Saturday, March 21, 2009

Those great 70s miniseries

One of the beauties of Netflix is their huge library of films and old tv series. It's great fun to reach back into your memories and revisit some of your favorites. For example, I recently revisited one of my favorite 60s films, "Rome Adventure." Suzanne Pleshette, Troy Donohue, Angie Dickinson... a great way to pass a rainy Saturday afternoon.

So when I read of the re-release of that classic miniseries from 1976, "Captains and the King," I knew what to put at the top of my queue. For me, this miniseries represents the pinnacle of that long lost genre, the multi-hour miniseries. Start with a cast of both fading stars and up-and-coming talents, add a script based on Taylor Caldwell's best selling multi-generational novel, and throw in a hunky lead - it is the perfect example of a sad lamented long lost type of programming.

The series had held up pretty well to the passing years. Caldwell loosely based her novel on the Kennedys - a charismatic patriarch (Richard Jordan), an immigrant from Ireland, who is determined to be the best and to make his son the first Irish Catholic president of the US. Jordan was a renowned stage actor (and grandson of Judge Learned Hand), and it looked like this would be his breakthrough in film. As Joseph Armagh, he commands attention - he steals the show. Tall, handsome, charismatic... Yet as the IMDB describes him, he was "an actor rather than a star." His film roles over the next decade were not chosen to contribute to his popularity, but to allow him to grow as an actor. Sadly, he died at 55 of a brain tumor, in 1993, a fantastic talent lost.

What a great time for epic television the 70s was! Think of some of the great miniseries that came out of that era: Roots, Rich Man Poor Man, Centennial, North and South, Holocaust, The Thorn Birds, The Winds of War, Think of the talents discovered in them: Meryl Streep, Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, Richard Chamberlain (the true king of the miniseries)... Where are those dramas today? HBO has taken up the mantle somewhat, as has Showtime. But instead of investing in yet another reality show, it's time for the networks to embrace this type of programming again!

In the meantime, thanks to DVD, we can relive those epics once again.

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Blogger Ted D said...

Loved North and South; read the books and everything.

Just don't tell anybody. ;)

8:34 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Your secret is safe with me!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Ted D said...

Wait a minute....

Is this on the Internet?

9:26 PM  
Blogger Trot's Hat said...

I adore North and South (both forms), and therefore have another reason to heard Ted. And thanks, Beth--just added C&K to my queue, as well!

3:43 AM  
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