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A Month of TV Commentary: A Meme in 30 Parts: Day 17

Day 17 – Favorite mini series

While lots of mini-series have been made in recent years, they always seem to be an artifact of the past to me. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, a number of Big Event™ mini-series captured the public imagination. Roots, The Winds of War, Shogun, The Thorn Birds, The Blue and the Grey, the list was endless and unrelenting. Without watching a single frame of these, you knew two things for certain: everyone was going to be talking about them, and sooner or later Richard Chamberlain was likely to show up.

Of course, these epic “TV Events” aren’t the only mini-series. Cable has used the format to great effect to tell stories too large do in a single movie. HBO recently spent over $200 million on The Pacific, a sprawling World War II historical drama, and before that produced the award-winning Band of Brothers to tell the story of that war’s European theatre. Back in 2000, the Sci-Fi channel did what David Lynch wasn’t allowed to do 15 years previously: take six hours to bring Frank Herbert’s Dune to the screen.

But this is a post about favourites, and if I had to choose a favourite mini-series of all time, I’m going to go with the 1994 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. The Stand is my favourite of King’s novels, and it really needed the broad canvas of a mini-series to do it justice. The cast is stellar, including Gary Sinese, one of my favourite actors, along with Molly Ringwald, Ruby Dee, Matt Frewer, Ray Walston, and other notables. Up to this point, most adaptations of King’s work were somewhat regrettable, with a couple of odd exceptions, but The Stand was a truly stunning piece of work, and still holds up as a quality production 15 years later. You can get it on DVD. I recommend it.

Honourable mention: Neverwhere, produced for the BBC from a script by Neil Gaiman. It took forever for this to come out on DVD, but it was worth the wait. A great deal of Gaiman’s vision didn’t make it to the screen (and can be found restored in the subsequent novel), but the potential can be seen, and it still feels like a Gaiman story brought to life. Again, recommended.

Day 01 – A show that should have never been cancelled
Day 02 – A show that you wish more people were watching
Day 03 – Your favorite new show (aired this t.v season)
Day 04 – Your favorite show ever
Day 05 – A show you hate
Day 06 – Favourite episode of your favourite t.v show
Day 07 – Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show
Day 08 – A show everyone should watch
day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A show you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A show that disappointed you
Day 12 – An episode you’ve watched more than 5 times
Day 13 – Favourite childhood show
Day 14 – Favorite male character
Day 15 – Favorite female character
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure show

Day 18 – Favorite title sequence
Day 19 – Best t.v show cast
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite ship
Day 22 – Favorite series finale
Day 23 – Most annoying character
Day 24 – Best quote
Day 25 – A show you plan on watching (old or new)
Day 26 – OMG WTF? Season finale
Day 27 – Best pilot episode
Day 28 – First t.v show obsession
Day 29 – Current t.v show obsession
Day 30 – Saddest character death

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6 Comments

  1. Ooooh…. “The Stand”…. Both in novel and mini-series form it is one of my favourite works ever. It fed a fledgling fondness for post-apocalyptic fiction and turned it into a raving obsession!

    M.O.O.N. spells “I agree” !

  2. A tough one, just because there are so many minis I haven’t seen. I own DVDs of From the Earth to the Moon, Angels in America, and John Adams that I haven’t watched yet. I’ve seen some on PBS that I’ve liked quite a bit (both Cranford minis come to mind), but they’re not congruent enough with my taste to be favorites.

    So for now I’ll go way back and settle on Roots. The fact that I can bring up clear images of several scenes and characters, decades later, tells me it had a real impact on me.

    And I’ll add a special Favorite Documentary Miniseries notation for Ken Burns’ Jazz.

  3. miniseries?

    Of the ’70s/’80s miniseries, I always liked “Centennial.” I even went out and read the 1100-page Michener novel, which was pretty unusual for me (I’m not sure if I’ve ever read any longer single work).

    • Re: miniseries?

      I loved Centennial, too, mainly because I had read the book first and the miniseries was so faithful to it (and the casting was brilliant). It’s slowly making its way up my Netflix queue, and I’m sort of looking forward /dreading to see whether it holds up thirty-odd years later.

  4. I’d have to go with “The Winds of War,” “War and Remembrance” and “Masada.” Honorable mention to “Holocaust.”

  5. Agreed

    This is still my favorite. They really did the book justice, even while having to make it TV-friendly. Will and I rented it a couple years back just to rewatch it, and it’s still awesome.

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