The Pitch: A 40 million dollar attempt by Starz to send a very strong message to HBO that reads a little something like this, “Watch your back!”
The Plot: Set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart, THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH (Based on Ken Follett’s international best seller of the same name) is a sweeping epic of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty where human dramas and love stories entwine.
The Snap Judgment: Assuming one can get past the somewhat tedious initial half hour which haphazardly attempts to introduce an entire slew of characters with somewhat discernible accents, motivations and features (made all the more confusing thanks to the apparent lack of lighting in 12th Century England) viewers will quickly find themselves hooked on this epic miniseries. Suffice to say, this eight-hour co-production airing on both Starz and TMN in Canada has it all. So much so that when we weren’t revelling in the not-quite-SPARTACUS-levels of sex, violence and nudity, we found ourselves cheering for a desperate group of working class heroes including a master builder (Rufus Sewell), a monk (Matthew MacFadyen) an exiled Queen (Alison Pil) as they attempt to outwit, outlast, outplay (not to mention outbuild) the villainous Bishop (played to absolute perfection by who else… Ian McShane) and the incestuous Regan Hamleigh (Sarah Parish). Add to that a mysterious stepson (Eddie Redmayne) who more than likely harbours a dangerous secret, a vengeful daughter (Hayley Atwell) who not surprisingly finds herself the object of more than one suitors affection and a body count that rivals that of THE PACIFIC and we’re left with…
The Verdict: Which has us as surprised as anyone to wholeheartedly endorse an eight hour miniseries that basically boils down to whether or not a Church will get built!
THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH premieres Friday July 23 at 9PM on both Starz and TMN in Canada