TV Surf Report: Mini-Series Make A Welcome Return


Santa Monica, CA  — Welcome Back, Mini-Series. You have been missed. Same goes for you, Limited Series. Television needs to mix it up, and Longform Programming brings back viewers whose attention is, um, elsewhere.

Across the Content Delivery System (CDS) spectrum (why even use the word Network anymore?), The Mini-Series is back in development and production.  Anyone besides me remember The Winds of War or Roots or Thorn Birds?  How about North & South?  Pretty successful stuff in their day.

Fox tried unsuccessfully this past season with limited series Gracepoint, a US remake of the UK hit Broadchurch.  The audience never found it, though.

Predictably, HBO leads the charge, however, networks like ABC & NBC have their properties as does AMC, SyFy, and most surprisingly, Hulu.  Nearly all of these projects are literary adaptations.

Here’s what’s in the Development Pipeline:

  • Bernie Madoff on ABC stars Richard Dreyfuss in a 4-hour miniseries adaptation of ABC News reporter Brian Ross’ book, “The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie & Ruth.”
  • Making of the Mob: New York on AMC is an 8-part Docu-Drama spanning 50 years and covering the five crime families that made up the American Mafia.
  • The Night Manager on AMC is a co-production with The BBC that stars Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston (Loki!) in the adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel about a soldier-turned-weapons dealer.
  • War And Peace on The BBC is a 6-parter produced by The Weinstein Co. starring Paul Dano, Lily James, Gillian Anderson, and Jim Broadbent in this adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s infamous novel that cursed every high schooler in Honors English.
  • The Dovekeepers on CBS is a 2-parter from Hollywood’s favorite faith-based producing couple, Roma Downey & Mark Burnett, who’ve adapted Alice Hoffman’s novel.  Ann Peacock did the actual writing, though.  Airs late March/early April.
  • Madame X on HBO stars Anna Paquin in a period miniseries based on Kate Manning’s novel, My Notorious Life.  Paquin executive produces along with Stephen Moyer and Jack Black.
  • Lewis & Clark on HBO stars Casey Affleck in this 6-hour miniseries adaptation of Stephen Ambrose’s novel, Undaunted Courage, produced by Tom Hanks, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt.
  • MS. on HBO explores the life of national treasure Gloria Steinem and stars Marisa Tomei and Kathy Najimy. Feminist George Clooney and Steinem produce.
  • The Casual Vacancy on HBO is a 2-parter starring Michael Gambon in J.K. Rowling’s novel adaptation about, gasp, older people. Airs in late-April in the US after garnering terrific response in the UK.
  • 11/22/63 on Hulu. Yes, Hulu. James Franco stars in this 9-hour miniseries produced by J.J. Abrams and Warner Bros. Playwright Bridget Carpenter adapts Stephen King’s novel about an English teacher who travels back in Time to prevent JFK’s assassination.


  • Jules Maigret Mysteries on ITV showcases Rowan Atkinson in two 2-hour dramas portraying Georges Simeon’s iconic French detective in 1950s Paris.
  • The Reaper on NBC is a 6-hour from The Weinstein Co. based on the book, “The Reaper: Autobiography of One of The Deadliest Special Ops Snipers” by Nicholas Irving, the U.S. Army 3rd Ranger Battalion’s deadliest sniper.  Thanks a lot, Bradley Cooper!
  • A.D. on NBC is a 12-part follow-up to The Bible from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.  Airs Easter Sunday.
  • The Songs of Dolly Parton on NBC are to be a series of telefilms based on/inspired by, you guessed it, the songs of Dolly Parton, who is a terrific writer of such iconic hits as “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene,” and “9 to 5.”   Assuming the first one works, this could be a cool series of telefilms aimed directly at women. Smart move, Bob Greenblatt who has a relationship with the country star after producing the stage version of 9 to 5. Hope it works!
  • The Conquest of The Sun on Nextflix is a 6-hour miniseries from Alfonso Arau that tells the story of how Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortez defeated the Aztec Empire.
  • Tulsa on OWN stars Octavia Spencer in a 4-hour mini chronicle of the largest race riot in US history.
  • Childhood’s End on SyFy is a 6-hour miniseries adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s tome that follows the peaceful invasion of Earth (is there any other kind?). Julian McMahon, Charles Dance, and Colm Meaney star.

Next Up:  Female Showrunners of This Year’s Pilots!

About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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2 Responses to TV Surf Report: Mini-Series Make A Welcome Return

  1. Ben says:

    I love the mini series! Welcome back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom says:

    Exciting times then! Best get a good 6 month stint blocked out next year to watch all this stuff!


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