The Watchman: Jesus’s Posse Makes History, truTV Comedy Catches Fire

Senior content producer Michael Malone’s weekly look at the programming scene
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Jesus: his life begins on History March 25. The eight-part series looks at Jesus the man, not Jesus the Messiah. Each episode is told from the perspective of someone who knew him, including mother Mary, father Joseph, John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, traitorous Judas and Mary Magdalene.

The series is a mix of scripted stuff and interviews with experts, including famed televangelist Joel Osteen. “It’s a really emotional and different approach to Jesus’s life,” executive producer Jane Root said.

'Jesus: His Life and Times'

'Jesus: His Life and Times'

The idea was a TV special where people who know a celebrity before they get famous share their insights. “The people in this program don’t yet know they’ll be in the Bible,” Root said.

Jesus: His Life was shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco, where Gladiator and The Garden of Eden were shot. Root calls it “a really storied” place to film. She also notes the international cast and crew that made for a “truly global show.”

History airs two back to back episodes of Jesus every week, the finale happening days before Easter.

So what makes Jesus timely today? “Jesus is still worshipped by millions and millions of people around the world, but in different ways,” Root said. “It’s a different Jesus that means different things to different people.”

And Tacoma FD, from the guys behind cult cop comedy Super Troopers, starts on truTV March 28. It looks at a fire department in a very rainy city. “Light on blazes that need extinguishing, these firefighters keep themselves entertained with creative competitions, friendly first-responder rivalries and no shortage of bizarre emergency calls,” truTV said.

Co-creators Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme star. They said a true firefighter comedy has not really been done. Of course, there was Rescue Me on FX. Heffernan noted how the Denis Leary series effectively captured the firefighter downtime and “familial aspects” of a department that Tacoma FD seeks to depict, but that series “was ultimately, at its heart, a drama.”

Key sources on Tacoma FD include Bill Heffernan, Kevin’s cousin and a firefighter in the West Haven, Connecticut, FD, and Brian Quinn of Impractical Jokers, a former FDNY member.

Heffernan’s and Lemme’s highlights? For Lemme, episode three, when Tacoma FD introduces its first woman firefighter to the department. Firehouses were built for men, he said, which can make for some awkward moments for ladies. Heffernan mentions Full Moon Night — how crazy stuff often happens when a full moon looms above, and firefighters are called upon to sort things out.

The series has fun with what the creators call the “inane calls” firefighters get from stricken community members. “People’s appendages getting stuck in things,” said Heffernan. “Things getting stuck in people’s appendages.”

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