- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

NBC’s ‘Revelations’

NBC takes a bold step toward attracting the same audiences who flocked to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” with “Revelations,” a new miniseries that depicts the Armageddon foretold in the Bible’s final book.

The six-episode drama, premiering tonight at 9, strongly suggests that the end may be coming to pass.

It’s risky business. The network is treading on sensitive ground by delving into subject matter bound to upset many devout Christians. A few might even feel that a miniseries focusing on the end of time may not be suitable TV fare.

NBC hopes to ward off the criticism by top-loading the cast with the credible Bill Pullman (“Independence Day”) and Natasha McElhone (“Ronin”), while allowing director David Seltzer (“The Omen”) to call the shots.

The results, based on the first few episodes offered for review, show solid acting and stellar production values.

The previews also suggest a thoughtful series that neither panders to the faithful nor insults their core beliefs.

Not a bad start.

Tonight’s premiere begins with a crash of signs pointing to the apocalypse — from an infant who miraculously survives a boating accident to a comatose girl who speaks in tongues.

Miss McElhone plays a nun, Sister Josepha Montifiore, tracking down these otherworldly events. She seeks out Dr. Richard Massey (Mr. Pullman), a distraught astrophysicist, for scholarly help, but he’s too caught up in the recent death of his daughter to offer any…that is, until Sister Josepha starts convincing him there’s more at work here than just the fevered imaginations of the faithful.

Miss McElhone’s Sister Josepha is earnest without veering into cliches. Mr. Pullman, on the other hand, isn’t a Grade A brooder, but he’s always grounded enough to keep the story on track.

Ratings roundup

More than 9 million people awakened early or stayed up late to watch Friday’s TV coverage of Pope John Paul II’s funeral from Rome, Nielsen Media Research said yesterday.

The bulk of those viewers, 8.8 million, tuned to ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel or MSNBC, all of which carried the Mass live. An estimated 370,000 people watched on either Telemundo, Azteca America or Univision, Associated Press reported, citing data from Nielsen.

The funeral began at 4 a.m. on the East Coast and 1 a.m. in the West. Nielsen had no immediate comparison of what television viewing normally is at that hour. However, more people watched the pope’s funeral in the predawn hours than watched, for example, such prime-time fare as NBC’s made-for-TV movie on the old “Mork & Mindy” series or “The King of Queens” on CBS or “Jake in Progress”on ABC.

CBS had another dominant week in prime time, helped by the popular National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball championship between North Carolina and Illinois, which was seen by just under 24 million people. ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was the week’s most-watched program.

For the week of April 4 through 10, CBS averaged 12.4 million viewers and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic sought by advertisers. ABC averaged 9 million viewers, Fox had 8.4 million, NBC had 8.3 million, UPN had 3.1 million, the WB 2.9 million and Pax TV 660,000.

The top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 25.5 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 24.5 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 24.1 million; “NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: North Carolina vs. Illinois,” CBS, 23.9 million; and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 22.6 million.

Back and ‘Stacked’

Laugh all you want, but pinup queen Pamela Anderson keeps finding work, long after the allure of her looks alone should have worn thin.

The former “Baywatch” star returns to prime time tonight with “Stacked,” a new Fox sitcom that playfully tweaks her real-life penchant for bad boys.

Miss Anderson plays a woman so sick of meeting Mr. Wrongs that she takes a job at a local bookstore hoping the change of scenery will inspire her to change her taste in men.

“Stacked,” which co-stars Christopher Lloyd of “Back to the Future” and “Taxi” fame, premieres at 8:30 p.m. — just before “American Idol.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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