Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Starring in alphabetical order

There's nothing Mrs F-C and I like more than a mini-series. Usually to be enjoyed as the nights start to draw in, we've started earlier than usual with my picking up Holocaust in a sale in Jersey.

An odd thing to make a starry mini-series about, but I'm sure that when it first aired in 1978 it was probably quite something. The subject matter is of course shocking. It follows the story of a Jewish family from 1935 to after the war, taking in everything that entails. Believe you me, no stone is left unturned. You dont' even need me to tell you what those stones are, but they're far-reaching into every related corner of the history of the Holocaust.

The best thing about it is how full it is of well-known faces. Meryl Streep, already a biggish star back then is one. It also boasts David Warner (channelled by Ralph Fiennes in Schindlers List it's plain to see), Robert Stephens, a very young Tony Haygarth, Nigel Hawthorne, T P McKenna, James Woods, Rosemary Harris, Michael Moriarty, Sam Wanamaker, Tom Bell - the list is endless. Then there's all sorts of cameos by well-known faces. It's epic. They don't make these much anymore.

We've seen Rich Man, Poor Man, Roots, QBVII, you name it. When was the last time a truly epic, large scale, time-spanning lavish mini-series was on our screens? I don't count trash like The Deep cos it may have some big names but there aren't enough of them. And it's rubbish.

The late Seventies/early Eighties are truly the most productive time for this sort of thing. It seemed you could get anyone of any calibre to appear in them. And they were always talked about. Perhaps they do do them, but they're just not called mini-series anymore. Remember things like The Thorn Birds, Lace, Hollywood Wives? Packed with stars, and some currently reshowing on CBS Drama too. I know Red Scharlach wrote a great piece about them for TVCream but I can't find it. Can anyone provide the link.

Are you a fan?


Matthew Rudd said...

I really enjoyed Shogun. Does that count? The Chamberlain - again - rising to become a Samurai warrior having come close to beheading the moment he landed in Japan.

"I'm not an enemy, Pilot. In fact, I don't think I could've been a better friend."

Five-Centres said...

Any James Michener counts. Made for the mini-series treatment.

Mondo said...

Roots, Holocaust - loved them, but bailed around North and South time (one for the parents that). Homegrown and not quite as epic, Bouqet of Barbed Wire was another adult drama always whispered about by 'in the know' grown ups

Five-Centres said...

That's about to return with Trevor Eve, Mondo, so keep your eyes peeled.

I think to be truly epic you must be made in the USA.

Bright Ambassador said...

The problem with The Deep is that people rather like the idea of James Nesbitt and Minnie Driver being trapped in a submarine.

Chris Hughes said...


You might want to wear sunglasses before looking at that, as it's all in the old yellow-on-black TVC house style.

I may have mentioned it before, but my favourite mini-series was Deceptions, starring Stefanie Powers as twin sisters - one a housewife, one a rich jet-setter - who secretly swap places for the weekend (adopts 1980s BBC1 announcer voice) with dramatic consequences.

Five-Centres said...

That sounds like a classic, Chris. No doubt from a book by Judith Krantz or someone like that.

Chris Hughes said...

Sadly not, but one hell of a cast...


Ishouldbeworking said...

Ooh, Holocaust. Very uncomfortable memories of watching it as a teenager with a bunch of mates, at a Jewish friend's house. His mother became completely hysterical, and I can just remember the sound of her screaming as her husband tried to get her out of the room.

Still makes me shudder.