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Wednesday: This isn't a story about Miles Peterson.

[Mid-career Bibleman, in armor.]Now, Miles Peterson had everything -- money, fame, power -- until he lost it. (You can take that however you choose; the net effect was the same.) From the ashes of suicidal despair, Miles rose to embrace Divine force and combat evil. He built a cave of sanctuary and a base of operations beneath his manor home. He built a lightsaber and a full suit of colorful armor, patterned after Ephesians 6, that he might better stand upon the Gospel.

Miles Peterson was a man in a crucible. Now, he's Bibleman.

Christian-themed children's television, in the years since Davey and Goliath, has been very much a cesspool. Its most remarkable shows have engendered, in spite of themselves, a colossal sense of what?!; they are not so much encouragements as bizarre memory devices. [Puppet food for Christ!]Production values run the gamut from lavish (such as CGI juggernaut Veggie Tales, particularly the feature film Jonah) to lackluster (errr... like most of the stuff on Smile of a Child, to be honest). The bulk of it has been, errrr...

Well, generally puppets for Christ. Or fursuits for Christ. Or anthropomorphic food for Christ. But we've been over that.

We do enjoy The Bibleman Adventure, strange as it sounds. It has the what factor going quite heavily, but it's self-deprecating as all hell. In a field which consistently takes itself too seriously (apart from Veggie Tales), Willie Aames (yep) and company are fully aware just how ridiculous their concept is, how little logic is really in operation, and how much worse it would be if they couldn't laugh at themselves. It's a sensibility you just don't get out of Colby's Clubhouse.

[That kid is Harleigh Upton, Willie Aames's daughter!]So, we accept a lot that we wouldn't otherwise. We've never grasped why a superhero is asked to spend so much of his time encouraging depressed students from the nearby public school system, but we accept this. We've never entirely understood why he built an AI to serve Christ without being able to confirm whether or not she could have a soul. We certainly don't get why sidekick Biblegirl -- who has cycled through at least two separate visible ethnicities while remaining the same person -- has a gun that she never actually shoots.

And boy, do we dig the transformation sequences.

But this isn't a story about Miles Peterson. We do plan to tell you that story, but not until we get a hold of the unedited DVDs; hopefully we'll get that done before Tommy Nelson relaunch the line later this year. After all, TBN and Smile of a Child may be rerunning the series over and over, but heavily edited for television. You can't possibly discuss Bibleman with true critical authority until you've seen every single musical number.

(Also, we need to get a hold of the entirety of "Shattering The Prince Of Pride," which concerns the perils of consulting with other people to produce your comic's character designs. Or possibly the pressures of working on a licensed newspaper property while getting zapped by demon Borg. I'm never sure. Anyhow.)


[Yep. The Bibleman Show.]No, right now, this is a story about a kid.

Before The Bibleman Adventure, see, there was The Bibleman Show. The concept hadn't really shaken itself out yet, nor had the execution. Or the funding.

[Bibleman likes to hang out at the church services.]Bibleman was around, and lurking, and talking to kids, and fighting light saber battles -- but he was doing so as something of an afterthought. What we were really there to see was apparently an all-singing, all-dancing youth group. Of five kids. With no associated youth pastor, at least in the first two episodes.

Five kids. Best friends, from all indications. Five kids, serving God by constantly rehearsing really, really bad musical numbers to perform in front of their indulgent congregation. (To their credit -- or possibly to their detriment -- the congregation seems suitably appreciative and excited by the whole affair.) It's not clear what good they serve, but apparently their praise and their prayers angers a string of Q-list demons enough to strike against them. One little girl is spurred to lying. A couple of kids are spurred to gossip. That sort of thing.

Bibleman's not got a lot to do yet, so he keeps an eye on the youth group and fights the demons off for them. It's what he does. It's not really an adventure at the moment, and you have to knock off the piddly beasts before you can get to level 1-4 and kill the first Bowser anyhow.

Besides, I can't say as I blame the demons. Since the stakes are so low, they fight fiercely. They're low on the totem pole, and little things irritate them an awful lot.

[ONE TWO THREE FOUR]Like appalling song and dance. I don't think I can emphasize this enough. The first time we hear from these kids, they're singing about the Bible vision they possess. It's important, you understand, to have Bible vision, and you should get Bible vision. For the Lord. You see, he wants you to have Bible vision. I will settle for LASIK after this, I am telling you what.

I have a hard time believing that kids would actually get into the work -- it's not edifying, it's not entertaining, it's not even particularly catchy. Near as I can tell, they raided the clearance sale on Trax tapes at the local Family Christian Stores, only to discover that they didn't have lyric sheets for any of the tapes, and the side with the singing on had been erased in a freak accident. So they dug out as many decontextualized catchphrases as possible, wrote padding aroung them, and practiced like mad. "Someday," they told themselves, "we'll get hired for Dooley and Pals, whose site has a Flash intro with sound."

Furthermore, they dance like overchoreographed mimes. STEP two three four! PLUCK FRUIT two three four! GESTURE TOWARDS THE HEART two three four! Now SASHAY! They do so without much synchronization, as one might expect from a self-trained youth group of five, and enthusiasm levels vary according to archetype. Jodi Sweetin there in front? She's more concerned with your hearing her than anything, and she's just a little bossy. She's gonna be the leader. Littlest girl? Sweet and cute and sad as needed. Little boy at the back right? The one who's too short? God, he wants a tap solo. Other girl? Yeah. She's the other girl.

[Ryan.]And the tallest boy? The one at the back left, with the glasses, sticking his leg out, there? The one you know really, really wants to be in show business, and has a real love of his craft, but just doesn't have the charisma of a Jodi Sweetin lookalike?

That's Ryan.

Ryan's responsible. When rehearsals aren't at school, or at the church, or in the park, they're at his house. On the porch. Ryan keeps the tapes safe (although he gives one of them to the youngest girl, once, while she's demonically compelled to lie about her failures -- not his brightest moment). Secretly, one guesses that Ryan gets very good scores in math, plays trombone in band class, and keeps a secret blog about Hollywood stars.

Ryan is also going to grow up to draw high-profile webcomics.

[The many moods of Ryan: Happy.]

You heard me. That little boy is going to grow up to become David Willis*:

[Smirking!]
* DISCLAIMER: PROBABLY NOT ACTUALLY DAVID WILLIS

Assuming he doesn't, of course, break under the pressure. You know how it goes. You work all week on your Bible vision, your enthusiastic mime-dance, your heel-steppy things and your jazz hands. Inevitably, one or more of your groupmates fall under the thrall of lesser demons. Pretty soon, there's petty lying, transparent gossip, and overenthusiastic efforts to score tap solos in front of the congregation. No one is actually helping you with your jazz hands, figuring out where your leg goes during the big number, or -- goodness knows -- praying the blood of Christ over anything. The big night comes, and this superhero in a purple helmet is out fighting the demons for you! With lightsabers! Total overkill!

What kind of a responsible kid are you? What kind of a group prevents you from demonstrating your responsibility like that? What kind of Christian constantly falls under the thrall of lesser demons?

[And he snaps.]

Suddenly, a career as a puppet vegetable for Christ doesn't seem so bad. Thank goodness he escaped.

Next time: a story about Miles Peterson.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at February 9, 2006 2:19 AM

Comments

Comment from: RoboYuji posted at February 9, 2006 2:49 AM

Man, I was so totally waiting for when you would write about Bibleman. Of course, at the moment my mind is simply boggling at the fact that there were TWO shows . . .

And that kid is SO TOTALLY David Willis!

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at February 9, 2006 3:13 AM

Dear God, can the world handle another David Willis!? Will the world go mad!?

The part that truly scares me is that I am SO tempted to go out and start watching Bibleman now. I mean, I'm a preacher's kid, for crying out loud, and I've never watched a Bibleman. Or Veggie Tales (straight through, anyway). I guess they were just past my time. (I guess I've done my time with "McGee and Me" and, oh what was it, "Gerber"?)

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at February 9, 2006 3:33 AM

The David Willis thing is the funniest thing I have read all week. It even beats the sombrero turtle from Girly.

Comment from: Crazie Sunshine posted at February 9, 2006 3:55 AM

I just want to say that David is about 1 Billion times cuter than Ryan.

Normally, I try to stay above the fray, but I just needed to make that announcement. ;)

Comment from: coldcut posted at February 9, 2006 4:10 AM

I can't help but think of Double Vision by foreigner when I read about a song and dance number about Bible vision:

Fill my eyes with that biuble vision, no disguise for that bible vision
Ooh, when it gets through to me, it╠s always new to me
My bible vision gets the best of me

I did have to google to get those lyrics. And to know that it was done by Foreigner. So there's hope for me yet. Small hope, but hope nonetheless.

Comment from: chalcara posted at February 9, 2006 4:58 AM

You know, the google ads for this snark are really, really funny. XD

Comment from: miyaa posted at February 9, 2006 5:21 AM

1) I'm trying to figure out if you're insinuating that this is David Willis's secret past. Or he has a clone we don't know about. Or if we see David Willis in an alley all alone about ready to scream, we should just run the other way.

2) Interestingly enough, Jodi was last seen on an episode of Yes, Dear in 2003 and in two episodes Party of Five in 1999. According to imdb.com, Miss Sweetin is married, and presently is getting her teaching certificate so she can be a tutor to future child actors, possibly working on yet to be seen TBN children's shows. Oh the horror. And yes, people actually think she's dead.

3) I wonder, is TBN showing the teen series Powerteam, or something like that? It's basically a bunch of very burley men (bodybuilders, weightlifters, etc.) who do things like rip up a really thick telephone book with their bare hands, bend large I-Steel beams, and other kinds of macho feats of strength. Then they follow up with personal testimonies of how they get their strength and conviction from Jesus Christ. And then they do more feats of strength, the kind you'd see on World's Strongest Man competitions. It was really popular in the early 90's.

Comment from: Brian Smith posted at February 9, 2006 6:24 AM

Actually, Jodie Sweetin was last seen on "Good Morning America" on Feb. 1, during which she talked about her methamphetamine addiction.

Her intervention included the Olsen twins, John Stamos and Bob Saget. Seriously.

Brian

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 9, 2006 7:28 AM

Meth addiction. Holy cow. Dammit, why can't people just do whippits?

I just want to say that David is about 1 Billion times cuter than Ryan.

Oh, I'm sure. After all, by the time Ryan grows up and becomes alternative universe David Willis, he'll have totally shed that awkward phase.

I'm trying to figure out if you're insinuating that this is David Willis's secret past.

Nah. Eric and I were catching up on Bibleman over Christmas, and the first thing out of our mouths when we saw this kid dancing frenetically around was: "OH MY GOD, THAT'S WILLIS. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN."

It just took me this long to sort through all the screenshots. :)

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 9, 2006 7:29 AM

Er, over after-Christmas. New Year. That... point in time where the decorations are still up, but nothing's getting pre-empted anymore.

Look, I haven't slept yet.

Comment from: okaynowa posted at February 9, 2006 7:54 AM

A quick check of the trivia-Grail that is the IMDB reveals this Willie Aames did the voice of the ranger in Dungeons & Dragons. You know, the heroic party leader with the glow-arrow bow. I suppose he left that one off of the resume when suiting up for Bibleman.

Comment from: miyaa posted at February 9, 2006 8:14 AM

Jodie reminds me of my cousin, who's presently a ballerina with a company in Peoria, of all places. Freaky. When your "intervention" involves Bob Saget, I'd say that's pretty much hitting bottom.

Comment from: megs posted at February 9, 2006 9:34 AM

THIS right here is why I read websnark.

Also, the bible dancers represent my sunday morning wardrobe from 1987-1991. I'm going to have to thank God next sunday for not allowing many pictures to be taken of me during those moments.

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at February 9, 2006 9:40 AM

Reminds me of a guy in the Freshman Class of '02 (my class) at Texas A&M. He was one of the kids on the original Barney & Friends. I forget the name, but he was the blond kid with the big white teeth. He was on for a while before they dropped him due to his being too old. He told us he got, and was still getting, fan mail as strange as that sounds.

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at February 9, 2006 9:41 AM

Oh, and I forgot to mention:

Funniest. Snark. EVER!

Can Websnark give itself a tasty, tasty biscuit?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at February 9, 2006 9:54 AM

I dunno... after watching The Aristocrats, I don't want to hear anyone badmouth Bob Saget. If you want to take shots at anyone over Full House, go after the writers.

I really hope this is just the beginning of discussion of Bibleman, though. If anything, Wednesday is understating how absurdly hilarious it is. It's the kind of thing you have to see, and even then you might not believe it.

Of course, the discussion of Bible Vision is making me think of a new power for Bibleman. Like he zaps you with eyebeams and you're compelled to recite all of Psalms or something.

And given that he did already guest on Touched By An Angel, would it be that much of a stretch to get Scott Baio on this show?

As for the final point... well, I don't think it's a coincidence that Bibleman is comedy gold.

Comment from: John Fiala posted at February 9, 2006 10:49 AM

You can't possibly discuss Bibleman with true critical authority until you've seen every single musical number.

True Critical Authority - that's a phrase I'm going to giggle over all day.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at February 9, 2006 11:09 AM

It's weird as Hell to type this, but watching Bibleman gave me respect for Willie Aames.

The man referenced Apocolypse Now at one point. Doing a Dennis Hopper imitation.

In an episode he wrote and directed.

That is just one of the moments of sheer Awesome┘ to be found in Bibleman.

Comment from: William_G posted at February 9, 2006 11:12 AM

This looks like the best show on your TV in Hell.

Comment from: ItsWalky posted at February 9, 2006 11:14 AM

What? Miles Peterson doesn't look ANYTHING like Harry Potter.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at February 9, 2006 11:37 AM

Why have I never seen this? I've seen Bibleman Action Figures, I assumed there was a wee comic book, but I'd never heard of this show.

I do remember Superbook. Though for years I thought I'd only imagined it.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at February 9, 2006 11:44 AM

I know that there are all sorts of legal and religious issues that would keep this from officially happening. But wouldn't it be a kick to watch Bibleman Meets Popeman? Or heck, just reading the fanfic would be priceless.

Comment from: Crazie Sunshine posted at February 9, 2006 12:08 PM

Oh, I'm sure. After all, by the time Ryan grows up and becomes alternative universe David Willis, he'll have totally shed that awkward phase.

http://www.joyceandwalky.com/images/piratesofpenzance.jpg



He's the short cute one on the left. Ignore the nasty goliaths to his right. They were the "most popular boys in school", but he lived near a superfund site, and I'm pretty sure stuff leaked into the water supply and ate all the girls' brains.

Comment from: larksilver posted at February 9, 2006 12:11 PM

'scuse me while I recover from the (snerf) giggles here.

My goodness, why have I never seen this before? Now, I must see it, if only so that I can go back and read that already hilarious Snark and really laugh.

David Willis. Ryan. (snerf)

Comment from: ItsWalky posted at February 9, 2006 12:15 PM

I don't know how to tell you this, Crazie, but...

...that's not me. That is an altered photo, part of a recreation of an imagined past. I was not really Samuel in the Pirates of Penzance. I am not really David Willis.

After demons came after me, I entered the Witness Protection Program. I am no longer this Ryan. I was, shall we say, born again.

Crazie. Crazie. Crazie. I'm Bibleman.

Comment from: Bahimiron posted at February 9, 2006 12:20 PM

"When your "intervention" involves Bob Saget, I'd say that's pretty much hitting bottom"
^--Quoted

Aw, that's just mean.

Bob's got a show again! He's hittin' the big time all over the place!

Then again, so does John Stamos.

Why, that intervention was a star-studded extraveganza of Hollywood's glitziest! Quick, someone call Jackie Harvey!

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at February 9, 2006 12:26 PM

This snark has *GOT* to go in the Evergreen section!

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at February 9, 2006 12:40 PM

Bible vision - now THAT is a superpower.

But really, no Christian can beat Veggie Tales in any way, shape, or form.

Oh wheeeeere is my hairbrush?
Oh wheeeeeeeere is my hairbrush?
Oh where oh where oh where oh where
Oh wheeeeeeeeeeeere is my hairbrush?

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at February 9, 2006 12:45 PM

Ah the Hairbrush song. A decent tune, indeed. But it can never beat I Love My Lips.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at February 9, 2006 1:36 PM

But it can never beat I Love My Lips.

Well, what can?

It's weird as Hell to type this, but watching Bibleman gave me respect for Willie Aames.

Willie Ames is an interesting guy. He was once interviewed by the Door (formerly the Wittenburg Door, and now the Wittenburg Door once again, but at that time just the Door) which is a Christian satire magazine that spends an awful lot of time eviscerating Robert Tilton and Benny Hinn and Oral Roberts and that crowd... and during his interview, when asked to explain the show he basically said "look, it's about a middle-aged guy in a ridiculous costume waving around a fake sword, and it's the most fun I've had in show business." I can respect that.

Comment from: Aufero posted at February 9, 2006 1:49 PM

...

Wish I'd known Willie was going to end up as Bibleman when we were in high school choir together, I'd have laughed my butt off. Still, he sounds more likable now than he was back then. (Okay, that's not fair - I wouldn't want to be judged permanently by my 17-year-old self either.)

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at February 9, 2006 2:30 PM

Mr. Wright, for introducing me to the Wittenburg Door, you're my new hero.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 9, 2006 3:09 PM

Wasn't everyone already reading the Wittenburg Door? I'm... *baffled*.

The Mike Yaconelli legacy *and* Joe Bob Briggs. How does one lose?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at February 9, 2006 4:04 PM

What can I say? The antenna in my brain that instantly alerts me of anything remotely interesting must have been broken when the word was sent out.

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at February 9, 2006 5:06 PM

This is...

This is amazing. Willis is Bibleman?

The world as I know it has been turned upside down.

Comment from: storiteller posted at February 9, 2006 5:09 PM

I have to completely agree with the rockingness of Veggie Tales and The Wittenburg Door. Both providing very different, but high quality, entertainment. Veggie Tales is too silly to not like, besides. It's like not liking Wallace and Grommit. For Christian websites, Ship of Fools is also a lot of fun, if only for the Gadgets for God and the Fruitcake Section.

Also, the kids in the musical picture look like they're already possessed by minor demons.

And the Ryan/Willis screenshots are fabulous!

Comment from: ItsWalky posted at February 9, 2006 5:35 PM

"Wish I'd known Willie was going to end up as Bibleman when we were in high school choir together"

I... wasn't in high school choir. Maybe you were in high school choir with Harry Potter!

Comment from: Aufero posted at February 9, 2006 5:40 PM

I'm pretty sure I would have remembered quidditch, but I suppose I'm not completely sure.

Comment from: Escushion posted at February 9, 2006 6:06 PM

"I just want to say that David is about 1 Billion times cuter than Ryan."

But Crazie, you're bias! Imagine more than one David Willis. Imagine!

This is hilarious stuff, Wednesday :D. Now we know the truth.

Comment from: Thomas Blight posted at February 9, 2006 6:16 PM

Wish I'd known Willie was going to end up as Bibleman when we were in high school choir together

I... wasn't in high school choir. Maybe you were in high school choir with Harry Potter!

And here I thought Aufero was talking about Aames.

I'm pretty sure I would have remembered quidditch, but I suppose I'm not completely sure.

I guess I'm wrong though.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at February 9, 2006 6:22 PM

Not only was this post extremely funny, but now I learn of the Wittenburg Door and Ship of Fools (it has a biblical curse generator! This is unbelievable!). This is not going to be one of them productive days. Thanks, Weds and linkers. Plz write more about Christian entertainment k thx bye.

I'm so out of the Christian show scene; I'm so uncool! The only show I used to watch was Super Book when I was a kid, and I was convinced that the name of the show was actually Sugar Puffs, due to old-VHS-tape voice distortion. (does anyone know if Sugar Puffs still exist?). No sweet memories from that show, besides a heavy-duty cookie-eatin' scene in one episode. I can't even remember if there was anything questionable (besides the sentient robot, I guess).

Comment from: Tyck posted at February 9, 2006 6:27 PM

A post, as it were, of Win and Good. Just wonderful.

Wasn't everyone already reading the Wittenburg Door?

A reasonably large number of the reasons I read Websnark have to do with being introduced to things I ought to have been reading/watching/generally aware of, but didn't know were out there.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at February 9, 2006 6:33 PM

A few too many blodgers to the head, David. And some memory curses tossed in for good measure.

Comment from: Aufero posted at February 9, 2006 7:02 PM

And here I thought Aufero was talking about Aames.

I was, but come to think of it, I had a biochem teacher who looked a lot like Snape.

Comment from: miyaa posted at February 9, 2006 8:21 PM

Ship of Fools is great. Check out the archived caption contest photo of Jesus Christ with a Remington Rifle (Oct 2005)! Freaking hilarious!

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at February 9, 2006 8:48 PM

Just read the "You might be Evangelical if.." piece on Wittenburg. I grew up in an evangelical church, and this is bullseye. Awesome.

Comment from: lark posted at February 10, 2006 12:50 AM

So...does this mean it's now "Damned You, Willis!"?

The similarities are...uncanny.

Comment from: lucastds posted at February 10, 2006 12:51 AM

That link... to that article... doesn't work.

Comment from: Aerin posted at February 10, 2006 2:20 AM

From just a few minutes ago at work:

"Odd, I looked over at your screen, and I thought I read 'Suddenly, a career as a puppet vegetable for Christ doesn't seem so bad.'"
"No, you read that right."

Great piece. Though I do sort of think that the Christian entertainment stuff should have its own catagory. I submit we name it "Puppets for Christ."

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at February 10, 2006 3:29 AM

lucastds - Durr. Sorry.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at February 10, 2006 10:16 AM

"Puppets for Christ"...

Man, that makes me think of jokes so wrong, I just offended myself.

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