Everyone who knows me knows that I prefer miniseries to movies when it comes to adaptations of my favorite books. Movies, even multiple releases covering a book or series, just cannot do justice in the way a good miniseries can. Being a child of the 70′s I grew up on these wonderful creations and wish that more authors and film makers would return to that medium.
I am eagerly awaiting the miniseries of The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon coming to the cable channel Starz in the spring of 2014! While I wait to see Gabaldon’s epic on the small screen I will share some favorites here, along with their books.
The Jane Austen classic is not to be missed. Honestly, in younger years, I found it hard to enjoy. I know that flies in the face of many die-hard fans but lying about whether I loved it or not at first glance serves neither you nor this post. If you have felt the same way I challenge you to give the book another try. Then watch the BBC series and get back to me. This 1995 production is the most successful TV period drama ever. It puts all other presentations to shame. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are perfection as Darcy and Elizabeth. I did also adore Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman as Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. The 6 episode length is just right, but I could have lived with Firth and Ehle continuing into infinity in this superb production.
Also from the BBC, yet to be tried by yours truly, a Victorian piece by Elizabeth Gaskell the author of North and South. North and South was also made into a miniseries by the BBC. There was another miniseries also titled North and South but that was from the John Jakes trilogy.
This series is 4 episodes long and is set in rural mid-Victorian England. The book was Gaskell’s last, and some say best, work. It was unfinished at the time of her death. The book chronicles the maturation of Molly Gibson, a sincere young woman whose widowed father, the town doctor, marries Hyacinth Kirkpatrick, a charming but petty widow and former governess in the household of Lord Cumnor.
The unforgettable family saga, airing in 1983, was set in the Outback. It spanned 60 years in 4 episodes and highlighted the forbidden love between Meggie and Father Ralph. This series is from my teenage years and one of those things people my age were not supposed to be reading/watching, along with VC Andrew’s books. The book sold over 10 million copies worldwide and the miniseries won six Emmy’s. Yes, you should try it if you have not.
This series, which aired in 2001 on HBO, is the story of “E” Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their initial training starting in 1942 to the end of World War II. They parachuted behind enemy lines in the early hours of D-Day in support of the landings at Utah beach, participated in the liberation of Carentan and again parachuted into action during Operation Market Garden. They also liberated a concentration camp and were the first to enter Hitler’s mountain retreat in Berchtesgarten. – A wonderful series that makes you proud of our WWII veterans and our country. I had the honor of staying at the General Walker Hotel, which happened to be the Platterhof, a luxury hotel for the inner circle of the SS, while living in Germany and will never forget the tours and things I learned there while on a retreat. To know I walked where these brave men did is amazing.
Oh yes, this was on network televison back in 1990! And yes, it scared and amazed everyone. I had always loved Stephen King, especially his early creepy work and to sit down in front of the TV to see this book come to life was, looking back now, a rare treat. Tim Curry as Pennywise? PURE GENIUS! Get it, watch it, read it.
No miniseries listing would be complete without Roots. I was in grade school in 1977 at the time it aired and it was HUGE where I lived. We did not have very many black families in my hometown area and I knew racism even at that young age. In school, we would reenact each episode the next day. This was without any direction from our teachers and I think it was without their knowledge as well. We learned, by that exercise and by the series, that treating people differently was unfair.
I have a long love affair with books acted out on the small screen and I wish there were more in the works. I could see the entire Wool series of books as an epic miniseries. Also I think the Hunger Games and Mortal Instruments would have been perfectly suited for miniseries runs. I can only cross my fingers that Eli Monpress will be produced for TV. Are there any miniseries from back in the day you loved? Any books you’ve enjoyed that you’d love to see adapted this way?