By now I hope you've read my full “Killing Jesus” report from the set in Morocco, a report that included a number of quotes from veteran John Rhys-Davies, an actor more than willing to offer retrospectives on the entirety of his entire career.
Well, it happens that that career includes an intriguing ordered-straight-to-series-and-the-cancelled-before-airing FOX drama named “Hieroglyph” and it happens that “Hieroglyph” also shot in Morocco. And Rhys-Davies actually brought up “that pilot for FOX” of his own volition.
“'13 on the air, we don't even need to see the pilot. It's gonna be that good.' Yeah, right,” Rhys-Davies said, mocking the network's thought process. “So they screwed everybody's year up by postponing it and postponing it until absolutely five-minutes-to-five on the very last day they said, 'Uh, not gonna do now. No. Can't get scripts of the right quality.' By which time, everyone had cancelled everything else they were gonna be doing for the back part of the year and a lot of people were going, 'Agh.'”
As he notes, “Hieroglyph” was ordered to series, a first episode was shot, but then, after a management shift at FOX, the plug was pulled.
Since “Hieroglyph” has always amused and perplexed me, I asked him a key question: Did *he* think it was gonna be any good?
“I think so. I think we would have had maybe a couple of shaky episodes, as you do, till things settle down. You know, 'It's about this character and this character and their dynamic…' And actually that character works a bit better there and this character… It would have found its place. I think it was different,” Rhys-Davies said. “Imagine 'Game of Thrones' set in ancient Egypt. I think it could have been quite remarkable. Could it have been done on budget? The thing is, when you inherit a show, when the guy who's said, 'Yes, this is what we're going to do,' leaves and goes to another network, you inherit his shows and the one thing that you do not want to do is inherit The Bay of Pigs. This is not a good thing to inherit. So every show has to be looked at with utter suspicion. 'Is this the bomb he has left behind that will ruin my reputation?' And it's part of that sort of politics that killed it as well. The cast was good. I think it could have been very sexy. Lovely production team. I like those writers. They could have delivered the goods.”
So there you go.
“Killing Jesus” airs Sunday (March 29) on National Geographic.