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

The Borgias?
Or Robert the Bruce, not just as a sequel to Braveheart.

Too bad the Flashman movie was a victim of 60’s excess. A series of big budget Flashman adventures could give us real insight into several 19th century stories. And HBO could show all the racy bits!

The Teapot Dome scandal.

Six Frigates would be awesome.

For something a little more outre for American audiences: a historical drama focusing on a family or group of characters beginning in, say, 1912 Istanbul, going through to about 1925 or 1930. WWI, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and the founding of modern Turkey. With at least one episode on the Goebon (and Breslau) incident, a number on the Dardanelles campaign, espcially if they can focus on Ataturk from the view of a close adjutant.

Not only would it be great drama, but it’s a look at history that would be absolutely alien to most Americans.

They’ve already done John Adams – I’d like to see them do another Founding Father who doesn’t get enough attention, Alexander Hamilton. (Most of his ideas were rejected in his lifetime, but in the long run, America has followed Hamilton’s industrial vision rather than Jefferson’s agrarian one.)

I second this idea! Lots of variety of location and population, a right bounder as Hero, lots of sex…what’s not to like?

Ivan the Terrible would be interesting, but I’d settle for Catherine the Great, if only to see if they mentioned the horse.

I’d second that, but I’d really get totally into one about the civil wars in late twelfth-century Japan, if only to see my research project in movie form.

This one gets my vote. It’s perfect for HBO- history and iconoclasm, war, the world’s most famous duel, kinky sex and even hints of incest. Also a great opportunity to give cameo appearances to some great aging actors as Founders and other notables (starting with grandpa Jonathan Edwards on to Davy Crockett; who would be a great aging film-goddess to play Madame Jumel? I wonder what Kim Novak looks like these days, or if Liz Taylor is ambulatory enough]). Plus, if it’s a hit there’s tons of sequel opportunities (1876, Empire, Hollywood, etc.). Good call.

At one point Robert Altman had the rights but obviously never filmed them, which is probably for the best. Altman could get too “artsy” at times and there’s no way you can tell that story in a 2 hour film.

The European discovery of porcelain

Well, as much fun as the Flashman series are, and satisfying on a purile level not available from Young Indiana Jones, it’s worthwhile to consider actual historical figures who lived larger-than-life lives:

The Crimean War series would be a good springboard for the further adventures Charles Gordon, with his Congo expedition, the Taiping Rebellion, his work with homeless boys (which would shoot down the lingering accusations of pedophilia), and the last stand at Khartoum.

The Russains made a movie recently about Aleksandr Kolchak, arctic explorer and a tragic figure from their Civil War. (Youtube has a nice movie trailer, but I’m at a blocked copmputer now)

Also from the Russian Civli War, one of history’s greteast sons of bitches, Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg who made Mongolia into his own personal torture chamber in 1921.

Less blood & guts but a lot of travel adventure would be the in life of explorer Alexander von Humbolt, who was to geography what Newton was to physics. 150 years before jet airplanes, this guy went more places than a lot of travelers after its invention.

Well if we’re going to have Charles Gordon, why not branch off into Sir Richard Francis Burton?

I think the life of Charles Proteus Steinmetz would be compelling television.

The Hundred Years War might need more than a season or two to tell.

Or, I’d be completely happy with the Anabasis of course! Could be done right in eight or ten episodes.

John Muir

All of them! One Crusade per series.

Akhenaten, the monotheistic ruler of Egypt, husband of Nefertiti, father of Tutenkhamen. He attempted massive religious reform and isolationism; the city he built was destroyed by a plague that was seen as punishment by the gods for his heresy, and after his death his religion was erased. He married and had children with his daughters, and his son and daughter married after his death. His reign was a bizarre period for Egypt and I think an HBO miniseries could do a lot with it.

I believe that only a network with the daring and artistic ingenuity of HBO could give proper service to the epic sweep and majesty of the Coolidge Administration.

Curtis LeMay.

And would provide an excellent comeback vehicle for Dog the Bounty Hunter and his family.

Actually I’ve always thought a great novel and movie could be made of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. They’re those great figures for historical fiction writers in that enough is known of them to give context and historicity, but enough is unknown that you can fill in the blanks with fiction. You could address such things as his still unexplained transexuality [the breasts and female pelvis on some likenesses of him], the disappearance of Nefertiti, and personally I’d go all the way through the death of Tutankhaton/Tutankhamon (who thereagain, much is known and unknown about; by some accounts he’s Akhenaton’s son, by others his grandson, possibly both, possibly neither, just as the dead mummified fetuses in his tomb have several explanations.)
I’d end it with some variation on the following: years after King Tut’s death, when the 18th dynasty has changed and the cult of Aton is a destroyed memory, one of Akhenaten/Nefertiti’s surviving daughters, past the age of childbearing and living in a sort of comfortable house arrest/exile and forbidden to marry, rescues a strange floating object in the Nile. It contains a baby, she gives the child her father’s birth name which means “son of Thoth” [Thoth, the Ibis headed god of writing) which is in Egyptian Thothmosa (but “Mose” for short). She charges him to honor his “grandfather” and the god of writing for whom he is named by writing the truth, that being that there is only one god (and his name ain’t Thoth…)*

*(By tradition dating back at least 2000 years, Moses [who yes, oh nitpickers, I know there’s no proof and much doubt as to whether he even existed or whether there’s the slightest historicity to the Egyptian captivity or the Exodus] flourished during the reign of Ramses II. This means he would have been born about the time the 18th Dynasty (that of Akhenaton) ended, which means that the semi-mythical figure credited with bringing monotheism to Israel was born about the time that history’s first great exercise in monotheism ended, and the Bible says he was rescued by a pharaoh’s daughter but never says which pharaoh… and “mosa” means son of… well anyway, you get the idea.)

I think some of you folks are talking about ideas that would be more appropriate to PBS than HBO. John Adams was a bit too far to the historical/intellectual/educational side of things for an HBO series for me and most other people based on the ratings and commentary it seems. Those series are best with a sprinkling of historical people and events that frame the setting, not at the core of the main characters.

The one that would be the most fun on the top of my mind would be a Marquis de Sade series. There have been plenty of movies and plays about him, but a longer, slower series (perhaps like Rome as opposed to a mini-series) that’s more or less fictionalized, playing up the kinky sex and the politics that surround the time could be a huge hit.

Yeah, I hate to admit it, but… there were several times I found it rather boring, especially during the political discussions when he was VP and in the scenes when Giamatti decided to play limbo with Anthony Hopkins’ voice (“how low in volume… can I go… Clarice…”). Also, I just didn’t think that Giamatti and Linney had enough- or at least not the right- chemistry, or that Abigail came across as being as well educated and intelligent and as much a soul-mate/advisor to him as she was in the book or as in… dare I say it? the musical.

Why haven’t they done Nixon yet? So much material to work with