This ambitious effort, based on the James Michener novel of the same name, attempts to cover the history of the state of Colorado, from the days of the Native Americans to the political/environmental dealings of modern times. Clocking in at 24 hours, it's probably safe to say that rarely has so much effort been put into the television medium. Unfortunately, "Centennial" would have been better served to cut it's running time in half.
The first five episodes of "Centennial," dealing with the settling of the American frontier and the eventual clash between pioneers and Native Americans, are some of the finest hours ever produced for television. This 1978 miniseries provides an early sympathetic view of the Native American, from the appealing chief Lame Beaver, played convincingly by Michael Ansara, to his daughter Clay Basket sympathetically played by Barbara Carrera. Throw into this mix the stormy relationship of trappers Pasquinel (Robert Conrad) and McKeag (Richard Chamberlain), and you have great drama on the untamed frontier. Their lives, and the rustic, changing world in which they live, makes for terrific historical fireworks.
Of course, Conrad's performance as Pasquinel, a colorful and memorable character if ever there was one, is one of the finest of his erratic career. As soon as his character leaves the film, there is an emptiness to the drama which is never quite replaced. And this emptiness damages the overall memory of this western epic.
Episode five, which details the disturbing true-life incident of the Sand Creek Massacre, in which hundreds of Native Americans were brutally murdered, is probably the last hurrah of "Centennial.Read more ›