Miniseries have been around since the birth of television but it was the 1980s that really defined what they are and cemented them in our collective consciousness. Or at least that’s how I remember it. As a kid, I can remember grabbing the television guide from the Sunday paper and very carefully mapping out my primetime viewing for the week. I had certain shows on most nights that I watched every week, but some times there was a special - the Olympics, an awards show, or Circus of the Stars - that would take precedence over my normal TV watching. There was always much debate on how good a particular special was going to be and whether or not it precluded the watching of one of my regular shows.
Miniseries were especially fraught as they would push out any number of shows over the course of multiple nights. Luckily, someone invented the VCR and many of my favorite shows were saved as I could record them and watch them at a later time. There were lots of great miniseries that ran through the '80s including an adaptation of Stephen King’s It that starred Tim Curry as the killer clown.
Of course, if you’ve ever gone back and watched a miniseries from the '80s, you will immediately recognize that things don’t always hold up to your nostalgic memories. If you ever wonder how far we’ve come over the last couple of decades in terms of quality in television, just watch an old miniseries. Production values are low. Budgets are cheap. Acting is often subpar. Yet I, and many many other people, loved that stuff. I guess when that’s what you are used to it looks all right.
I haven’t gone back to watch It since it originally aired but I did recently try another Stephen King miniseries again. The Stand remains a great book, but the 1994 miniseries is nigh unwatchable. It is ripe for another adaptation and maybe we’ll get one if Part 2 of this new It does as well as this first one.
I have not read the book upon which It was based. I did watch the Tim Curry miniseries and memory says I loved it (though I will not be trying to rewatch it anytime soon). Certainly, the production values of this one will be miles above the previous budget and it's gotta look better than anything shot for TV in the '90s. The trailers and general look of this new film look pretty amazing. Reviews have been mostly positive, but mixed.
I like scary movies. I like Stephen King. I’m making It my pick of the week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
The Foreigner: Jackie Chan seeks justice for his daughter after she is killed in a terrorist attack. Judging from the trailer, Pierce Brosnan probably did it. Jackie Chan movies are always fun for their sheer physicality, but with Chang turning 65 this year, there should be interesting to see what they can do with the old body.
Young Mr. Lincoln (Criterion Collection): John Ford directed and Henry Fonda stars as the young president facing his greatest court case.
My Little Pony: The Movie: My daughter is a great fan of the newish TV series and my dear wife took her to the movie without me. They both enjoyed it and I have no doubt this film will wind up on my shelves very soon. Steve Geise has our review.
Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years, Vol. 1 - Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies: Arrow Video has put together this boxed set of early films from the guy best known for directing Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill.
Bullet Head: Three criminals are trapped inside a warehouse with the law closing in. Stars Adrien Brody, Antonio Banderas, and John Malkovich.
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House: Biopic about the guy known for decades only as “Deep Throat” who provided journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with information about the Watergate scandal.
Marshall: Chadwick Boseman stars in this biopic of Thurgood Marshall the first African American Supreme Court Justice. Also stars Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, and Dan Stevens.