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No signs of subtlety in 'Revelations'

There's nothing subtly creepy in ''Revelations," NBC's new miniseries about the end of the world. It's a stark mash of lightning storms and glaring Satanists and overly dramatic music that shouts too loudly for its own good. As it leaps from Ominous Religious Event to Ominous Religious Event, the first hourlong chapter of this six-part series could easily have been called ''Hellsapoppin!"

The hyped-up premiere, tomorrow at 9 p.m. on Channel 7, follows a Roman Catholic nun and a Harvard professor as they search out signs of the apocalypse, as defined by the Book of Revelation. Natascha McElhone's Sister Josepha is a rebel thinker whose sect is not recognized by the Vatican; Bill Pullman's astrophysicist Richard Massey is grieving the murder of his daughter by a religious madman. Together, they embark on an investigation of whether or not we have reached the End of Days, when Christ will reappear on Earth.

Like Mulder and Scully from ''The X-Files," the show's odd couple perceive all the bizarre apocalyptic evidence from different points of view. Sister Josepha is already convinced the Second Coming has arrived. She's a believer. Massey, on the other hand, resists the signs, compelling as they are. He likes scientific proof. There's a comatose girl struck by lightning in Florida who seems to be spouting scripture. There's a shadow on a mountain in Mexico that looks something like Jesus on the cross. And there's an infant who is discovered -- miraculously? -- in a ship's wreckage on the Adriatic Sea. Massey's still on the fence.

As his personal life becomes entwined in the religious drama, though, he becomes emotionally addled. The comatose girl may be connected to his late daughter, and the Satanist who killed his daughter may be connected to the oncoming Judgment. These links between Massey's life and the strange events are strained, of course, but that's not surprising. Everything else about ''Revelations" is much too forced.

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