Picks and Pans Review: 'tis the Season

updated 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

>SYNDICATED SPECIALS

Two specials, airing from now until Christmas (check local listings), look at the Yuletide's main men: Santa Claus and Jesus of Nazareth.

There Really Is a Santa Claus is an investigation based on eyewitness reports of children and celebrity testimony by Edward James Olmos, Loretta Lynn and others. It's a cute idea but not cute enough to fill an hour.

A Child Called Jesus, a two-part Italian miniseries not taken from the New Testament, presents Jesus, Mary and Joseph tearing around the desert pursued by Herod's assassin. The dialogue is badly dubbed, but the marvelous re-creation of Biblical times (shot in Tunisia) makes A Child Called Jesus oddly captivating.

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