When I asked Burnett about this, he seemed genuinely insulted.
"Based on viewership, maybe I should be giving a few lessons to the people who are doing stories. Because we have five nights of No. 1 wins on prime-time television," he started. "As a family we've made over 2,000 hours of American television and 8,000 worldwide."
As he cooled down, ticking off a list of reasons why he and his wife were best suited for the job, he delved into how this project was made.
The production, he insisted, was a lot more like the production that goes into "Survivor" than nearly any feature film or television show in production.
"Survivor" typically includes a cast and crew of 400 people in a remote location with multiple helicopters and boats.
To film the Bible series, they set off for the southern tip of Morocco in Africa with a similar-size crew and hundreds of extras. Not to mention the chariots and horses.
"It was epic," Downey said.
"Our experience with large-scale productions was very, very important," Burnett said.
To help further bring the story to life, they brought in Lola, an Oscar-winning CGI team from London who created similar scenes for the film "Gladiator."
They went with an international ensemble for the cast because they didn't want to distract the audience with recognizable celebrities.
Jesus was played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado. Many other actors came from the Theatre District in London.
The most recognizable face to most in North America will be Downey herself, who stepped into the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary is portrayed in the series as a young woman at the Nativity, then later in life.
"It was a privilege to play it," Downey said. For nine seasons, Downey starred in the CBS show "Touched by an Angel," then went on to star in a number of TV movies.
"The scripts at one point just said Young Mary, and then as the scripts progressed it said Old Mary. I said, 'OK, we have to change that right now.' The last thing I need to see is 'Old Mary' played by Roma Downey," she said with a laugh. "So we changed it to Mother Mary."
The budget for the 10 hours was under $22 million, Burnett said, a small price tag for a production on such a grand scale. (NBC paid $4 million per episode for the show "Smash" this season, according to an estimate by the New York Times)
"It's not easy, even for us, to sell and get placed on prime time television, 10 hours -- Genesis to Revelation," Burnett said. "Do we wish we had 25 or 100 [hours], yes but we got 10. We got a great budget. It looks like it's a $200 million movie. Of course it's not. It's just our combined experiences, our hearts and efforts that make it look like that."
Getting it right
As they considered which parts of the Bible to shoot, they had to pare down hundreds of stories.
"The first decision was, it's one story," Burnett said. "It's not a series of unconnected stories, it's one grand narrative."
"You could call it the meta narrative."