October 01, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

By God, someone at CBS spent a boatload on this May-sweeps miniseries, and it’s a visually sumptuous tale for it. Story-wise, though, Joan of Arc plays like the best-of excerpts of a grand symphony: All the impressive themes are here, but the no-less-important connective tissue is gone. Neil Patrick Harris surprises, however, with his royally whimsical turn; he may yet shed the mantle of Doogie. Reel Goodies (0:41) A moment of genuine, piercing emotion when Peter O’Toole’s Bishop Cauchon (the role for which he just won an Emmy), upon first meeting young Joan, has his pious foundation rocked. The Last Detail Director Luc Besson’s Joan tale — The Messenger, starring Milla Jovovich — hits theaters Nov. 12, six months after this one drew 23.4 million TV viewers.

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