Epic Television Miniseries

A Critical History


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About the Book

To paraphrase silent movie queen Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s classic 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, “The epic miniseries are big! It’s television that got small!” This is especially true when one compares such iconic epic miniseries as Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), Roots (1977), Holocaust (1978), Shogun (1980), The Winds of War (1983), War and Remembrance (1988-89) and Angels in America (2003) to today’s ordinary television programming. This work traces the historical trajectory of the epic miniseries and delves into the character archetypes and themes that recur in the genre, giving close critical attention to more than 40 miniseries. A filmography is included.

About the Author(s)

Author John De Vito currently works in the media center of the Boston Public Library, where he serves as a member of the film selection committee.
Frank Tropea attended the University of Massachusetts—Amherst and went on to receive his M.A. from Harvard University. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

John De Vito and Frank Tropea
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4149-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5733-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

Chapter 1 • Beginnings: The Melodramatic Impulse      9

Chapter 2 • The Triumph of the Heroic Slave      30

Chapter 3 • The Extraordinary Ordinary      53

Chapter 4 • Visions, Values and the Void      81

Chapter 5 • Transitional Places      102

Chapter 6 • The Lady Is a Champ      127

Chapter 7 • Outer and Outré Spaces      154

Afterword: Where We Are and Where Are We Going      177

Epic Miniseries Credits      179

Chapter Notes      199

Bibliography      207

Index      211