Hatfields Ring Bag of McCoys Fire Bones

When I was a kid, I loved miniseries. Of course when I was a kid there was no HBO, no VCRs, and you could play any TV series out of order as, other than soap operas, there was no sequential storytelling. How fares the TV miniseries now? Apart from the BBC and Ken Burns (both of whom do miniseries exceedingly well), we have:

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire (2012) – Not Rated

Stemming from a small town, a volcanic eruption triggered by an oil rig ignites a domino effect of eruptions that extends across the world, dooming all of humanity if the devastating string of explosions can’t be stopped.

Ring of Fire isn’t awful. That’s about all I can say for it. They wisely hide their budgetary limitations but shying away from CGI as much as possible. Characters often talk of events that would be shown in a big budget blockbuster. Acting is better than an Asylum movie but not by much.

If they jettisoned a few unnecessary subplots, Ring of Fire would have easily fit in a single movie slot. Also, a note to filmmakers, you don’t have to make your catastrophe global if ALL of the action is local, it comes off very silly. Shaky cam is DEAD, please let it stay that way.

Hatfields & McCoys

Hatfields & McCoys (2012) – TV-14

Close friends Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy return to their neighboring homes after the Civil War — Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy across the river in Kentucky — to building tensions and resentments that soon explode into warfare.”

Hatfields & McCoys is a very good miniseries covering the highlights of the infamous feud. The Hatfields come off as the clear aggressors in the early stages but later the McCoys are unable to put the feud behind them, mostly because they don’t feel as though they’ve gotten even.

The general storyline is fairly factual though the miniseries does up the actual body count during several of the more celebrated incidents. Hatfields & McCoys does succeed at evoking rural life in the late nineteenth century, interfamily relations, and ultimately the pointlessness of the feud.

Bag of Bones

Bag of Bones (2011) – TV-14

Reeling from the sudden death of his wife, author Mike Noonan moves into his backwoods writing retreat, only to be swept up in a supernatural conspiracy that involves a custody battle over a young girl and a vengeful ghost that haunts his house.”

Although the miniseries is often the ideal format for Stephen King adaptations (It, The Stand), Bag of Bones does not work very well. It is not a bad miniseries and Pierce Brosnan is always welcome but there is not much here to recommend. Bag of Bones merely hits the highlights of the novel and we never get invested in the characters. It either needed to be three parts or have portions of the story trimmed and altered to make it more cohesive and coherent.

Lost – Do Not Get on That Plane week

This is Do Not Get on That Plane week. Lost seasons 1-5 are currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Lost season 1-5

“Stranded on a tropical island after their plane crashes 1,000 miles off course, a group of castaways must learn to survive in their new home, avoid the gigantic something crashing through the trees and determine whether they are really alone. Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry OQuinn, Dominic Monaghan and Naveen Andrews head the diverse ensemble cast in this landmark series, which won an Emmy for Best Drama.”

What can I say about one of the best shows on television? It begins with a bang and is endlessly fascinating.

The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous with locales chosen from all over Hawaii. It looks especially good in HD for those who are using a set top box.

The large ensemble cast is definitely one of the reasons the show is such a winner. While there are members who get more attention than others, hardly anyone is skimped on. Almost all of the characters arrive on the island while on the run.

Matthew Fox appears to play our quintessential hero, Dr. Jack Shepherd. It is not long before we find out that while the Doctor is heroic and a natural leader, he is also deeply flawed. He represents the voice of reason. Michael Keaton was originally cast in the role.

Terry OQuinn plays John Locke, almost the polar opposite of Jack. He is a deeply spiritual man who finds his answers on the island. He represents the voice of faith. Terry had previously worked with J.J. Abrams on Alias.

John Locke is not the only character named after a philosopher. Lost also has characters named Jeremy Bentham, Anthony Cooper and Rousseau as well as scientists Faraday and Minkowski.

Other main characters include Sawyer, a rogue, Kate, our woman of mystery, the Kwons, an unhappy Korean couple, the hapless Hurley, and Sayid (my favorite), an Iraqi.

Telling you much more about the characters spoils a few of the surprises though Sawyer, Kate and Jack form the main romantic triangle in the show.

The writing is simply amazing. It manages to be very literate while giving each character their own voice. A common failing among series is that the dialogue of different characters becomes interchangeable.

The writers juggle dozens of plot threads with a great deal of finesse. The only thing that is infuriating is that for every mystery they resolve, they add two more. Having said that, it does come together as one big story as opposed to 24 where Jack Bauer and CTU clearly forget every lesson they learned from each season when the new season starts.

Lost is not the best TV series on instant Netflix (Dexter carries that honor) but I heartily recommend it if you have the time to invest. The first five seasons are currently available on instant Netflix. The current season (6) is supposed to be the last and they are clearly winding up the threads.

People Watch: Two members of the cast of Con Air (covered earlier this week) also appear in lost. Rachel Ticotin appears in two episodes as Captain Teresa Cortez and M.C. Gainey appears in 18 episodes as Tom Friendly.