A spiffy new remake of The Ten Commandments will air on ABC-TV April 10 and 11. This year, Easter and Passover fall during the same week, and both religious feasts are rooted in the story of the Israel's Exodus from Egypt. This timing makes this made-for-TV movie timely watching for both Christians and Jews.

Dougray Scott (Ever After) plays a thoroughly conflicted Moses. He is confused by his double identity: Egyptian prince and son of Hebrew slaves. He is torn between God's call to lead his people through the desert and his responsibility as husband and father. He is torn between the demands of leadership and the simple pastoral life he learned from his father-in-law Jethro.

Scott's emotional range is enormous: shouting, swooning, blubbering, ripping his robes. When he hears God speak in his inner voice, he holds his head like a figure from an aspirin commercial or presses his palm to his brow like Johnny Carson's Great Carnac.

But hey, this is supposed to be dramatic stuff.

The best performance is turned in by Omar Sharif (Dr. Zhivago) as Moses' father-in-law Jethro. He is confidently cheeky, free with unsolicited advice, and underneath his crusty exterior, you can tell he is kind, kind, kind.

Naveen Andrews (Bride and Prejudice) portrays Menerith, Moses' Egyptian stepbrother. His performance is rock solid. And his affection for Moses is palpable, and his frustration with Pharaoh Ramses' policies simmers just below the surface.

As Ramses, Paul Rhys (Vincent and Theo) gets to recapitulate Yul Brynner's famous shaved head role. He gets to wear very cool Egyptian eye-makeup. But he unfortunately brings to the role a mincing vanity that seems like a campy import from La Cage aux Folles.

Missing the irony

Any producer runs a risk when ...

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