Monday, September 6, 2010

in praise of miniseries

I love a good miniseries. There are not many miniseries in any given year, and most of the ones we do get are on premium cable channels or come from overseas, so I often don't get to see them until they come out on DVD. What's fantastic about them is that you never EVER have to worry about it being canceled midway or that the writers don't know what they're doing. Most of the time, miniseries are based on books too, typically classics, which is an added benefit for people who care about things like plot. And if you haven't read the book and you enjoy the miniseries, you can go read the book. I just bought Pillars of the Earth for that exact reason.

The other great thing about miniseries is that they often get top actors who might shy away from doing a regular series with an uncertain run.

Here's a list of some of the miniseries I have seen and enjoyed:

Pillars of the Earth (naturally)
Little Dorrit (I'm halfway through it right now, but so far so good)
Syfy's Alice (particularly Andrew Lee Potts)
Band of Brothers
The 10th Kingdom (very cheesy, but enjoyable)
Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth!)
Emma (the Romola Garai one)
State of Play
Angels in America
Dune and Children of Dune
Elizabeth I (I'm 99% sure I watched this in grad school and liked it, but it's hard to keep track of all the Elizabeth stuff that has come out during my lifetime)
I think I also liked parts of Mists of Avalon.

The Stand was bizarre, and most of Syfy's miniseries are, well, best not to talk about them too much.
I also don't remember thinking too highly of the '98 miniseries Merlin.

I don't count Planet Earth, though that was incredible, because it's more a doc series.

There are plenty I haven't seen that I want to, like The Pacific, Roots (want to read the book first), Tsunami: The Aftermath, John Adams, The Thorn Birds, Gideon's Daughter, Brideshead Revisited, Jane Eyre (2009) and so forth.

Anyone have any suggestions or recs?
And, yes, I would love to write a miniseries some day.

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen