He Is Risen! Now Keep Your Ass Indoors With Some Easter-Themed TV
It's Easter Sunday, and all sensible people are ignoring the appeals of fundamentalist morons and safely celebrating the holiday at home. This is how I've always observed Easter whenever I remembered it was happening. This year, you can also join me in front of the TV set with a pitcher of mimosas for an Easter-themed marathon.
A holiday ritual for me is an annual viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar, which admittedly does not take place on Easter. Director Norman Jewison's 1973 adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice rock opera ends with Jesus's crucifixion. We never see the resurrection because there was no Jesus Christ Endgame. Deep down, I am King Herod performing his titular number with backup dancers on loan from a Bob Fosse musical.
(There's also no resurrection scene in Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ, the only other adult Jesus-related movie I've watched. It's possible that Easter is simply anti-climactic.)
King Herod: Jesus Christ Superstar www.youtube.com
The Wizard of Oz has become an official Easter weekend tradition. It aired last night on cable, but you're a fairly half-assed parent if you don't already have a VHS or digital copy for your kids to enjoy today. If they feel like they've outgrown it, you should consider exposing them to another classic from the Judy Garland film catalog. She's paired fabulously with the absurdly older Fred Astaire in 1948's Easter Parade. Irving Berlin thought no one sang his songs better than Liza's momma, and he's right. This is also the film with Astaire's epic rendition of "Steppin' Out With My Baby," which Tony Bennet later covered on MTV: Unplugged. You can vicariously appreciate all the non-physical distancing in the climax as the resplendent couple show off their Sunday best on their way to church. Turner Classic Movies will air the film at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Fred Astaire / Stepping Out With My Baby 「Easter Parade」 www.youtube.com
It's possible you might want to watch something other than musicals on Easter, and although I can't imagine why, I'll give you some tuneless alternatives anyway. Doctor Who had 13 Christmas specials from 2005 to 2017 (we might get another one this year unless the COVID Grinch steals it from us). “Planet of the Dead," which first aired in 2009, is the show's single Easter special, but as the Doctor puts it, “I don't usually do Easter. I can never find it. It's always at a different time." The special has little to do with Easter itself because you can't really have the Doctor teach someone the “true meaning of Easter" or some other Yuletide trope. It's still a fun romp before some heavier episodes leading to star David Tennant's departure. You can catch it on Amazon Prime Video.
My son discovered the "Teen Titans Go!" Easter-themed episode, “Egg Hunt," on Cartoon Network Friday, and this led to a YouTube rabbit hole where we watched clips from the show's other Easter episodes, including one that introduced a creepy-ass version of the Easter Bunny that was "half-man, half-bunny" and all YIKES. This abomination against the Lord “lays" Easter eggs in a grotesque fashion that my six-year-old finds hilarious. The Teen Titans begrudgingly defend the Easter Bunny from a villainous Santa Claus. I think Santa was still pissed from the Rankin-Bass 1977 special, The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town — a shameless and uninspired ripoff of the classic 1970 Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, which is also a much better song.
Teen Titans Go! | Eat My Little Eggs | Cartoon Network www.youtube.com
Now, go watch some or all of these and don't leave the house! It's an Easter miracle.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."