Mini-series have long been a great way to while away a summer. The form had largely disappeared, but Under The Dome, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel of the same name, has seen a revival.The 1980s had the best ones, though. Part of it may have been the fact that we had a lot fewer distractions then, with many fewer channels, no cellphones or internet. Here's five of the best Miniseries from the age of shoulderpads and Swatches.
A rare case of the TV show/movie being as good as the book. They did a great job of bringing James Clavell's massive tome of the same name to life. Richard Chamberlain excelled as a white man in feudal Japan. Also, anything with Toshiro Mifune, who was one of the greatest Japanese actors of all time, in it can't be bad.
The Thorn Birds (1983)
This was a sprawling story that covered 60 years in the lives of the Cleary Family and starred Chamberlain as a priest who falls tragically in love with a woman. He OWNED the mini-series market during the '80s. He wasn't the most dominant Chamberlain, though. Wilt was having his way with thousands of women during this decade.
V: The Final Battle (1984)
The original campy version in the '80s definitely outshone the recent remake. Marc Singer was great as one of the main protagonists in this battle for the planet Earth against aliens who definitely aren't friendly like E.T.. The warlike extra-terrestrial visitors in this mini-series would eat that Reeses Pieces-loving alien for lunch.
North and South (1985)
A mini-series about the Civil War with a young Patrick Swayze, well before his Roadhouse and Dirty Dancing days. No, he didn't become a ghost and begin dancing during the series. It also had Kirstie Alley, David Carradine, and Johnny Cash. Cash didn't sing "Hurt" during this either.
Shaka Zulu (1986)
Christopher Lee was in it. Enough said. Anything with a badass like him is automatically worth watching. Even his character's name, Lord Bathurst, sounds like someone you don't want to mess with. The funny thing is that most of the mini- series takes place during a time after the titular character was dead.
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Fairy tales are cleary very much in. We've got two Snow White movies on the horizon (one very dark, one very light). LOST writers have fueled ABC's Sunday night ratings with the fairly LOST-y drama, Once Upon a Time. And over on NBC, Grimm has proven to be quite the valuable addition to the Friday night lineup: solidified by the fact that the network has picked up its fantasy-procedural drama for a full season.
NBC ordered nine additional episodes of Grimm, bringing the series to full season status. The story of Grimm follows Det. Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), a homicide investigator who, thanks to a blood lineage that dates back an elite troupe of crime fighters called the Grimms, is branded with the responsibility of fending off the evil fairy tale characters who have begun to invade our world.
It's interesting to consider the relatively young outburst of fairy tales' popularity. Further, we're curious how far it will go. Will this nostalgic captivation last long enough to give shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time healthy runs on their respective networks? Or is the subject matter too niche to keep our interests for that long?
Grimm airs on Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. The series will also enjoy a special Thursday night spot on Dec. 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Check out our interview with stars Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby here.