In between the Golden age of fledgling TV and the vast wasteland, there was a void where network programmers were baffled and bewildered as to what people wanted to see on the small screen. They weren’t the arrogant yahoos that think they know all of the answers as they are today. The formulas weren’t set in stone as of yet and the Nelson ratings were still brand new and considered state of the art and scientific.
To fill this void they came up with a brilliant solution; the mini-series. The genre was not a new idea, the British and the Canadians both had serials on TV before the americans. However this was something new to viewers in the States.
Starting with QB VII in 1974, based on the novel by Leon Uris, which aired on ABC, the genre has survived and thrived to the present day. The mini-series that got me hooked was Rich man Poor man based on Irwin Shaw’s novel, Starring Peter Strauss and a young Nick Nolte. Now the genre exist mostly on cable. with titles like, Game of thrones and The white queen, both based on popular book series.
For almost forty years the Mini-series has endured on American TV so I’d like to share some of my favorite blast from the past, not in chronological order.
- THE WINDS OF WAR (1983) Starring Robert Mitchum, Ali MacGraw and Jan Michael Vincent. Historical drama/Romance.
- SHOGUN (1980) Starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune Historical Drama
- ONCE AN EAGLE (1976) Starring Sam Eliot, Cliff Potts and Glen Ford. Historical Drama
- RICH MAN POOR MAN (1976) Starring Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte and Susan Blakeley. Drama. NO TRAILER FOUND, there are full episodes on You Tube.
- LONESOME DOVE (1989) Starring Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover Western/ action/ Drama.
- ROOTS (1977) Starring Levar Burton. Ben Vereen and Olivia Cole.
- NOBLE HOUSE (1988) Starring Pierce Brosnan
- NORTH AND SOUTH (1985) Starring Kirstie Alley, George Stanford Brown, David Carradine and Patrick Swayze. Civil War Drama
- THE BUCCANEERS (1995) Starring Carla Gugino, Mira Sorvino and Alison Elliot. Rich American girls go to England in search of aristocratic husbands,
- BAND OF BROTHERS (2001) Starring Scott Grimes, Mathew Leitch and Damian Lewis. World war two Historical Action/ Drama.
I am sure that there are a lot of fine examples that I’ve missed but these are the most memorable for me. Full episodes of some of these can be found on You Tube.