Perhaps it’s because I’m a recovering English major and former drama geek, but I’m a total sucker for a good miniseries—probably because I’ve had to watch more Masterpiece Theatre and BBC adaptations than I can count. But it’s become one of my favorite art forms, and when done right, a miniseries can be an excellent way to tell a story. It’s longer than a film, which gives a story time to develop, but it’s shorter than an actual TV show, which means that it concludes faster. Instant gratification! I hate having to wait to see how a story ends. Seriously. I used to be the kind of reader who would read the very last page of a book as soon as I got it. Madness, I tell you. I don’t do that anymore, but I still have very little patience for drawn out stories. Anyway, here are a few of my favorite miniseries that I think you should check out.
Hatfields & McCoys
I’d been looking forward to seeing this after I kept seeing previews for it in the movie theatre (you know those “First look” segments—like, the pre-previews?). It was just released. There have been many other adaptations of this very famous historical feud, but I feel like this one is probably the best. This particular one was produced by and aired on The History Channel, and I really hope they make more productions like this one. It has a great cast–Bill Paxton, Kevin Costner, Jena Malone, among others. It’s full of romance, action, and revenge. It’s such a Shakespearean story, except it all actually happened, which makes it even better. Highly recommended if you like your history with a twist of drama.
Doctor Zhivago was one of my favorite books as a teenager, and when I found an adaptation with Keira Knightley as Lara, it was pretty much love at first sight. I’ve seen the old adaptations of Dr. Z from the days of old, but this newer version really captures the pain and the grit of the book. This is a classic story about politics, affairs, sex, rebellion and more. Definitely my kind of story! And can I just say that I have never loved anyone in a film as much as I love Hans Matheson as Yuri Zhivago? Sigh. He’s dreamy. Wartorn Russia is just so romantic!
This one is different than the others on this list because it’s set in a modern era, and it’s definitely quirky. Adaptations of Alice in Wonderland will never get old for me. I was intrigued by this modern version that aired on the SyFy channel a couple years ago. It’s very different than all other Alice retellings I’ve seen, and I really enjoy it. This is a very stylistic version—if you can’t tell by the screen shots—and it features Alice as a judo sensei, of all things. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will. There’s also a lot more sci-fi in it than any other Alice I’ve seen. I enjoyed the cast, particularly Andrew Lee Potts as Hatter, who becomes a love interest forAlice. Basically, it’s your normal Alice story, but with assassins and a bit of romance. If I were tasked with writing a retelling ofAlice, this is probably what it would have looked like.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
I’ll be the first to admit that this was not my favorite book when I was taking British literature, but after seeing several film adaptations, I’m in love with the story. I first watched the 1998 version, and I liked it a lot, although I never liked the main actress who played Tess. Then, I randomly stumbled upon this 2008 version with Gemma Arterton—whom I adore—and that was that. This is one of the saddest stories ever, I think, and Tess is such a complex character that she deserves to be portrayed by someone sweet, sincere and heartfelt like Arterton. The musical score just adds to the ache. It also features my lover, Hans Matheson (yes, Yuri Zhivago), although he plays the villain in this movie.
There are a few other miniseries I want to check out–like Birdsong and Great Expectations, to name a few–but these ones here are always on my rewatch list. What are some of your recommendations?