Anthony Minghella

All right, let's take it as a given that the History Channel wants to shed its stodgy old image, but even so, it's hard to justify overblown nonsense like this thumbsucker, devoting two hours to a book of dubious provenance that might be linked to the 16th century alleged prophet.

All right, let’s take it as a given that the History Channel wants to shed its stodgy old image, but even so, it’s hard to justify overblown nonsense like this thumbsucker, devoting two hours to a book of dubious provenance that might be linked to the 16th century alleged prophet. Filled with extremely earnest “experts” of peculiar pedigree (including a psychic and the Nostradamus Society of America’s president), this sort of portentous baloney suggests the television apocalypse can’t come soon enough.

Born in 1503, Nostradamus has long held fascination for those drawn to such blather by his seemingly prescient writings about events that occurred hundreds of years after his death. This latest spec focuses on a picture book that, if you look really hard, predicts towers on fire (the World Trade Center!), the Pope fighting a bear (the Cold War!) and — get ready for it — the precise window when the World Will End, give or take five years. (Here’s a hint: If you have an IRA that matures in 2013, you might consider cashing it in right now and heading to Aruba.)

“Lost Book of Nostradamus” would be bad enough if it just gave a platform to psychic Ellie Crystal or Nostradamus enthusiasts Victor Baines and Jay Weidner, who approach the topic with straight-faced zeal. Worse, though, the narration perpetuates the idiocy, with narrator James Lurie at one point saying, “It does appear that the bad news is coming more rapidly, more intently, than ever before.” Oh really? This would come as news to the millions who died during WWII, who, admittedly, didn’t have three 24-hour cable news channels (or for that matter, the History Channel) capturing each moment with “news alert” urgency.

So is the antichrist among us? Are the hands of the apocalypse clock winding down? Will anybody stay with this spaced-out production against Sunday football and “Desperate Housewives,” even if it is a couple of nights before Halloween?

Unsettled times are often bountiful to peddlers of such material, preying on the most gullible among us, desperate for answers to the big mysteries. Yet while I wouldn’t pretend to possess a crystal ball, gazing into the near future emboldens me to prophesize that anybody who isn’t a Nostradamus nut going in should be irritated or bored out of his mind by “Lost Book of Nostradamus.”

Lost Book of Nostradamus

History Channel, Sun. Oct. 28, 9 p.m.

Production

Produced by 1080 Entertainment. Executive producers, Ken Ashe, Kreg Lauterbach cq; supervising producer, Betty Buckley; producer, Sarah Hollister; director, Lauterbach; writer, Hollister.

Crew

Camera, Bill Hayes.

Cast

With: Pascal Cabrilier. Narrator: James Lurie.

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