Talk about bizarre timing: NBC may have hoped to ride the post-Passion of the Christ wave with its six-part biblical thriller about a skeptical Harvard professor and a saucer-eyed nun who team up to halt the apocalypse. But producers couldn’t have prophesied that they’d run into another religious force field altogether: the Terri Schiavo case. It climaxed just weeks before the broadcast of Revelations, which features a fictional young woman who falls into a persistent vegetative state and becomes the centerpoint of a tug-of-war between church and state.
Brain death is no barrier for this girl: She quotes scripture in Latin and even scribbles a cryptic map that leads Sister Josepha (Natascha McElhone) to the home of Dr. Richard Massey (Bill Pullman). In a fantasy scenario that should cheer “culture of life” crusaders who wanted Schiavo kept alive by any means necessary, this odd couple succeeds in spiriting the girl away to a convent, where she is saved from hospital officials who (possibly under the devil’s instructions) planned to pull the plug and harvest her organs. And they never even need to call in the president.
It’s not clear how large a part this comatose character will play in coming episodes, as Judgment Day junkie Sister Josepha shores up her signs and symbols and Dr. Massey does battle with a smirking satanist. But knowing that it was penned by David Seltzer, screenwriter of the ’70s horror classic The Omen, my bet is that Revelations will tip more toward occult chillseekers than toward the religious right.