10 April 2006 | Skragg
One of the best "family saga" miniseries.
I really can't say enough about it here, because I've been hugely attached to it since it came out. There are several reasons to watch it - along with the "historical romance" reasons, there are the political ideas (which are that much bigger in the novel, but a very big part of this TV version). Whether it's borderline "conspiracy" thinking (with "those men" who influence everything) or not, those ideas have influenced plenty of my political thinking. (Partly because of this story, I always think the phrase "opportune little war" when I hear about ANY given war- and quite some time BEFORE the past three years.) Richard Jordan was just great as Joseph, an Irish character who hardly fits any of the images of Irishmen (even the positive ones), who's almost completely "cool", and whose emotions don't come out (in a big way) except in certain dramatic scenes, like the scenes with Catherine or Tom (for opposite reasons). There isn't enough room to mention all the best actors and characters, or scenes, but there's Perry King as Rory Armagh, Patty Duke Astin as Bernadette (I think someone here mentioned how great she was as a tragic character, and she won an Emmy for it, very deservedly), Jane Seymour as Margery, Cliff DeYoung as Brian Armagh, the aviator-film-maker etc., with his star Pearl Gray (Pearl White), Vic Morrow, who was extremely good as Tom Hennesey (and whom you really feel sorry for in that last scene with him, in spite of everything he's done), Beverly D'Angelo as Miss Emmy, Charles Durning as Big Ed Healy (I don't know if he's ever played a more entertaining character), and Harvey Jason as Harry Zeff. As far as I know, he's mainly a supporting actor in comedies, and you see that in his "sidekick" kind of relationship with Joseph, but of course with other levels to it - the scene where Joseph accuses Harry of being disloyal to him, which is the one kind of talk Harry can't stand to hear from him, and the scene where Joseph turns his back on blackmailing the senator, and Harry is glad for all three of them (not knowing what's coming next). And of course, the big guest stars, like John Houseman as Mr. Chisholm and Henry Fonda as Senator Bassett (two of the best scenes). Again, I could go on and on, but it's simply a very underrated story, as far as I know (in spite of the Emmy). Though to me, underrated is putting it pretty mildly.