NBC Resurrects Daniel Online

NBC will temporarily resurrect The Book of Daniel by streaming the show’s three unaired episodes online for free. The first unaired episode is available online now through Friday at NBC.com, and the network will then put up a new episode each of the next two Fridays (Feb. 3 and 10) at 8 pm ET.

NBC pulled the plug last week on the midseason drama, with no further episodes currently scheduled to air on the network.

The controversial show, featuring Aidan Quinn as a priest with a challenging family life, aired its fourth and final episode Jan. 20. The show averaged just a 2.3 rating/6 share in the 18-49 demo over its three-week run (the first week featured two episodes back-to-back).

The show’s ratings in the demo had trended down each week, from a 2.7 the first week to a 2.2 and then a 1.9 on Jan. 20. That final airing attracted just 5.8 million viewers overall.

NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly was upfront about the show’s challenges prior to the decision, saying recently the show was "not quite pulling the numbers we were hoping for. It’s having a tough time finding an audience."

Reilly also said the show had faced "tough sledding on the advertising front." The controversial nature of the show had caused nine NBC affiliates to decide not to air the show at one time or another.

Reilly actually joked to reporters about the lack of advertisers in the most recent episode, which was heavy on network promos during commercial breaks.

"Well, Mattress King has stepped up, and he's going to sponsor the entire hour," Reilly quipped. "Look, we knew there was going to be fallout because advertisers take a cautious approach to risky shows."

The show was from NBC Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television.

The American Family Association (AFA), which has recently become more active in rallying members to protest TV content, had asked members to e-mail stations and the network to protest the show, which the AFA felt mocked Christianity.

But mainstream critics had also pointed to a show that seemed calculated to offend, including storylines of a drug-addicted priest, his drug-selling daughter, affairs by bishops, a Catholic priest with mob ties, and jokes at the expense of a woman with alzheimers.

NBC had defended the show, which opened to mixed reviews, saying: "We're confident that, once audiences view this quality drama themselves, they'll appreciate this thought-provoking examination of one American family." --John Eggerton contributed to this report.