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Centennial

By Tom Keogh

A remarkably ambitious and engrossing project, this 1978 television miniseries ran 26-and-a-half hours, cost a then-enormous $25 million, and involved 4 directors, 5 cinematographers, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 speaking parts.

Based on James Michener's panoramic bestseller about the settling of the American West--as reflected in the history of a fictional town called Centennial, Colorado--the story begins in the late 18th century and ends with a typical 20th century conflict over land usage. Centennial, however, largely concentrates on various memorable frontiersmen, trappers, Indians, ranchers, cowboys, and farmers from long ago.

Richard Chamberlain shines as the pioneer Alexander McKeag, Robert Conrad does some of his best work as French-Canadian Pasquinel, and performances by Alex Karras, Chad Everett, Sally Kellerman, Raymond Burr, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, and Dennis Weaver effectively add to a tapestry of adventure, tragedy, violence, and dubious Western progress.

Produced at a time when TV networks were in the throes of acknowledging America's history of racial injustice (see especially Roots), the program paints a starkly villainous portrait of opportunists exploiting and destroying Indians in the name of manifest destiny. While the project's great length might make one wary of diving in, Centennial is the sort of carefully paced drama that makes one care about the intertwined destinies of unique characters and how they illuminate America's past.

 

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Check out our Centennial forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Centennial viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

Am I the only person in the world who watched this magnificent series why was it never released on DVD????????

--TERRY

Note: This is just a random sample of the Centennial messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1978-1980

Cast: Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, Raymond Burr, Timothy Dalton, Chad Everett, Sharon Gless, Andy Griffith, Merle Haggard, David Janssen, Alex Karras, Lynn Redgrave

Network: NBC

Genre: Miniseries (Historical Drama)

Theme song

Image courtesy of NBC


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Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Service.
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