Producer(s): Andrea Logan White, David A. R. White, Bradley Dorsey? Bruce Marchiano?
Starring: Brooke Becker, Gina Simms, Bruce Marchiano, Shari Rigby, Michele Gomez, Ashley Bratcher, Bradley Dorsey, Brooke Becker, Ty Anaya, Josh Tipis, more TBA
Plot Synopsis: What would you do if you had an encounter with Jesus? In the first episode, Lily is devastated when her idea of a perfect wedding doesn’t go so perfect. She and the other characters will discover what happens when Bruce Marchiano Jesus steps in. Currently slated for 8 episodes with the first one airing January 29th, 2020 (maybe) on Pureflix.com.
When someone is going about their everyday activities, they never know what is about to happen or who they are about to meet. They all have struggles and secrets that they don’t want anyone to know, but they would be free if they just knew someone they could trust them with. But people never know when they are about to meet Someone Who will change their life forever. They never know until they have their own Encounter with Jesus.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
The Encounter series follows a typical production formula that PureFlix has been using for years. They check the boxes for making the production look good on the surface, including video quality, audio quality, sets, props, and locations. The soundtrack is sometimes engaging but mostly standard. Sometimes there is too much shaky camera work, especially in the poorly shot actions scenes. The biggest issue here is that large amount of wasted time throughout the series. Most episodes are 25-28 minutes long, but the plots are usually so thin that this is too much time. The exception to this is of episodes one and four, which will be discussed later. But in the end, this series demonstrates an overall typical and average production effort.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
For eight episodes, The Encounter rehashes the same types of ideas, concepts, and conversations over and over again, just with different characters. Outside of episodes one and four, there is no creativity here, as the opening sequence tells you what’s going to happen in each episode. Besides being predictable, these stories are also very quick and punctuated, like they’ve been made in a quick plot factory. While there are some good issues raised in the series, there are too many quick fixes and easy solutions based on creepy and plastic Jesus dialogue. Thus, the messaging is quite shallow. However, there is some potential here, as the first episode is very interesting and should have been the focus of the whole series so we could have gotten to know these characters better. Also, the fourth episode would have made an interesting movie, if done properly. But overall, this series just hops from high point to high point and discards substance and realism along the way. It’s a good idea done very poorly.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
While there are bright spots in this large scale cast, there are also plenty of issues. For one, it seems like Bruce Marchiano, who has done well portraying Jesus in the past, has lost his touch. Other cast members are typical PureFlix standbys and rejects who seem to be lazy and phoning in their performances. But as it is, it just comes out as average.
Continuity Quality (0 points)
When the same ideas repeat over and over again in each episode and new characters are constantly being introduced, there is no chance or hope for continuity in this season. There are no story arcs or character arcs. We need to see what happens to these characters after their initial encounters, which is why it would have been great to have the characters from the first episode be the main focus of this series. Yet the way it has been done is shallow and lazy, thus warranting no points here.
There’s nothing wrong with having Jesus intervene in everyday situations, but spitting out a whole bunch of episodes that are all basically the same doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s easy to create a bunch of surface characters and then leave them; it takes true skill to craft meaningful characters that we can connect with. It’s also a great idea to create a Christian series, but we need something better than this. We need sustainable ideas that make people want to follow a set of characters across an arc. PureFlix has the resources to do this, but will they?