The Chosen, Season 2 (Series Review)

Producer of Bible-Based TV Show 'The Chosen' Shares S2 On-Set Update

Plot Summary

After Jesus launched his public earthly ministry and took it to the next level by going to Samaria, the disciples thought that everything would be easy for them. However, things don’t pan out the way that they expect as they struggle with group dynamics, dark pasts, and outside opposition. In the end, as Jesus prepares for a sermon that will take His ministry to the next level, the disciples have to come to terms with what their new life means and what the Messiah has come to truly accomplish.

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Many aspects of the production of Season 2 have greatly improved from Season 1, most notably the camera work, sets, and locations. However, for the most part, this talented team retained the authenticity and grittiness that was captured in Season 1 despite having more to work with. Camera work, video quality, and audio are all top-notch. Sets, locations, and props are realistic and culturally accurate. There are virtually no editing problems, so the only minor nitpick here is the fact that a few key moments are lacking the soundtrack that has come to be one of the core tenets of The Chosen. It’s unclear why this was the case, but it takes the wind out of the sails in certain circumstances. Nonetheless, this is another top-quality production that’s worthy of a high score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

It’s undeniable that the writers of The Chosen put much effort into making sure that the narrative is engaging and as accurate as possible. Season 2 is full of relatable and deep character arcs that portray the human experience and progress in realistic ways. Dialogue and conversations are excellent although slightly lacking some of the philosophy that we grew to love in Season 1. In Season 2, we get to watch a plausible interpretation of how the disciples might have interacted and how outside groups like the Pharisees and Romans may have approached Jesus in His early earthly ministry. There’s no doubt that the creators took the storytelling of the series to the next level by building intrigue and backstory for the outside events that were likely surrounding Jesus’ earthly ministry. For the most part, all characters are depicted as nuanced and motivated by various factors rather than all good or all bad. Further, the world-building in this season is superb as the writers demonstrate firm commitment to exploring and portraying the first-century Jewish culture in which Jesus lived. The main contention in this section that prevents a perfect score is the somewhat disjointed ending to the season. Some leaps in logic are taken to force a certain point, and the core philosophy of the show is temporarily abandoned just so certain moments can happen. This conclusion seems out-of-place compared to the rest of the season, which is disappointing since it’s the last thing that is seen. Nonetheless, there is still plenty to celebrate in this season as this plot is still very high quality.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

For the most part, The Chosen, Season 2 picks up right where the first season left off in the acting department. Sporting an extremely talented cast of culturally authentic members, the learned accents enhance the realistic experience. Nearly 95% of all performances are very strong, including emotions and line delivery in key moments. However, there are a few missteps that keep this section from being perfect. For instance, Noah James is expected to do a lot more than his acting range allows him to do, which is a drag. Other scenes are obviously one-takes due to extenuating circumstances, so this is an unfortunate fact. In the end, however, this section still receives a very high score due to loaded talent.

Continuity Quality (3 points)

The writers of The Chosen are clearly skilled in establishing setups and payoffs in their narratives. In Season 2, character arcs and storylines are also superb. No scene is wasted, and logical reasons are given for why things happen. As previously mentioned, the world-building of this series is unparalleled as the viewer is drawn into an authentic experience in first-century Judea. There are virtually no errors in this section.

Conclusion

The Chosen, Season 2 receives one x-factor point for attention to detail and making everything count. However, unlike the first season, this follow-up seasons does not receive the other x-factor point for rewatchability. It was evident during the lead-up to this season that Season 2 would be one that sets up many future events, and this assertion was definitely true. Set-up is necessary, but it doesn’t always produce rewatchability. Nonetheless, we respect what is being done here since it will hopefully make future seasons even better. One word of caution that we have to offer is that, much like Jesus’ ministry in the series is becoming more popular, as The Chosen increases in real-world popularity, especially among the Christian elite, the creative team will face an even more daunting task of avoiding the accidental creation of an echo chamber. We love The Chosen and everything that they are doing, and there were many enjoyable moments that make Season 2 worth your time (and land the season on the Hall of Fame). Because we care about The Chosen and the team behind it, we feel the need to offer a small warning about the future of this series: don’t let it go the way of all Christian projects. Stay committed to being different and doing what God wants you to do.

Final Rating: 11.5 out of 14 points

The Chosen, Season 1.2 (Series Review)

Image result for the chosen season 1 jesus
The Critically Acclaimed Hit Series Completes Its First Season

Plot Summary

After Jesus chose a majority of His followers, He began to slowly but surely reveal His nature to the world through public miracles and teachings. Though He mostly ministered in obscurity, His work drew the attention of multiple different spheres of influence: common people, powerful politicians, and power-hungry religious leaders. However, Christ never discriminated in who He chose to follow Him as He broke down social and cultural barriers in order to proclaim His love for all humanity.

Production Quality (2.5 points)
Much like the first half of Season 1, this season’s second half boasts a very high-quality production that both lives within its means and makes the most of what it has. Though camera work can be a bit shaky at times, much like the former half, there are virtually no other production flaws to note here. Video quality and audio quality are both flawless as the camera captures poignant scenes that feel like real life. Sets, locations, and props are incredibly authentic and demonstrate extreme care for historical accuracy and attention to detail. Perhaps the most impactful element of the production is the exquisite soundtrack that is creatively and artistically placed to enhance key moments and to draw the audience into the story’s emotional experiences. Further, editing is seamless and presents a well-crafted plot in a professional manner. In the end, Dallas Jenkins and his very talented creative team have once again showcased their God-given talents in a very responsible manner that has revolutionized Christian entertainment at a time when it was desperately needed.

Plot and Storyline Quality (3 points)
However, there’s still more to say. It’s undeniable that the extreme humanity of The Chosen’s characters are what make the series more than a run-of-the-mill Bible drama. Tyler Thompson and the other writers clearly went great lengths, as prompted by the Holy Spirit, to not only ensure the accurate cultural profiles of the characters but to also make them very flawed and relatable to all audiences, which is something other Biblical productions have been allergic to. The Chosen doesn’t just show the viewers a collection of well-known miracles and stories: the lead-up and fallout of each important event is carefully crafted and woven together with other intriguing subplots. All of this is good enough without even mentioning the way some scenes are presented in artistic manners that are nearly flawless in their presentation. Dialogue and conversations between characters are very deep, meaningful, and even philosophical at times, which is something we rarely see in Christian entertainment. Basically, there are more positive qualities in this section than can be named, which has warranted a separate discussion on how the subplots interlock and interact. In the end, The Chosen creative team has transformed the development of series and characters in Christian entertainment, and there’s no going back from here.

Acting Quality (3 points)
With virtually the same cast from episodes one through four plus others who add more life than there already was, the acting of episodes five through eight does not waver from its previously perfect score. In fact, many of the cast members build off of their roles and become even more comfortable in their characters. Emotions are right on target such that they can be felt by the viewers, and line delivery is basically perfect. This cast is so heavily talented that it’s posing a good problem for Box Office Revolution’s upcoming Actor and Actress of the Year Awards, which is a type of dilemma we have unfortunately never been faced with in our reviewing experience.

Continuity Quality (3 points)
Continuity is where many Christian series completely drop the proverbial ball because the episode are often disconnected and self-contained. However, every episode of The Chosen that has been released so far are somehow able to be both self-consistent as well as connected to the bigger picture, which is an important component of a great series. One way the continuity is best demonstrated in through the use of flashbacks to cover both previously overlooked New Testament stories along with relevant Old Testament accounts, and this latter inclusion is one of the added bonuses of episodes five through eight. Finally, the ending of each episode is epic and demonstrates how much this creative knows what they’re doing and how much they have relied on God to get this project right.

Conclusion

The second half of The Chosen’s first season also receives two x-factor points for presenting the greatest stories of history in the ways they should have been portrayed all along as well as for being re-watchable and binge-able. There’s hardly anything we would want changed about The Chosen at this point except for an even bigger budget to do better things with since Jenkins and the rest have demonstrated an ability to responsibly steward the resources God’s given them. As a side note, we receive no compensation or reward for our reviews and advertising of this series, but we wholeheartedly support its full release and strongly encourage you to both watch Season 1 during this year’s holidays and to share it with as many people as you can. This is first time a season of a Christian series has been critically acclaimed and placed on the Box Office Revolution Hall of Fame. We believe The Chosen has a rare, God-given opportunity to change not only the Christian entertainment world but also Christian culture as a whole because it’s a fresh, high-quality look at well-known stories that are timelessly relevant for all people.

Final Rating: 13.5 out of 14 points

The Chosen, Season 2 (Spring 2021)

Filming Fall 2020 and Winter 2021; releasing Spring 2021

Writer(s): Ryan Swanson, Tyler Thompson, Dallas Jenkins, Kurt Gebhards

Director(s): Dallas Jenkins, Adam Drake, Mitch Hudson

Producer(s): Chad Gunderson, Justin Tolley, Derral Eves, Ricky Ray Butler, Earl Seals, Matthew Faraci, Dallas Jenkins, Ryan Swanson

Starring: Jonathan Roumie, Shahar Issac, Paras Patel, Noah James, Elizabeth Tabish, George Xanthis, Abe Martell, Giavani Cairo, Jordan Walker Ross, Joey Vahedi, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Vanessa Benavente, Brandon Potter, Kirk B. R. Woller, Lara Silva, Kenneisha Thompson, Vanessa DeSilvio, Maz Siam, Shaan Sharma, Ivan Jasso, Amber Shana Williams, Noé de la Garza, Yoshi Barrigas, Austin Alleman, Joseph Campbell, Alaa Safi, Nene Nwoko, Elijah Alexander, David Amito, Josh Zagoren, Luke Dimyan, Charan Prabhakar, Aalok Mehta, Anne Beyer

Plot Synopsis: Season 2 of the groundbreaking new series follows Jesus and His disciples during his earthly ministry outside of Capernaum.  The season overall focuses on group dynamics between the disciples and introduces at least two more key characters.  Jesus and His followers encounter both love and hatred as a result of their newfound popularity.

***CONFIRMED SPOILERS BELOW***

Overarching Season Themes: People finding their place in Jesus’ earthly ministry and the group dynamics of the disciples

Returning Characters: Jesus, Simon, Andrew, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, John son of Zebedee, Big James, Little James, Thaddeus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Thomas, Ramah, Eden, Photina, Neriah, Shmuel, Yussif, Tamar, The First Paralytic, Quintus, Gaius, Rivka, John the Baptizer, Barnaby, Shula

New Characters: Philip, Nathanael, Simon the Zealot, Melech, Rebecca, Chedva, Gershon, Nedim, Kaphni, Yanni, Atticus

Episode 1, Thunder: Jesus and His current disciples enter Samaria and meet up with Thomas and Ramah. Jesus preaches to the people about the parable of the lost sheep, and many believe in Him. Rama’s father Kaphni, after talking to Jesus, gives his daughter permission to travel with the group. After introducing them to everyone in town, Photina invites the whole group over for dinner, but her husband, Neriah, doesn’t know what to think about this. Jesus and His disciples stay at an inn for the night, and they spend several days in Samaria. The Sons of Thunder (John and Big James), after tilling some soil for a disabled farmer, are mistreated by some of the townspeople, who throw rocks at them for being Jews. After being spit on, John and Big James demand that Jesus let them call down fire on the Samaritans, but Jesus tells them that their work is for future generations. Elsewhere, Thomas takes issue with Matthew being in the group due to Matthew’s former tax collection work. Simon and Matthew continue to feud with each other.

Episode 2, I Saw You: Matthew begins to find his place among the disciples, despite the fact that some of them don’t like him. Philip and Nathanael are introduced as characters since John the Baptist refers Philip to Jesus, which prompts Philip to talk to Nathanael about the new Rabbi. Nathanael, an architect, has just gone through a career failure and is skeptical of Jesus. This career failure is related to a building collapsing, and Nathanael believes it’s due to his overconfidence. By the episode’s conclusion, Philip brings Nathanael to Jesus, Who invites them to follow Him.

Episode 3, Matthew 4:24: Based on its titular verse, this bottle episode depicts the current disciples taking turns helping Jesus with the many who are coming for healing. Many of the disciples are tired from their journey and previous work, so as they rest, they discuss what has been happening in the past few weeks. Mary the mother of Jesus joins the group at the beginning of the episode. Mary the mother offers unique insights of her perspective on the situation.

Episode 4, The Perfect Opportunity: This episode includes some type of mid-season cliffhanger where success is within the grasp of the characters yet also far away. It presents a well-known Bible story in a fresh way and somehow involves a wedding and the Healing at the Pool of Bethesda. The episode begins with a montage of scenes depicting a character’s early life, possibly that of the paralytic by the pool. The paralytic is friends with Simon the Zealot. At some point, Simon the Zealot is tasked with assassinating Atticus but is distracted by his friend’s sudden ability to walk. Sometime during this episode, some of the characters enter Jerusalem. Either in this episode or after it, Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue, which draws the ire of Yanni and other Pharisees, who plan what they will do about Jesus.

Episode 5, Spirit: A character goes to a place of ill repute, which may have something to do with Mary Magdalene facing someone from her dark past. At some point, not necessarily in this episode, Jesus and John the Baptist have a long conversation about Jesus’ future ministry. Also, not necessarily in this episode, Shmuel and Yanni begin looking for Jesus by interviewing people in various areas. Yussif also begins looking for Jesus but does so in more covert ways and not necessarily in this episode.

Episode 6, Unlawful: Matthew and Simon son of Jonah search for Mary Magdalene in Jericho. On the Sabbath, Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue. Also on the Sabbath, the disciple group picks heads of grain to eat, possibly to deal with a food shortage. John the Baptizer is taken into Roman custody.

Episode 7, Reckoning: If Jesus and His current disciples return to Capernaum by this time, He will have encounters with Quintus and Gaius. In this episode, it seems like, for some reason, that the disciples are split up into pairs of two each. Andrew and Philip try to stop Tamar and the first paralytic from preaching about Jesus. Yussif is somehow involved in this. At some point, not necessarily in this episode, Jesus gives Matthew the text of the Sermon on the Mount before Jesus delivers the sermon in person. Shmuel and Yanni go to a wailing wall in the city of Tiberias.

Episode 8, Beyond Mountains: This episode focuses on a big moment that takes Jesus’ earthly ministry to a new level. It presents a well-known Bible story in a fresh way and very likely involves the Sermon on the Mount. Also, a character wonders if there’s more to life than what he’s currently experiencing. The disciples are struggling with forgiveness and other painful events that have happened throughout the season. Nathanael and Thaddeus construct a stage for Jesus to deliver the Sermon on the Mount from. Eden and Tamar are present at the Sermon on the Mount.

Full of Grace [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Mary the mother of Jesus was one of the most important characters in the Biblical narrative.  She was given the privilege of bringing the Messiah into the world and raising Him as a child.  But as she grew older, she became a follower of her Son, the Savior of the world.  Some believe she had a major impact on the early church and her whole life was a testament to the grace of God.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

In attempts to be artistic, there are some unusual production elements in this film.  For one, camera work is very shaky in parts.  Video quality is strange and there is a lot of poor lighting throughout.  Audio quality is fairly inconsistent, but the soundtrack, though it is sometimes too loud, is at least intriguing and creative.  Furthermore, there are a lot of long and wasted sequences that are overly artistic.  There is also too much recycled footage.  In the end, where this could have been an interesting production, it is just not.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though there are some interesting psychological elements in Full of Grace, like the production, the plot tends to get lost in artistry.  A lot of the story is extremely low-key and almost purposely understated for no particular reason.  There are a lot of scenes of characters sitting around talking about off-screen Biblical and historical events, but Full of Grace commits a common Biblical movie sin by focusing more on extra-Biblical and extra-historical content then on the actual content we have available to us in the Bible and in other historical documents.  Besides this, the characters cannot be connected with because they seem like ethereal, otherworldly figures rather than regular people.  Also, it is very difficult for this film to hold the attention as there is hardly enough content to sustain a feature length film.  This movie seems like it was written for one good scene that has a good message, but this occurs near the end, so it is unlikely many viewers will make it this far.  Unfortunately, Full of Grace is just another Biblical film disappointment.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The one thing this movie got right was culturally authentic casting without BRITISH people.  This is an amazing concept that most never get right.  Thus, though there are some overly dramatic performances, the professional and responsible acting and casting is the standout in this film.

Conclusion

There is so much in the Bible that needs to be made into movies.  The Bible is a historical document filled with real people who encountered God in one way or another, just like we do every day.  It’s time for film makers to dispense with the practice of crafting Biblical characters that we can’t even relate to and start treating Biblical narratives like real events that actually happened.  If this happens on a consistent basis, things will finally begin to change.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points