After its heyday in the 70s and early 80s (Roots, anyone, or The Thorn Birds?), the miniseries declined in popularity on broadcast television. However, the last ten to twenty years have seen a resurgence (now often rebranded as limited series) on cable and streaming networks. Longer than movies in total run time, the limited series allows for greater character development and extended story telling, perfect for book adaptations. Find the following titles, and more, in SPL’s DVD collection.
On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was killed in Dallas and the world changed forever. But what if it could be changed back? Jake Epping is an English teacher who accepts the monumental mission of trying to prevent the assassination of JFK. Luckily, he has the help of Sadie Dunhill, a resourceful librarian who’s trying to reconcile secrets of her own. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
Starring James Franco, Sarah Gadon, and George MacKay. Originally aired on Hulu in 2016. 8 episodes.
This award-winning series tells the story of the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the cleanup effort that followed. Based on Voices From Chernobyl, by Belarusian Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, a compilation of interviews with survivors of the nuclear reactor accident.
Starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson. Originally aired on HBO in 2019. 5 episodes.
This dramatized miniseries examines Grant’s life story using his perspective and experiences to explore a turbulent time in history: the Civil War and Reconstruction. Based on the acclaimed biography by Ron Chernow.
Starring Justin Salinge, Carel Nel and Dianne Simpson. Originally broadcast on History Channel in 2020. 3 episodes.
Triggered by a murder based on misunderstandings and an illicit love affair, this is the dramatic historic feud that teeters on the brink of an all-out civil war as friends and neighbors join opposing sides in a rivalry that would ultimately shape American history.
Starring Bill Paxton, Kevin Costner and Tom Berenger. Originally broadcast on the History Channel in 2012. 3 episodes.
This series follows Margaret and Helen Schlegel, two intelligent, idealistic sisters living together in Edwardian London with their hypochondriac brother, Tibby. Their loving but interfering Aunt Juley tries to keep the siblings in line after the death of their parents, but a series of events pushes the sisters to lead unorthodox lives full of romance, tragedy, and drama. Based on the novel by E.M. Forster.
Starring Hayley Atwell, Philippa Coulthard, and Tracey Ullman. Originally aired on PBS’s Masterpiece in 2017. 4 episodes.
This series charts the hopes and heartaches of a single, middle class, Los Angeles mother as she fights to win her daughter’s affections during the Great Depression. Based on the novel by James M. Cain.
Starring Kate Winslet , Guy Pearce, and Evan Rachel Wood. Originally aired on HBO in 2011. 5 episodes.
An adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel, following a cast of characters struggling to survive in 19th century war-torn France. Not to be confused with the musical, this six episode series doesn’t skimp on character development, giving a complete and compelling screen rendition.
Starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. Originally broadcast on PBS’s Masterpiece in 2018. 6 episodes.
This award-winning series follows the lives of three men and their fellow Marines across the Pacific theater during World War II. Based on true stories.
Starring James Badge Dale, Jon Seda, Joseph Mazzello, and Rami Malek. Executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Originally aired on HBO in 2010. 10 episodes.
A reporter confronts the psychological demons from her past when she returns to her hometown to cover a violent murder. Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn.
Starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Chris Messina. Originally aired on HBO in 2018. 8 episodes.