Easter around the dial
By Devin D. O'Leary
TV-wise, Easter isn't nearly as big a holiday as, say, Christmas. Sure, there are a few seasonal specials and the occasional holiday classic. (What would Easter be without a few Cecil B. DeMille epics?). But there aren't usually enough programming choices to fill up your entire day off. That doesn't mean, of course that you can't try.
Assuming you're not off at church or out watching The Passion of the Christ or something, you can turn on the tube shortly after waking up and hunting down whatever sugary treats the Easter Bunny left on your front lawn. Discovery Channel gets Biblical on us most of the day. Among the lineup of shows are “Mary: Mother of Jesus” (Discover 10 a.m.), “Peter: Jesus' Fisherman” (Discovery 11 a.m.), “The Real Disciples of Jesus” (Discovery 12 p.m.), “Who Was Paul?” (Discover 1 p.m.), “The Real Mary Magdalene” (2 p.m.) and “The Spear of Jesus” (Discovery 2 p.m.).
Cartoon Network starts out secular with “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (Cartoon 10 a.m.), the 1971 Rankin/Bass stop-motion special featuring Casey Kasem as the voice of Peter and Vincent Price as the voice of the evil robot Irontail. Weird. The toon dealers get religious afterwards, though, with a broadcast of the mediocre musical drama Joseph: King of Dreams (Cartoon 11 a.m.) starring Ben Affleck as the well-dressed Biblical prophet and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, as Judah. ... OK, the casting on that one is weirder.
Turner Classic Movies drops a couple Biblical epics itself starting with King of Kings (TCM 10 a.m.) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (TCM 12:30 p.m.)—both of which feature 98 percent less bloodshed than Mel Gibson's recent money-grubber. If you're looking for fewer guys in robes and more gals in sequins, you can tune back in later on for Easter Parade (TCM 6 p.m.). It's got Judy Garland and Fred Astaire singin' and dancin' it up to the tunes of Irving Berlin.
Fox Family takes a break from “Full House” reruns for a couple cartoon classics. “The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town” (FOX Family 11:30 a.m.) has got the aforementioned Fred Astaire doing narrating duties in this 1977 Rankin/Bass toon. It's followed by another Rankin/Bass outing, 1976's “The First Easter Rabbit” (FOX Family, 12:30 p.m.), which—oddly enough—features the music of the aforementioned Irving Berlin.
Primetime is a mixed basket of goodies. The religious theme of the day holds on in a few corners of the dial. PBS explores The Life of Jesus Christ (KNME-5 7 p.m.), a musical drama recounting the life of Christ with a 300-voice choir, while A&E digs up the dirt in its documentary “Vatican Revealed” (A&E 8 p.m.). FX Network's made-for-TV flick Redemption (FX 8 p.m.) sounds religious, but it's star comedian Jamie Foxx as the founder of the notorious street gang the Crips, who now sits on death row and writes children's books. CBS, unable to land Mel Gibson's current film does the next best thing, airing his jingoistic Civil War film The Patriot (KRQE-13 7 p.m.). NBC sticks with the patriotic theme, rounding up grizzled Tom Skerritt, grizzled Scott Glen and soon-to-be-grizzled Grant Show for the almost timely made-for-TV flick Homeland Security (KOB-4). ABC, unable to find anything that even remotely ties in with the holiday, simply settles on a couple dumb bunnies. “The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour” (KOAT-7 8 p.m.) is pretty much the final step in transforming Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson into this generation's Sonny and Cher. At that point, you are authorized to take two Marshmallow Peeps and go to bed.
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