To start out, I have seen this miniseries, and I have read some of the reviews. A lot of people are comparing this miniseries to the Charlton Heston 1956 version. I have seen both the 1956 version and the silent Ben Hur (in fact I own both on DVD), and one cannot compare this to either of those movies on any level, and in my opinion, for obvious reasons. Not to be tedious and repetitive of other reviewers, I still feel the need to clarify some things, in the defense of this miniseries. First, it is not "A Tale of the Christ", as is lauded in the 1956 version. Quite frankly, the 1956 version is not "a tale of the Christ" either. It is a tale about the relationship of two boys of different ethnicities, who grow apart as they become adults because of the life paths that they have taken, and because of their times and social situations. Jesus Christ is kind of a sub plot if you will. Basically, Judah and Messalla's story is set in the first century during the time and happenings of Jesus Christ. That's it. Neither has anything to do with Jesus Christ necessarily, other than how Judah and Jesus' paths happen to cross. Therefore, telling the public not to watch this for Easter, or for the holiday's is kind of silly, since neither movie is really a "holiday" movie. The networks run these films during the holiday's for ratings and such.
Second, this Ben Hur is a miniseries and it is clear that it was made on a small budget, therefore comparing it to a Hollywood epic block buster is unfair. The 1956 movie won a record 11 Academy Awards and is one of the best movies ever made in Hollywood. But also, in fairness to this miniseries, these young actors did the best they could with the experience that they have. I don't think their acting is all that bad. Again, one cannot compare these young actors to Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd. By the time of the 1956 Ben Hur, Heston and Boyd were veteran actors with a pantheon of experience and credit to their credentials. They were part of the MGM studio system where they were groomed and nurtured and coached to be the very best. Hollywood is not like that today, in 2014. The studio system and the glory days of Hollywood are long gone, and so is some of the quality. These young actors need time to gain some experience, do more projects, and maybe in time they will develop into actors like Heston and Boyd. Liz Taylor didn't start out as an amazing actress. She was in some flops. However, she evolved into the legendary actress that she later became.
Third, I must have missed something but I didn't see a whole lot of sex and nudity as some of the reviewers claim there to be in this miniseries. If the scene's containing nudity that I saw where that offensive to some viewers, then all I can say is that those reviewers haven't seen much TV lately. This miniseries is nothing in the nudity or sex department compared to Starz's SPARTACUS series. All of them. Or HBO's ROME, or SHOWTIME'S THE TUDORS, or THE BORGIA'S. Not to impugn the opinion of other reviewers, but those miniseries that I just mentioned above has 10x's the nudity, sex, blood and gore that the 2010 Ben Hur has .... and the SPARTACUS series is thought by some, to be soft porn. Therefore, I'd say that some reviewers are over reacting concerning the nudity in this miniseries, unless I totally missed those scenes all together.
I'll end by recalling what I liked about this miniseries. I liked how it portrayed their youth and friendship. This one tells you "what happened" in their youth that played a part in the tensions that were present when they reunited years later. The 1956 version does not set one up that way. In the 1956 version, the prologue is the birth of Christ ( which I view as the authors way of setting up the time frame) and then the movie starts. They are adults already when the film starts, and we as an audience must surmise what their friendship as children were like.