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The 1980s: True Golden Age of the Mini-Series?

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Oct 06, 2013 | 10:00am EDT

Shogun Richard ChamberlainNBC

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.

Shogun (1980)

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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