Easter 2013 is Sunday, March 31. Here are some of the notable new and returning shows, specials and movies airing over the next week to help you and your family enjoy the Easter 2013 season, if you celebrate. All times are Eastern; programming is subject to change. Check back for updates and additions.
The Passion of the Christ — March 23 at 11pm; March 25 at 5pm; March 28 at 10pm; March 29 at 11:30am; March 30 at 5:30pm & 8pm; March 31 at 10pm on TBN. Mel Gibson’s film follows the last 12 hours of Jesus’ (Jim Caviezel) life. Viewer note: The film is rated TV-MA-V for its graphic depiction of violence.
Solemn Mass of Palm Sunday from Rome — March 24 at 4:30am (Live) and 8pm (Replay) on EWTN. From St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Newly named Pope Francis celebrates Mass for Palm Sunday.
Solemn Mass of Palm Sunday — March 24 at 12pm on EWTN. From the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. With Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
Jesus — March 24 at 7pm & 11pm; March 29 at 8pm on GMC TV. This four-hour miniseries stars Jeremy Sisto as Jesus, and explores his relationships with his mother, Mary (Jacqueline Bisset) and earthly father Joseph (Armin Mueller-Stahl); his 12 apostles; his friends and followers, such as Mary Magdalene (Debra Messing), and his cousin, John the Baptist (David O’Hara). Gary Oldman also stars as Pontius Pilate.
The Bible: “Mission” — March 24 at 8pm on History. As the hit series continues, Jesus feeds the crowds in Galilee and brings a dead man, Lazarus, back to life; Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey – a declaration that he is the Messiah; Jesus turns on the money-changers in the Temple; Caiaphas coaxes Judas into betraying Jesus; Jesus throws the disciples into turmoil at the Last Supper; Jesus is arrested and condemned to death as the disciples scatter.
Barabbas — March 25 and March 26 at 9pm on ReelzChannel. In this two-part miniseries picking up where the Bible left off, Billy Zane plays the man whose life was spared by the decision to crucify Jesus Christ.
Jesus of Nazareth — March 26 at 4:30pm & 10pm on TBN. Franco Zeffirelli’s impressive 1977 miniseries chronicles the life of Christ and features an all-star cast, including Anne Bancroft, Laurence Olivier, Michael York, James Mason, Rod Steiger and Robert Powell as Jesus.
Chrism Mass in Rome — March 28 at 4:30am Live on EWTN. Pope Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass, live from Vatican City.
Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Supper from Rome — March 28 at 12:30pm on EWTN. Pope Francis celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus: Rise to Power — March 28 at 8pm on National Geographic Channel. This three-part special (with all three parts airing back-to-back in one night) shows how Christianity overcame the odds to become a major world force. The three episodes are “Messiahs,” “Martyrs” and “Christians.”
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion from Rome — March 29 at 12pm Live on EWTN. Pope Francis presides over a celebration of the Lord’s Passion, live from Vatican City.
The Gospel of Judas: Revealed — March 29 at 8pm on National Geographic Channel. Judas Iscariot’s name has been synonymous with treachery for centuries, but this special revisits an ancient gospel, found in Egypt and hidden for nearly 2,000 years, that tells a different story. It portrays this villain as a hero. A team of biblical detectives set out to determine whether this Gospel of Judas is a fake before it crumbles into dust.
Easter Vigil Mass from Rome — March 30 at 4pm (Live) and March 31 at 12am (Replay) on EWTN. Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Vigil Mass live from Rome.
The Ten Commandments (pictured above) — March 30 at 7pm on ABC. Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic is truly an example of “they don’t make ’em like that anymore.” And they probably can’t make ’em like this — the scale would be too cost-prohibitive. So enjoy this classic, longtime Easter season TV favorite on whatever level you choose: as a religious story; as a great drama; as epic filmmaking; as a showcase for legendary actors like Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson and many more; or as all of the above. On a personal note, it was always a great endurance test for me as a kid to try to stay up for the whole thing, and for Easter 2013 ABC has The Ten Commandments scheduled into a 4 hour, 45 minute programming block. So set your DVR, or take a nap beforehand.
The Carpenter’s Miracle — March 30 and March 31 at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm on GMC TV. Although Judd Parkin’s novel The Carpenter’s Miracle was Christmas-themed, GMC asked the TV exec-turned-author if he could adapt it into an Easter movie. “It’s hard to find entertaining, contemporary films that evoke the spirit of Easter,” says Barbara Fisher, Senior Vice President of Originals for GMC. “We talked to Judd and he agreed it could work as well, if not better, as an Easter story.” The story is about a humble small-town handyman, Josh Carey (Cameron Mathison), who finds himself at the center of media attention after attempting to resuscitate 12-year-old Luke Quinn (Ryan Grantham), the victim of a drowning accident. While lightly touching the boy with his hand and offering a wish, the boy is suddenly revived, much to the non-religious Josh’s surprise. The drama deals with themes of faith, skepticism and miracles.
Easter Vigil Mass from BNSIC — March 30 at 8pm Live on EWTN. From the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
Solemn Mass of Easter Sunday from Rome — March 31 at 4am (Live) and 7pm (Replay) on EWTN. Pope Francis presides over Mass at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. This is followed at 5am by the pope’s traditional Easter message and blessing to the city of Rome and to the world. The message and blessing will be replayed on EWTN at 6pm.
Easter Sunday Mass (BNSIC) — March 31 at 12pm Live on EWTN. The Easter 2013 Mass, live from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown — March 31 at 7pm on ABC. Another in the line of Peanuts holiday-themed specials, this one is the Emmy-nominated 1974 springtime cartoon that finds Linus — apparently not having learned after getting burned by the “Great Pumpkin” — believing that the “Easter Beagle” will take care of everyone’s holiday needs. This is followed at 7:30pm by Charlie Brown’s All Stars.
The Bible: “Passion” — March 31 at 8pm on History. The series concludes with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, as well as the Ascension, Pentecost and Revelation. During this last episode, Peter denies Jesus and Judas hangs himself; the crowd clamors for Jesus’s death; Jesus is crucified, but when Mary Magdalene goes to his tomb, a figure walks toward her – Jesus is back; Jesus commissions the disciples to “go and preach to all creation”; Paul has a vision and experiences a miraculous change of faith on a journey to Damascus; John receives a revelation – Jesus is coming back, and all who keep the faith will be rewarded. Leading into this episode, starting at 12pm, will be the previous four episodes of The Bible.
Easter Epics — March 31 beginning at 8pm on TCM. TCM celebrates Easter 2013 with a night of Bible-inspired epic films, beginning with 1953’s The Robe, based on Lloyd C. Douglas’ novel about a Roman centurion who presides over Jesus’ crucifixion. Next is the sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954), with Victor Mature in the story of Emperor Caligula’s search for Jesus’ robe. The lineup concludes with a “Silent Sunday Night” presentation of Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings (1927), starring H.B. Warner as Jesus.
The Ten Commandments photo credit: Paramount