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This Ken Follett miniseries has all the bells and whistles of a major TV event, but never quite makes good on them....
Sony / 389 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: December 4, 2012
There's an old-fashioned element to World Without End that serves it well. In an age where period pieces either teem with sordid sexuality or make up for their dramatic thinness with rampant violence, this Ken Follett adaptation plays like the kind of thing that would have aired as an exclusive event on TBS in the 1990s: not only is it a throwback tale, but its style of storytelling is, in itself, a throwback.
A synopsis of this saga would be worthless, and it would take about two hours to complete. There are queens and kings, swords and fighting, loves and broken allegiances. Cynthia Nixon from Sex and the City shows up as a scheming mother, and even Ben Chaplin has a role as knight who returns broken from war and has to choose how his new life will play out.
Miniseries like this one live and die by their ability to immerse a viewer into an alternate reality, and if you can get through World Without End's first hour and find yourself dying to see more, this 6+ hour adventure might be worth the investment. Yet while the production elements of World Without End are sensational - somebody spent millions on this thing - as a beat-by-beat story, it feels lofty and unexciting. It's nice to find a multi-layered story like this one told in a familiar, slow-paced fashion (way more Thorn Birds than Game of Thrones), but it still doesn't add up.