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April 13, 2005


Revelations: pseudo-spiritual schlock


Tonight on NBC is the premiere installment of "Revelations", a new mini-series, excuse me, "six-hour event series," about the end of the world. Given the subject matter, this could be some outrageous and fun television, or it could a lot of talky pretend-spiritual bilge. Inspired by the loopiest and also the most televisually adaptable book of the Bible, the series will show what happens at the end of days: a little girl gets struck by lightning, a little girl is magically revived from a coma, and a little girl is spawned by Satan in a roiling ocean. I guess whatever happens at the end of the world primarily happens to little girls; the rest of us just wait to get raptured or vaporized.

The series was written by David Seltzer, who also wrote the 1970's schlocky yet deeply satisfying The Omen. Hopefully his knack for methodically setting up inventive and gruesome deaths (like the guy with the line through his neck in a photograph getting decapitated by the flying windowpane) will be in effect here. The show also features the guy who played Ira Gaines in season 1 of 24 as a satanic murderer, and Fred Durst as a satanic kidnapper.

Tom Shales' review of the series is typically dismissive and very funny: "Although it's true that "Revelations" hippity-hops like mad around the globe -- from Mexico to Boston to the Adriatic Sea to Miami to dear old Harvard in 15 minutes or less -- you still may get the feeling that most of it was shot in Toronto, the way most of everything still tends to be." He assumes that the series is headed for some kind of climactic end of the world event, "that showdown of showdowns, a High Noon between Christ and Satan -- the ultimate Wrestlemania." But are we actually going to get to see the end of the world happen as a televised event? Shales writes, "Budget constraints being what they are, the parameters of battle are likely to be limited, however, and really now, how can a movie end with the world ending too? Like, if the world ended, then how could we be sitting there watching TV? The conclusion, in other words, seems a trifle foregone."

Alessandra Stanley over the the NY Times is surprisingly positive about the series, which she calls "spooky and suspenseful." She takes the meta-view that serious issues of life, death, morality, and political issues are more likely to be addressed on fictional TV shows like "Law and Order", "The West Wing", and series like "Revelations" than on actual news programs, which are busy covering celebrity gossip and human interest stories. She writes, "There is nothing soft about "Revelations," which opens with a montage of violent images from civil wars in Africa to a person jumping 40 stories off the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001."

However good or bad this show may be, it's sure gotten groups of activist communists riled up. One NYC-based group is staging a protest of sorts outside the NBC studio building in Rockefeller Center this afternoon. From an email promoting the event: "Protest NBC's "Revelations": Propaganda for the Christian American Taliban- Wed. April 13th (and continuing) 4:45 pm at NBC, 1250 6th Avenue (near 48th Street, Rockerfeller (sic) Center)."

At the event, the communists "intend to intervene and change the national discourse on morality, biblical literalism, science, and what kind of world we want to live in." They will also hand out a satirical pledge form in which "Christian Warriors" can pledge that they believe our leaders understand God's plan, accept that they are called upon to overthrow countries ruled by the Anti-Christ, and invade health clinics and kill abortionists, etc. etc. It sounds like this event won't really be a funny piece of satirical street theater, so much as a sarcastic exercise in ridiculing religious people.

The email ends by encouraging all like-minded communists to please watch the "Revelations" series.

categories: Politics, Religion, TV
posted by amy at 10:53 AM | #

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Tracked on June 30, 2006 2:15 PM