Welcome to the Miniseries Marathon.  It came about in a rather strange way.  One winter, when it was too cold to be outside, I decided to revisit the Great American Miniseries.  As I watched, I had sudden inspiration.  This is the nonfiction book I have always wanted to write!  That I know of, there is only one other book dedicated to this topic, but in a very different take on the subject.  These represent my opinions and my theses.  I love feedback, so feel free to disagree with me!

The rules:

  • The miniseries are all roughly from 1975-1995.
  • They are all network (NBC, CBS, ABC) miniseries with a few notable exceptions.
  • They are all American miniseries with a few notable exceptions.
  • They have to have had an original runtime of approximately four hours or more (that usually meant at least two nights.
  • From time to time, it’s helpful to look at other similar television movies, so those are included and noted as such.
  • For miniseries based on real life and with real life characters (“Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna”), I will use the characters’ names.  For fictional miniseries (, I will use the actors’ names.  This may be controversial, but the reason for the latter is to highlight the performers, what they are doing and how they adapt their talents to the genre.  For historical fiction pieces (“North and South”), it will be a mix.

The theses:

  • The Great American Miniseries movement was essentially, for lack of a better word, silly.  At least in hindsight.  Of course there are many exceptions, but most of them are overwrought, overproduced and surprisingly goofy.
  • There were three types of American Miniseries: Historical, Romantic and Adventure.  With very little exception, all of them fit.  It’s a genre that includes an obsession with the Civil War and World War II, Sidney Sheldon novels and even aliens.  I have decided against a category for camp, but I’m definitely covering those.
  • There are three miniseries, one per each type above, that I believe are the most perfect example of each genre.  Those will be the last three in the marathon.
  • No matter how disparate the movies were, they pretty much follow the same patterns.  For example, the happier a character becomes, the worse his or her downfall is going to be.  Another example? What I call the “slumming vets.”  After having to spend the 1970s in Irwin Allen disaster flicks, here was a genre that had cache.  The biggest stars in the world (Elizabeth Taylor) and of yesteryear (Claudette Colbert) showed up.  They tended to be the best thing about many of the miniseries, but many of them also looked desperate
  • Cable and the Internet killed the network miniseries.
  • You will see many of the same people cropping up again and again, but there is one person I consider to be the Muse of the Miniseries and that is Jane Seymour.  Not only did Jane do a lot of miniseries work, but she understood what she was doing and acted accordingly.  Here is an actress who can do both “East of Eden” and give a performance so strong it’s breathtaking, and “Memories of Midnight,” a dimwitted piece for which she is go obviously overqualified.


What you see on this blog are my “notes.”  In order to craft a book, and one for which I have in place the structure, I knew watching these over and over and over would take more decades than I have left to live, I need notes.  These are my notes.

Enjoy the reading!  Feel free to suggest your favorite miniseries and I will try to oblige.

All the best!


4 Comments to “About”

  1. Dad 18 November 2012 at 9:40 am #


    • miniseriesmarathon 18 November 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      Thank you, Dad. It’s nice to have a few ringers in the audience.

  2. anon 13 November 2014 at 12:36 am #

    I like the layout / structure of the site. Content is excellent as well. What is your plan for the book?

    • Bj Kirschner 6 December 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      To write it! 🙂

      No, no. I actually do have a plan, but things like a job and sleep and other nonsense gets in the way.

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