If host Jeff Foxworthy isn’t the hokiest, down-home-iest person on your TV, you might be watchin’ “The American Bible Challenge.”
As I noted in a recent column, for a smallish network like GSN, gambling on slicing off a chunk of the Christian faithful is a pretty good bet. Whether sufficient numbers really want to watch an exercise such as this, which premieres on Aug. 23, will be one of those tests sure to get people’s attention if it succeeds.
To their credit, the producers aren’t coy about the show’s underpinnings, and they even open the hour with an extended piece on each of the teams, introducing them and spelling out just how devout they are. Like any good gameshow, there’s an Iraq war vet, as well as an in-house choir singing “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” heading into and out of the commercial breaks.
Once they’re into the questions, though, it’s a pretty straightforward quiz show, even with categories like “Lord of the Rings or the Bible?,” or a closing elimination round referred to as the “Final revelation.” (One team kneels and prays as they prep to face off.)
If this all sounds a trifle cheesy — perhaps even pandering — it’s designed for an audience prone to feel their values aren’t represented in a lot of what’s on television. That said, if the Bible isn’t your favorite book, this is clearly not the show for you.
GSN has also been very shrewd about promoting the show (Foxworthy appeared on Fox News, for example), and I think there’s a good chance the program will do well. The question then is, “What next?” Does GSN become build on that success and become the WWJW (as in “What Would Jesus Watch?”) channel? Do other nets rush religious shows onto the air?
At this point, You Know Who only knows.