Picks and Pans Review: Judas

updated 03/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/15/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Mon., March 8, 9 p.m. ET)

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Though this so-so Bible story has been sitting on ABC's shelf since 2001, its belated airing may draw a bit of extra interest thanks to the massive publicity surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. To put it irreverently, Jesus is hot right now.

In this account, Judas (Johnathon Schaech) is a brooding rebel keen to drive the Roman oppressors from the land of Israel. Judas sees Jesus (Jonathan Scarfe) as the potential leader of a liberation movement, but the man from Galilee turns out to be frustratingly mellow and above politics. Alienated and angry, Judas sells Jesus out—and almost instantly regrets it.

Schaech's intense performance is the film's best feature. Too often Scarfe's Jesus seems like a philosophical surfer dude.

"You're welcome to join us," Jesus says after introducing Judas to some disciples.

"Where are you going?" Judas asks.

"Where do you need to be?" the Savior replies with a smile. Far out, man.

Tim Matheson is adequate as Roman governor Pontius Pilate—if you can force yourself to forget him similarly attired in the Animal House toga party.

REALITY

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