayed as having African ancestrynote  and Joanna as South Asian, instead of conventionally Semitic.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate try to give off this impression. (Emphasis on try, however, considering most of their actions end up with them getting a more unsavory reputation against the downtrodden Jewish population, driving them more into the fold of the Apostles.)
    • Rabbi Gamaliel is one for the Sanhedrin as he counsels leniency towards the Christians.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Leah's favorite tactic when convincing people who saw the Apostles' actions to remain silent. Saul also did this to Peter's daughter Maya, which is why it was difficult for Peter to accept his conversion at first.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Looking at it up-close, this is the essence of the relationship between the Tetrarch of Galillee (Herod), the High Priest (Caiaphas) and the Roman Governor of Judea (Pilate): as long as their policies are in sync, peace between Rome and Judea is possible. Deconstructed, however, by the reality that despite these nominal titles, it is still Rome who runs the show. This was Lampshaded by a confrontation between Claudia and Leah, where the former's indignation as a Roman noblewoman at being put upon by a Jewish noblewoman's critique of the current condition becomes the latter's justification of her discontent.
  • Tag Along Kid: Peter's daughter Maya tags along with the disciples in Jerusalem.
  • Team Mom: Mary the mother of Jesus is this to the apostles.
  • Villain Protagonist: Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate are as much protagonists as Peter and the apostles. Caiaphas in particular may be considered an Anti-Villain.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate and the Zealots are only concerned with their nation's security, and are willing to kill or let people die for it.
  • You Monster!: Uttered by Claudia to Pilate in the eleventh episode, after he tells her that Joanna is going to be executed.