These days, the mini-series doesn’t get much respect. Apart from the Tom Hanks–produced HBO behemoths, the genre’s output consists mainly of the occasional uninspired literary adaptation. But then the Sundance Channel’s The Best of Youth comes along to remind us that the mini-series can be the most dynamic, dramatic, and satisfying entertainment that TV has to offer (airing nightly, 12/25–12/28).
Originally produced for Italian state television, The Best of Youth premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and had a very limited theatrical release in the U.S. in 2005. The series follows four tumultuous decades in the lives of the fictional Caratis family, packing everything into six hours that an addictive mini-series should: family conflict, historical sweep, consuming love, heartbreaking loss, communist plotting, and mental instability. Plus, disarmingly attractive actors who inhabit characters you ache for.
Like a favorite Russian novel, The Best of Youth stays with you. It is about as good as TV gets.
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