This made-for-television version of the classic Rock Opera isn’t a complete disgrace, but a couple of critical problems prevent it from even remotely challenging the 1973 Norman Jewison film as a video resource for the show. The first problem is the visuals. The attempt to ‘update’ the story, which now apparently takes place in some bizarre hybrid of Nazi Germany, an inner city slum, and an overly stylized sci-fi future, is incredibly awkward and tries way too hard, and the show looks ridiculous throughout. As for the actual performances, they are mostly excellent, with one fatal exception. Jerome Pradon is absolutely brilliant as Judas: I know that there have been a lot of great performances in this role, and I’m not saying he improves on Murray Head, Ben Vereen, or Carl Anderson, but he puts his own stamp on the role and really does turn in a marvelous interpretation. Renee Castle is by no means the best person to sing the role of Mary Magdalene, but she has a very nice voice and is quite touching in the part. In the problematic role of Herod, Rik Mayall does about as well as anyone has, certainly better than Joshua Mostel in the original film. And Fred Johansen is arguably the greatest performer ever to play the role of Pilate, making a stunning impression in the role and providing probably the best reason to see this feature. But the whole thing has a rotten center in the form of Glenn Carter as Jesus. As an actor, he’s decent enough, but as a singer he’s just inexcusable. His falsetto is gutless, unsupported and ear-bleedingly shrill, and this, combined with his overwrought singing style, makes him virtually unlistenable. This film is not without its merits, but between the visuals and Carter’s performance, it can’t measure up to the original film, or avoid seeming utterly redundant in comparison to it.