A drama that lasts longer than a Made-for-TV Movie
but less than a season. A Mini Series
is broadcast over several nights (usually at least three), often consecutively. Production values are frequently more lavish than for a regular series, and the cast usually includes big-name non-TV stars.
Miniseries are most commonly adaptations of large books, and as such differ from other shows in that they place a high value identifying the author, to the point that the author's name is frequently embedded in the program's title.
Although the miniseries format has produced some of the most outstanding television in history (Rich Man Poor Man
), it has also been responsible for some of the worst TV as well (Princess Daisy
, Hollywood Wives
Parts of a miniseries are not always shown on consecutive nights. Recent Stephen King miniseries in particular, for some reason, tend to go with a Tuesday/Thursday/Friday or Monday/Tuesday/Thursday sequence. This is usually done when the network broadcasting the miniseries has one particularly strong night (ratings-wise
) and doesn't wish to pre-empt it for the miniseries.
Note that this means different things to different people. An American viewer would consider a eight-episode run to be a mini series, especially if it doesn't get a renewal, while such a run is commonly a full season
in the UK. Not to mention in Asian countries such as China and Japan, where the the concept of TV seasons is much weaker, miniseries tend to be the de facto
style of TV programming for dramas, with anything from 10 to 100 episodes per series.
- The first American Mini Series was Sanburg's Lincoln, broadcast in 6 parts between 1974 and 1975.
- QB VII was broadcast in 1974, and Davy Crockett appeared in 1955.
- Rich Man Poor Man
- The format was arguably created by The Forsyte Saga, a British series made in 1967 which pioneered the "finite series" concept and proved quite popular in the United States.
- Masterpiece Theatre, which broadcast The Forsyte Saga to an American audience, became a major venue for British-made miniseries.
- The most significant mini series (in terms of its place in both ratings and television history) was Roots (1977). Its cultural impact — mostly due to the momentum it gained though its then-daring eight-nights-in-a-row broadcast schedule — turned the Mini Series into a major event. A follow-up, Roots: The Next Generations, arrived in 1979, and 1988 brought the TV movie Roots: The Gift.
- Rich Man Poor Man
- The Thorn Birds
- Reilly Ace Of Spies
- The Winds of War and its sequel War And Remembrance
- The Singing Detective
- The Kennedys
- Lexx, The 4400 and Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) were Mini Series that proved popular enough to be transformed into traditional Dramatic Hour Long shows.
- Fresno a little known Affectionate Parody of 1980s soaps.
- North And South
- North and South (Trilogy)
- Storm Of The Century
- The first three books in the Dune series were made into two miniseries. The first was plagued by a low budget; the second had a slightly higher budget and was better.
- A&E made tons of miniseries, many of which were adaptations of classic literature (Horatio Hornblower, Pride and Prejudice), before Network Decay set in.
- Many of which in conjunction with a UK network, usually ITV.
- State of Play
- The Tenth Kingdom
- The play Angels In America was turned into a miniseries on HBO. Starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, and Mary-Louise Parker (among others), it went on to surpass Roots in Emmy wins.
- Generation Kill
- John Adams
- Band Of Brothers
- The BBC did Count Dracula, one of the most comprehensive adaptations of the novel to exist.
- Master of the Game and If Tomorrow Comes, both based on Sidney Sheldon novels. Many of his books became made-for-TV movies, often two-parters, but these are the only ones that warrant the miniseries name, as both are at least five hours long apiece.
- The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed
- Into The West
- Taken (No relation to that movie...)
- Ten Point Five is a Disaster Movie miniseries made for NBC. It has...problems.
- The 2000s' adaptations of Dune and Children of Dune
- Dead Set
- The Lost Room
- Persons Unknown
- The Pillars Of The Earth, 2010 miniseries adapted from the novel of the same name.
- The Devil To Pay In The Backlands, a 1985 Brazilian miniseries based on the book of the same name.
- Guest From The Future, a 1984 Soviet miniseries based on Alice Girl From The Future.
- TASS Is Authorized To Declare
- The Second Coming
- Casanova (2005) by The BBC.
- Seventeen Moments Of Spring
- Torchwood: Miracle Day
- Desperate Romantics
- Clue by The Hub
- Black Mirror
- To the Ends of the Earth, adapted from a trilogy by author William Golding.
- Arabian Nights
- From The Earth To The Moon
- Moby Dick
- Jesus Of Nazareth
- The Bible
- The BBC are fond of creating mini series of classic literature. As well as examples above, one of their most loved is a six part mini series of Pride and Prejudice (yes, the one with the Colin Firth), as well as other Jane Austen adaptations such as their four part mini series of Emma.
- Inquisitio, an eight episodes French series set in The Late Middle Ages.
- Olivers Travels
- The Sinking Of The Laconia
- Samurai Girl, based on the book series of the same name.
- Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter
- In The Flesh
- V, which actually consisted of two seperate mini-series, with the second receiving the subtitle The Final Battle. These were followed by a standard season-based TV series.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel, a BBC adaptation from 1999. 2 instalments, 6 episodes.
- Wives And Daughters, two adaptations by BBC (from 1971 and 1999).
- Sharpe (two additional miniseries from 2006 and 2008)