TBN debuts Christian history series
TBN debuts Christian history series targeting teens and young adults
“Drive Thru History” TV Program Brings Past up to Date
By Dave Bohon, Staff Writer
WDC Media News
Sept 1, 2005 (Los Angeles) Dave Stotts is passionate about travel, history, and helping Christians understand the roots of their faith – not necessarily in that order. The 31-year-old filmmaker is the host of Drive Thru History, one of this season’s most exciting additions to TBN’s television lineup. The half-hour show, geared towards teens and young adults, takes the viewer on a fast-paced and colorful ride to some of the world’s most historically rich locales, offering a birdseye view of the people and events that shaped Western Civilization – and our own Christian faith.
The series is the creation of Stotts and Jim Fitzgerald of Coldwater Media, a Colorado production company that specializes in thought-provoking documentaries on a wide variety of scientific and historic topics, particularly Bible history and archaeology.
“Our goal is to target young audiences and encourage some serious thought about important subjects,” says Fitzgerald.
After working for years as a cameraman and editor, Stotts was asked by Fitzgerald to host his own series. “Jim and I had traveled extensively together working on Coldwater projects like Search for the Real Mount Sinai and The Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant,” recalls Stotts. “We have similar senses of humor and we have a lot of fun interacting with the cultures we visit.”
After tossing around several ideas the pair came up with the concept of Stotts traveling to exotic historical locales in equally exotic cars, offering young viewers fast-paced vignettes about people, places, and events in ancient history that have had a profound impact on who we are today – as Christians and as a culture.
“Our goal is to make history come alive for young people, and to highlight what we think are the clear fingerprints of God in that history,” explains Stotts.
Demonstrating God’s unmistakable imprint on history is what makes Drive Thru History such an exciting experience for viewers. In one episode, Stotts shows how Alexander the Great profoundly re-shaped the world of his time, helping to unify the cultures of the ancient world. In another segment he walks viewers through how the Roman Empire after Alexander unified governments, infrastructures, and a host of diverse cultures across the known world.
Those ancient foundations set the stage for an even more profound change: The introduction of the Christian faith.
“Was it an accident that all this happened just in time for the arrival of Jesus Christ and the spread of this world-changing gospel?” Stotts asks. “Someone with a Christian worldview takes the position that this was no accident.”
While Stotts takes seriously his job of relating history to young people, that seriousness clearly doesn’t extend to his on-camera persona. It’s evident throughout Drive Thru History that Stotts enjoys poking fun at himself. “We love to have fun everywhere we go and interact with the culture in a way that makes the experience memorable to our viewers,” he says.
Take the time in Hierapolis (a city in Turkey mentioned in the book of Colossians) when Stotts had to ride a camel in one segment of the show. “To this day I don’t know why I agreed to do this,” he recalls. “When I got off the camel, the camel handler took my hand and forced it in the mouth of the camel. So here I am, an admitted germaphobe, with my hand inside the mouth of this animal. When I pulled it out it was just covered with whatever disgusting odds and ends were inside this camel’s mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything quite that bad.”
Or how about the time in Rome when Stotts went “toe-to-toe” with a Roman centurion in the Coliseum? “The Coliseum is one of Rome’s biggest tourist attractions and all around it are these guys dressed up like centurions and gladiators,” he recalls. “They spend their time hanging out and taunting tourists, trying to get them to take their picture for a few Euros.”
A couple of these locals were hired as “extras” for a scene Stotts was narrating. When he inadvertently bumps into one of the extras, he suddenly finds himself transported back in time to ancient Rome – dressed as a centurion – where he goes sword-to-sword with a fellow soldier. “This really turned into a hilarious scene because here we are in costume having this sword skirmish, and in the background are all these tourists doing their thing – most totally oblivious to us.”
Added to the comic elements throughout Drive Thru History are the sporty cars Stotts gets to tool around in. They include something called a “Smart Car,” one of those European roadsters that are just the thing for getting around on Rome’s congested avenues. At a mere 98 inches long it might be the smallest road car in the world. And in Greece, Stotts took to the road in a banana-yellow Mini-Cooper. “It jumps right off the screen,” he says.
Stotts emphasizes that the series is produced with an eye to keeping the attention of a younger audience. “I’m not only the host, but I’m also the editor of these shows, and so I keep things moving pretty fast,” he explains. “We don’t spend too much time on any one scene. We realize that our audience has been steady consumers of today’s fast-paced, image-driven TV.”
Each episode is also loaded with plenty of kid-friendly animation the whole family will enjoy, along with colorful maps and time lines that are skillfully combined with live shots to give the viewer a clear understanding of how the ancient past informs their active present.
But Stotts emphasizes that Drive Thru History is at heart not about cool cars or having fun with history. It’s about offering young viewers a close-up of history and the forebears of our faith. “Those men and women of the early church are our brothers and sisters,” explains Stotts. “The Bible calls our Christian ancestors a ‘Cloud of Witnesses.’”
Drive Thru History takes that “Cloud of Witnesses” from the flat pages of history and turns it into a living and breathing parade of the faithful, cheering young viewers on in their own faith.
Drive Thru History made its debut on TBN earlier this year and was enthusiastically received from the beginning, says Paul Crouch, Jr., Vice President of Administration at TBN. “We’re thrilled with how this quality program has engaged our viewers,” says Crouch. “We’re getting great feedback from folks of all ages. Its fun, fast-paced approach to history – particularly Bible history – is not only entertaining, but educational, challenging, and spiritually uplifting.”
Susan Zahn, a faith and family marketing expert and founder of WDC Media, notes that Drive Thru History is on the cutting edge of the positive programming now being produced for Christian television. “It’s programming like this that can reach a whole new generation of viewers with a positive and uplifting faith message,” says Zahn.
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