What Historical Book/Person/Topic would you like to see HBO do as a miniseries?

As a huge fan of Deadwood, Rome, Band of Brothers, and having just finished watching the John Adams miniseries (which I thought was good but the least of the lot- drags too much after his return from Europe), I’m always in awe of the detail and quality they give historical period pieces in sets/costumes/acting/casting/etc… (All have anachronisms and historic deviations- sometimes whoppers- but they’re still better than most big screen and almost all network and basic cable movies.)

What “period pieces” would you like to see them try?

I’d love to see them do a miniseries on James Town. There are any number of books they could base it on, or it could be a fictional plot ala Rome or Deadwood (both of which used fictional characters and historical characters who were fictionalized). Plimoth Plantation could also work well, but if you really wanted to get it right you’d have to go into a lot of detail about Anglicanism/Puritanism/the Netherlands/etc. than most people would be willing to sit through.

I’d also love to see a Band of Brothers style treatment of the Civil War, preferably with a unit from each side. The units should face each other in the final conflict of course.

I’ve mentioned before that I’d love to see an HBO miniseries of Gone With the Wind that remains true to the book in its characterizations and sets and brings to screen some of the side plots and supporting characters necessarily scraped from the movie in interest of time. I honestly think that with Deadwood and Band of Brothers style detail it could stand on its own from Vivien Leigh/Clark Gable and be almost a different story. (OTOH, the Margaret Mitchell Estate [controlled by her great-nephews these days] acts like they’re the keepers of the Holy Shroud when it comes to licensing, though it’ll eventually be in public domain.)

A miniseries on the life of Mark Twain could be excellent. In addition to his own life there are the people that he met and or befriended- everyone from Tom Thumb to Brigham Young to the crowned heads of Europe and Russia to Tesla to Helen Keller to W.E.B. Dubois to various presidents- you get the idea. His tales of the west are hysterically funny even if just filmed as written.
What would you like to see them fund?

Joseph Smith- prophet or fraud, the man was so freakin’ bigger than life.


Paul & the early Church.

Vlad Dracula.

Abraham Lincoln.

Sir John Hawkwood. (I guess nobody can be sure if the “cutting the nun in half” story is true, but it’s too good to leave out.)

Tammany Hall. It lasted from 1789 to the 1960s.

How about the Crusades instead?

A history of the foundation of Israel, from the Dreyfuss Affair to the ending of the War of Independance in 1949. A real in-depth exploration, with all the glorious and not-so-glorious moments. The focus can be on the few characters who were active for most of the period - David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann, Ze’ev Jabotinsky - as well as others, like Chaim Nachman Bialik, Yosef Trumpledor, Orde Wingate, Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan. If done well, it would be incredible.

I would really like to see a historically accurate miniseries about Henry VIII. The Tudors is good, soap opera-like fun, but the actual story is just as filled with sex, murder, betrayal, and violence.

A look at college life in Paris in the Late Middle Ages, when Erasmus, Rabelais and Ignacius Loyola were all at the Sorbonne at the same time (Francois Villon was dead before they were born, but we’d work him into the script somehow). It’d be like “The Paper Chase” meets “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” I tell ya.

In an earlier threads asking this question I’d proposed a movie about Teddy Roosevelt’s children. They each took an aspect of his personality and either became victims of it or saw it through to unexpected results. And frankly, they were more three-dimensional than he was (except Archie, who was an asshole).

The Crimean War has so far only been limited to the Charge of the Light Brigade (and in which the sacrifice of the Turks is always short-changed), and Florence Nighitngale to the detriment of the better nurse Mary Seacole.

But it was a short enough war to make a concise movie or miniseries, but wide enough to deserve a better look; with naval battesl in the Baltic and off Vladivostok. At Sevastopol it could show Leo Tolstoy as a young officer inside the fort while Charles Gordon was outside trying to get in.

Some other moments that lend themselves to cinematics was the charge of the Heavy brigade, as comic as the Light’s was tragic, the Thin Red Line when the Scots stood up against a cavalry charge that would scare most people to death, the introduction by the Turks of cigarettes into Western culture, and the incident when the British intercepted a supply wagon that incuded a Russian officer’s extensive porn collection.

Stephen King’s story “Dolan’s Cadillac” is just begging to be a mini-series.

The life, adventures, successes and failures of Demetrios Poliorcetes.

Or broader-based, the struggles of the Diadochi generally to either the death of Seleucus Nicator ( the last of Alexander’s officers to go ) or the final enthronement of Antigonus Gonatas in Macedon ( the last dynastic settlement in the struggle ).

Ooh- then the Henricksons could watch it and get all bent out of shape over the “liberal bias” (but Margene would secretly enjoy it and blog about it)*

*Sorry- 18 months is wayyy too long to wait for the third season of Big Love

I would like to see the fall of the Aztec empire done in epic style ala Rome.

Ah, but which Crusade? Definitely not the Second. How about the Fourth? Wouldn’t that be a pisser?

I’d love to see a properly done HBO-style miniseries about the Napoleon wars or Jane d’Arc (in the context of the hundred-year war)

A miniseries about Charles Darwin and the voyages of the Beagle.

An adaptation of Gore Vidal’s Burr.

MLK and Albert Einstein would also be good subjects.

The Marx Brothers.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Humanitarian. Statesman. Hero of one crisis and goat in another. Preferably with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (with some of the material from The Ladies of Grace Adieu thrown in)?

A look at the Roanoke colony would be kind of cool.

Ooh, the Diadochi and Fourth Crusade sound good.

I’d like something on the Anabasis. And if they could make a miniseries that made sense of the War of the Roses or the Thirty Years’ War, that would be a help.

I’d like to see them do Ian Toll’s Six Frigates. The story of the founding of the US Navy and the war of 1812.