Monday, April 19, 2010

An Eye on Television

I keep my primary focus on film, but occasionally I'll cast an eye on television. Two stories have captured my attention recently and I believe they are worth noting:

1. "The Pillars of the Earth" miniseries will premiere on Starz in July in 8 parts. The Pillars of the Earth was a international bestseller by Ken Follett about 12th century England set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tear lives and families apart. The book was also part of Oprah's Club, for what that's worth.

The Miniseries boasts a strong cast with Ian McShane, Matthew Macfadyen, Rufus Sewell and Tony Curran. It is directed by Croatian director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, a television director of whom I'm largely unaware. However, he does possess an impressive resume, having directed episodes of "Battlestar Galactica", "Prison Break" and "Heroes".

I can't say exactly why I'm drawn to this, but it's likely due to McShane's involvement and the apparent quality of the trailer.

Now I'm left wondering just one thing: do I have the Starz channel?

2. The second television story I'm following is that of the highly anticipated "Walking Dead" series. "The Walking Dead" is slated to premiere on AMC in October (just in time for Halloween).

There aren't a whole lot of details available about the show just yet, but it is based off of a graphic novel series of the same name by Robert Kirkman. I've read a majority of the run and it's quite good. The story focuses on a group of survivors following the zombie-apocalypse as they struggle against nature, villainous fellow survivors, intense grief and, of course, zombies. The tone of the narrative is framed by the revelation that *gasp* they (the survivors and not the zombies themselves) are the walking dead! It's dreary and it's bleak, but it's great drama, which is probably why it was picked up by AMC.

The facts we do know about the series are: As of the pilot episode, it's being produced, written and directed by Frank Darabont, director of THE GREEN MILE, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE MIST. Darabont is a talented filmmaker, which makes his involvement in the show very exciting. I think he'll be able to capture the group dynamic, the desperation and the horror as well as anyone. There might even be a chance that the television series could achieve greater artistic value than the source material. I've been clamoring for a television series about the zombie apocalypse for a coon's age. It's a story arc that lends itself very well to the medium as it contains a (conceivably) ongoing or everlasting plot. I seem to even recall remarking on how "The Walking Dead" might make a good television series while reading it.

The lead role of Rick Grimes has been cast with British actor, Andrew Lincoln taking the challenge. The show is scheduled to begin filming shortly. When a preview is eventually released, I will be sure to include it here along with any other interesting news that becomes public.

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