Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Papal biography feels like rush job

December 1, 2005

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The recent death and the eventful life of Pope John Paul II has inspired three television movies in the same year. Two will air this week. Last summer the Hallmark Channel broadcast "A Man Who Became Pope," a five-hour European miniseries that explored the pope's formative years in Poland under Nazi and Communist occupation. It was a fine film, not afraid to depict the late pope as a man of great intellect and deep passions.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of "Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II" (7 p.m., ABC). This film, starring Thomas Kretschmann as John Paul II, attempts to cover the pope's entire life in two hours, minus time for commercials. The result is a dutiful depiction of major events presented with a curious lack of cinematic flair accompanied by an insipid musical score.

With its rapid recitation of so many dramatic events, "Fear" ultimately reduces itself to a dull wax museum of a movie. In fact, someone unfamiliar with the pope's story will find the film completely confusing and uninformative.

CBS will take a crack at the Pope's story starting Sunday, with its four-hour miniseries "Pope John Paul II," starring Jon Voight.

¢ Bravo will spend the next four nights celebrating 100 "Great Things About the Holidays" (8 p.m., Bravo). The cheeky series employs the time-honored tradition of allowing mid-level celebrities and "stars" of Bravo series to offer snarky comments about Andy Williams holiday specials; Cabbage Patch Kids; figgie pudding; every Osmond TV special; The "O.C."-inspired "Chrismukkah" celebrations and many more. As nutritious as a bowl of popcorn - and just as irresistible.

¢ In late-night TV firsts, the White Stripes will appear and perform on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) and David Letterman hosts Oprah Winfrey on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS).

Tonight's other highlights

¢ College prep on "The O.C." (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Mistaken for a basketball talent on "Everybody Hates Chris" (7 p.m., UPN).

¢ Reasons to give thanks for 1992 on "Reunion" (8 p.m., Fox).

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