Miniseries Marathon
The miniseries and I were made for each other, long-winded and going on forever!

Archive for December, 2010

Backstairs at the White House (1979)

Solid historical drama in the vein of “Roots,” (with many cast members to share), “Backstairs at the White House” is a warm miniseries, a strange thing to say about what should be a dry political lesson.  We rip through all of the Presidents and First Ladies from the Tafts to the Eisenhowers, all with varying […]

The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987)

Upon seeing “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” in 1987, I was hooked from the start and 20+ years later, it’s lost none of its zing.  Based on a true story, as are all Dominck Dunne novels, I find the movie far more entertaining than the book, which gets far too hung up Dunne’s precious society.  The movie […]

The Bourne Identity (1988)

Quick: who played the female lead in the 2002 movie version of Robert Ludlum’s classic Cold War thriller “The Bourne Identity?”  I could give most people an hour and, like myself, they wouldn’t come up with it.  But, back in 1988, when Matt Damon was just a kid in Boston, American miniseries royalty did their […]

Young Catherine (1991)

Here is one of those cheats I mentioned.  “Young Catherine” was originally on a cable network, TNT, which is not a subscription channel.  However, this piece behaves just like its network cousins and a few year earlier would no doubt have popped up on one of them. This is the story of Catherine the Great […]

East of Eden (1981)

Taking on a TV miniseries version of of Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” is daunting for many reasons.  First, the original movie, though concentrating on just a portion of the novel, is iconic (if not very good).  Second, it’s a sweeping saga of multiple generations, but one with heft and meaning, rather than just a juicy […]

Noble House (1988)

The success of Shogun in 1980 beget two further James Clavell miniseries, “Tai-Pan” in 1986 and “Noble House” in 1988, diminishing returns certainly, but”Noble House” borders on incomprehensible at times because it tries to squeeze an enormous book with oodles of plots into six hours of screen time, mostly taken up by talk of finance.  […]

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

I’m cheating a little here, since this miniseries actually premiered on British TV before American TV, but only by a week.  This is clearly meant to be more than just a typical miniseries (direction by Franco Zeffirelli and written by Zeffirelli, Suso Cecci D’Amico and Anthony Burgess, it already seems international), but it’s largely American cast […]

From Here to Eternity (1979)

Remaking James Jones’ “From Here to Eternity” had to be a big risk back in 1979.  The seaside kiss between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster alone is part of movie history and the film is widely regarded as a classic.  But, since the great American Miniseries thrives on war, especially World War II, here is […]

Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story (1995)

Those who open the American Miniseries time machine way in the future will see a lot of our great heroes.  George Washington, the entire Adams clan, certain Abraham Lincoln over and over and, of course, The Kennedys.  The Kennedys require a totally separate time machine.  There are other expected denizens: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilyn […]

The Blue and The Gray (1982)

Virginia matriarch Colleen Dewhurst notes that her son John Hammond is different from the rest of the family because he has an artistic ability.  It if weren’t 1859, that would be code, but since it is 1859 and said in the very serious “The Blue and The Gray,” Colleen is actually talking about her quiet son’s ability […]