Easter has a surprisingly strong stranglehold on TV. It’s not as pervasive a televised holiday as Christmas (which gives both Lifetime and Hallmark an excuse to produce roughly 20 Santa-based rom-coms every year). But there are enough TV specials, movies and documentaries to fill a weekend. So, in between hunting for Easter eggs, going to church and gorging on ham, what can you look forward to watching this weekend?
Oddly enough, it’s the teen-oriented CW network that fires the first holiday volley with “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (KWBQ-19 7pm). This 1971 stop-motion-animated special features the voices of Danny Kaye, Casey Kasem and Vincent Price. Yes, it’s produced by holiday hitmakers Rankin-Bass (“The Year Without a Santa Claus,” “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year”). And, yes, it’s weird.
There’s still one day to go until Easter, but American Heroes Channel can’t contain its religious fervor. AHC started out life as Discovery Wings Channel, which spent a lot of time gawking at airplanes. It was eventually rebranded as the Military Channel. In 2014 it gave up all pretense of appealing to anyone other than flag-waving conservatives and became American Heroes Channel. Starting Saturday afternoon, the network airs “Secrets of the Bible” (AHC 2pm). No secret will be left standing, as the marathon of episodes goes until 6pm on Sunday night.
Easter Sunday starts bright and early with TCM’s day-long collection of mostly Bible-based films. Choose from Godspell (TCM 3:15am), Barabbas (TCM 5am), Ben-Hur (TCM 7:30am), King of Kings (TCM 11:30am), The Greatest Story Ever Told (TCM 2:30pm), Easter Parade (TCM 6pm), Holiday Inn (TCM 8pm) or The King of Kings (TCM 10pm). ABC keeps up the Bible movie action with perennial favorite The Ten Commandments (KOAT-7 6pm). ABC Family goes a bit more secular with the 2011 computer-animated fantasy Hop (ABC Family 6pm), which features famously drug-abusing, sex-addicted comedian Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny.
If you’re not in the mood for movies, you can choose from several documentary series, such as “Jesus: The Lost 40 Days” (H2 4pm), “The Ten Commandments” (H2 6pm) and “Crucifixion (H2 8pm). AHC, coming off that epic “Secrets of the Bible” marathon, jumps right into 6 hours’ worth of “Who Was Jesus?” (AHC 6pm). Meanwhile, CNN concludes its blatant attempt to woo Fox News viewers with the season finale of the religious docudrama “Finding Jesus” (CNN 7pm).
But the big capper on the day arrives in the form of A.D. The Bible Continues (KOB-4 8pm), a dramatic miniseries produced by Jesus-loving husband-and-wife duo Roma Downey (“Touched By An Angel”) and Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice”). Their 2013 History Channel miniseries The Bible was so popular, somebody had to go out and write a sequel. Of course, the last one ended with them killing off their main character. Can’t wait to see how they get out of that narrative pickle.