tv meme, day 17: favorite miniseries or tv movie

Well big confession here – this was the day in the meme I was probably most looking forward to. I must admit that for a time – which is now seemingly dead – miniseries were actually quite good and dependable and a highly enjoyable method of entertainment. But as cable and network channels alike are abandoning the medium, I’d like to reminisce about the best one ever put to film, A&E/the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.

In what amounts to a five-hour epic that is impossibly loyal to Jane Austen’s original work, this particular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is not only the hands-down best, but it also would rank in my top 50 films of all time had it been a theatrical release. Not to knock the 2005 incarnation, for it certainly had its merits, but there’s no beating the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle match-up. Perfection. I know that viewing the masterpiece is a little bit of an undertaking considering its length, but its so worth your while. Aside from the genius subtle chemistry between the two leads, the series is jam-packed full of great character actors in the minor roles. Particularly of note are Alison Steadman and Benjamin Whitrow as Mrs. and Mr. Bennet. From things constantly “vexing on her poor nerves” to remarking on his daughters as “the silliest girls in all of England,” the Bennet parents are eccentric and wholly British fun. And Carl Davis’ score is a knock-out – check his comparable work on the film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility for a reference point.

But my miniseries-loving stage didn’t pass without yielding a few other favorites. Though none come even close to P&P, there were a few worth mentioning here. First, 2001’s ABC adaptation of Anne Frank’s story was surprisingly fresh considering how many times this story has been told. Particularly of note are the performances by leads Hannah Taylor Gordon and Ben Kingsley, as well as the fact that the production shows the before and after of the time in the attic, often to harrowing effect. Also, I may’ve been the only person to watch them, but 2000’s NBC epic miniseries The 10th Kingdom and ABC’s Arabian Nights from the same year were both highly entertaining works. The former for its creative use of pretty much every fairy tale you can imagine and the latter for its skilled performance from Mili Avital and well-thought-out story of Scheherazade. Finally, I’d like to give one more shout-out to the insanely long, but worthwhile Taken, the 2002 alien abduction epic from the Sci-Fi Channel that, though approaching 20 total hours, bests most full-on television series.

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