In 1984, I became familiar with the concept of the television miniseries – longer than a movie, but shorter than an ongoing series. At the time, miniseries were normally three night events, lasting about six hours in total. The first one I remember watching from that year was George Washington. I was 9-years-old, and it made a lasting impression.
George Washington is a historical drama about the major general and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, who later went on to serve as president.
I became quite the George Washington fan after seeing the miniseries, which starred Barry Bostwick (George Washington) and Patty Duke Astin (Martha Washington). Not only was Washington an inspiring figure, he was also a fellow Virginian.
On school fields trips, therefore, I was able to visit his birthplace, Wakefield, and his primary home, Mount Vernon. Inside the state capitol building here in Richmond, I was also able to see a magnificent, life-sized statue of him by Jean-Antoine Houdon.
Another place I visited back then was Yorktown, where Washington won a key battle against the British that became the major turning point of the war.
I was reminded of all of this a few weeks ago when my wife and I took a day trip that included a Yorktown visit. Since then, I have been reading Washington: The Indispensable Man, a one-volume biography by James Thomas Flexner. Flexner’s Washington biographies, including a massive four-volume set, inspired the 1984 mini-series.
A couple of years after the first miniseries, there was actually a sequel miniseries, George Washington II: The Forging Of A Nation. I remember being quite excited about it coming on and then hating it once it did. Centered around his presidency, the sequel had an entirely different tone. I wonder how I will feel about the book when I reach that portion.
There has unfortunately never been an official DVD or Blu-ray release of George Washington. Though there are some unofficial DVDs floating around for sale out there, likely sourced from a VHS edition, I am holding out for the real thing some day. Until then, I am enjoying the Flexner biography, which brings back memories of this excellent miniseries.