That was one of the terms used by a panelist on the discussion program following Discovery’s "The Tomb of Jesus Revealed" to describe the program. We watched the entire two hour program and found the ideas intriguing, albeit not "compelling" as Simcha Jacobovici, the filmmaker, contends. I found it to be about as intriguing as Dan Brown’s "The Da Vinci Code." However, while that novel clearly sold itself as a work of fiction, this documentary tries to sell itself as fact, and that’s where the problems enter.
Some would completely dismiss the evidence presented in the show because "that ain’t what my King James Authorized 1611 says." Some would disregard it regardless of how compelling the evidence might be because it conflicts with their faith. However, for now let’s leave those out of the equation. We need to look specifically at the evidence as presented. It’s clear that this was meant as entertainment. The fact that this purports to present actual evidence (as opposed to the Da Vinci Code) really doesn’t matter. The information in the documentary hasn’t been subjected to peer review nor to strict standards that science requires. Until such time as that happens, the "Tomb of Jesus" remains an intriguing bit of entertainment, but not much more than that. The tomb was discovered in 1980, and this information has been around for 27 years now. I have to wonder why such studies haven’t been conducted by other archeologists.
As one might imagine, the panel discussion afterward was quite heated, and that’s without the true religious fanatics taking part. Jacobovici was quite defensive. However, I imagine he’s been under attack from all directions for even making such a suggestion. Being sensitive about his work and defensive would be understandable. The first part of the discussion pitted the two filmakers against other archeologists, and the second part brought in three different religious scholars.
Of these panels, one woman on the second panel made the most cogent argument for accepting this purely on the basis of entertainment, pointing out the hanging questions left before each commercial break, and the dramatic re-enactments of various historical events. I think she hit it spot on. I would compare it to a Rush Limbaugh show (which I would consider to be "newsporn.") It’s presented in a format that appears to be presenting facts, in a manner that incites emotions and reaction.
Having lived in the Bible Belt all my life, I could just imagine what would happen if such a panel discussion took place here. Basically, it woul degenerate into a narrow-minded diatribe against the film. I was pleased to see Koppel put together an intelligent discussion which focused on the evidence, rather than emotion.
Oddly enough, right after the discussion panel, Discovery aired "Noah’s Ark – the Search for Truth." More archeoporn.