May 15, 2000 12:00 PM

CBS (Sun., May 14, and Wed., May 17, 9 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

Martin Scorsese caught flak for taking liberties with the gospel story in 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ. Though less controversial, this four-hour miniseries doesn’t always stick to the scriptures either. Where does the New Testament say that Satan (Jeroen Krabbé, looking very 21st century with his slick hair, dark suit and T-shirt) messes with Jesus’ mind at Gethsemane as well as in the desert, showing him scenes of war to prove love cannot conquer? Did the four evangelists forget to report that Mary, sister of Lazarus, saw Jesus as husband material?

Some will question such elements in Suzette Couture’s teleplay, but director Roger Young gives the more familiar moments the force and freshness of revelation. We sense the spiritual power behind the miracles and feel Jesus’ dread as the crucifixion nears. Jeremy Sisto makes an appealing, fully human Jesus—a savior with a smile. Gary Oldman is imperially evil as Pontius Pilate, though Debra Messing’s Mary Magdalen is a bit too much in the Jesus Christ Superstar vein.

Bottom Line: Not flawless but a worthy act of faith

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