A landmark in the miniseries genre, which occupies a permanent niche alongside "Roots," "Centennial" and "Rich Man, Poor Man", this 12-hour, six-part adaptation of James Clavell's best-seller follows the fortunes of an ambitious English navigator who is shipwrecked with his Dutch crew in feudal Japan, finds himself enmeshed in a long battle between two powerful warlords, and eventually becomes the first western Shogun (or chief samurai). Unique in its initial presentation with much of it spoken in untranslated Japanese (subtitles were added in its network rerun several years later), it had a voice-over narration by Orson Welles, made a matinee idol of Richard Chamberlain, and introduced to American TV veteran Japanese star Toshiro Mifune (as the Shogun) and newcomer Yoko Shimada (as Chamberlain's love interest and interpreter).
All three stars, in addition to Yuki Meguro (as a samurai warrior) and John Rhys-Davies (as a flamboyant Portuguese pirate ship captain), received Emmy Award nominations for acting. Winning an Emmy as Outstanding Dramatic Series, "Shogun" also received nominations for direction, writing, photography, production design, art direction, set decoration, editing and film sound editing--and winning for costume design and main title design. Subsequently it was edited down from 12 hours to just over three for a theatrical version shown overseas and to a two-hour-plus version for home videotape and videodisc (these had some nudity as well as more graphic violence than was in the miniseries). In July 1984, "Shogun" was given a network premiere in a 2 1/2 hour movie form.