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10 TV Mini-series To Add To Your Entertainment Collection

Updated on October 22, 2013
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Denis is a freelancer addicted to football ('s not soccer!). He thinks POLITICS and REALITY TV were invited to dumb us down.

A Band of Brothers
A Band of Brothers | Source

This is a genre of TV entertainment that rarely receives the attention it deserves. Lacking the hype and glamour that follows movies on the silver screen and TV series, mini-series tend to fly under the radar; but still provide the same quality entertainment.

From the early days when ROOTS hit our screens, mini-series have been a great alternative to movies that tend to be too short, or TV series that are so long that they lose their way. Here a couple of the best around:

1. Band Of Brothers

One of the most acclaimed mini-series in TV history, Band of Brothers chronicles the events affecting part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment known as Easy Company.

The show begins at Camp Toccoa, Georgia where Easy Company is undergoing jump training. The show trails the group as they land at Normandy, take part in the failed Operation Market Garden and up until the war's end with the surrender of Japan.

The show is a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks who had previously worked together on the much-acclaimed war epic, Saving Private Ryan.

2. Battlestar Galactica

Before the award-winning series of the same name, there was the 2003 mini-series. The mini-series brought back to life an iconic sci-fi tale that had a Terminator-like theme to it. But unlike the James Cameron action classic, this is dramatic sci-fi at its very best.

The story revolves around the conflict between humans and the machines they created but failed to control. The Twelve Colonies' 40-year armistice with the robots - Cylons - they created ends abruptly when the human home-worlds come under a surprise nuclear attack. With most of the population wiped out, the only thing standing between man and extinction is the soon-to-be retired space battleship known as Battlestar Galactica.

Under the leadership of Galactica's commanding officer, William Adama and the surprising successor to the presidency, Laura Roslin; the human race fights against all odds to stay alive.

What stands out in this sci-fi drama is the rich variety of themes that are explored all through the space conflict. The themes of religion and politics clearly stand out.

3. Into The West

Set during 1800s expansion of America, the story revolves around two families - a Native Indian and White American - as their lives intertwine over history. The story is narrated by Jacob of the Wheeler family (Matthew Settle) and Loved By the Buffalo (Joseph M. Marshall III).

The series has a star-filled cast that includes Keri Russell, Josh Brolin, Jessica Capshaw, Tom Berenger, Lance Henriksen and Rachel Leigh Cook among others.

4. Hatfields & McCoys

One of America's most famous family feuds is brought to life by the History channel. With Kevin Costner as William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield; Bill Paxton as Randolph "Randall" McCoy; and Tom Berenger as Jim Vance, the ever antagonistic uncle of Devil Anse, Hatfields and McCoys chronicles the famous feud and its destructive path through the landscape of West Virginia and Kentucky.

The wheels are set in motion when Asa Harmon McCoy is murdered for presumably fighting for the hated Union Army. What ensues is tale of murderous family loyalty and tragic misunderstandings that leave the two families at loggerheads.

5. The Pacific

Considered to be a companion piece to the acclaimed 2001 miniseries - Band of Brothers, The Pacific chronicles the Japanese-American Pacific conflict during World War II. The show follows the exploits of three Marines - Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) , Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) and John Basilone (Jon Seda) - who were in different regiments of the 1st Marine Division.

The show follows the Marines as they take part in famous battles such as Okinawa, Cape Gloucester and Iwo Jima.

This is another successful collaboration between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

6. Arabian Nights

The 2000 Anglo-American adaptation of the famous medieval epic One Thousand and One Nights, features Mili Vital as Scheherazade and Dougray Scott as Shahryar, the king. Shahryar goes mad after accidently killing his wife in a failed coup attempt.

The king is left with extreme trust issues when it comes to women and kills every bride he marries. A consequence of a local law that states he has to be married to remain on the throne and in the process, avoid losing it to his hated brother.

Scheherazade, the prime minister's clever daughter volunteers to marry the king with a plan to cure him of his madness and hence, save herself from execution. Scheherazade is a childhood friend of the king and secretly holds a torch for him. Her plan to make him forget his wife's betrayal involves telling him a story. She tells a story every night and leaves it on a cliffhanger every dawn so as to keep him interested. The stories are laced with hidden moral teachings that hopeful will clear the cloud of rage that blinds the king.

The five famous stories told include;

  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
  • The Tale of the Poor Hunchback
  • Aladdin and the Magic Lamp
  • The Sultan and the Beggar
  • The Three Princes

7. The Bible

This surprise History channel hit of 2013 supposedly covers the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in one grand narrative. Surprisingly, the series is produced by Mark Burnet - better known as a producer of prime-time hit reality shows like Survivor.

The miniseries touches on such famous stories as Noah's Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, Joshua, Jews in Babylon and the story of Jesus Christ.

There was a slight controversy when the show's Satan turned out to be an Obama look-alike. The History channel had to reject claims that the casting was deliberate.

8. American Horror Story

Is in its third season; and, with each season considered to be a self-contained mini-series. The plot changes each season and the recurring cast members given new roles.

Considered to be one of the most scariest show on TV, American Horror Story includes such scary themes as the existence of ghosts, the Grim Reaper, alien abductions, serial killers and most recently, witchcraft.

The actors who have had recurring roles include: Jessica Lange, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto and Lily Rabe among others.


A modern British adaptation of the famous classic that stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson.

The show is categorized as a mini-series; even though, it has more than one 'season' of showing. Sherlock helps the local Metropolitan Police Service in solving crimes and as a result, encounters his arch-enemy - Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott). The third installment is expected in the immediate future.

10. The Pillars Of The Earth

The story set during the 12th century and, before and during The Anarchy (Civil war in England and Normandy). The story begins with the sinking of the White Ship on the coast of England, and with it the true heir to the throne of England. King Henry I of England is left without a clear successor as Matilda is his only living heir. He eventually dies and leaves the kingdom in chaos.

It chronicles the struggles of the small town of Kingsbridge as the locals try to build a cathedral amidst warfare and chaos; brought on by the succession dispute between Matilda (Maude) and Stephen of Blois, nephew to the deceased king.

Prior Philip, with the expertise of Tom Builder and his family, attempts to build a cathedral in Kingsbridge and in the process, establish the town as a significant market center and detour for religious pilgrims. The town faces violent opposition from a rival town known as Shiring.

Which Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg collaboration is better?

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