Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The most controversial -- and one of the shortest-lived -- series of the 2005-2006 network season, The Book of Daniel concerned the troubled family of an Episcopalian priest. Aidan Quinn starred as Reverend Daniel Webster, who dealt with most crises by popping prescription pills and brooding over his inability to "reach" his parishioners. Daniel's wife, Judith (Susanna Thompson), spent much of her time drinking martinis and complaining about lost opportunities; his 23-year-old son, Peter (Christian Campbell), was a neurotic homosexual, still plagued by guilt over the death of his twin brother; 16-year-old daughter Grace (Alison Pill) was a would-be manga artist who sold marijuana on the side; and the Websters' adopted Chinese son, Adam (Ivan Shaw), was more concerned about scoring with chicks than anything else. Adding to Rev. Webster's burden was the remonstrative input of no-nonsense Bishop Beatrice Congreve (Ellen Burstyn) and rule-bound senior parish warden Roger Paxton (Dylan Baker). Whenever things became too much to bear for Rev. Webster, he would solicit the advice of his "best friend," Jesus Christ (Garret Dillahunt) -- yes, that Jesus Christ, beard, white robes, and all. It was the calculatedly irreverent portrayal of the Son of God (who trafficked in wisecracks rather than parables) that stirred up the bulk of the controversy surrounding the series. While many big-city critics liked the show, general audiences could not warm up to it at all. Debuting January 6, 2006, on NBC, The Book of Daniel had been slated for a six-week trial run before going to full series; slaughtered in the ratings and roundly condemned by conservative media commentators, it lasted only four episodes before cancellation.