Are Miniseries Motion Pictures?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Last night, my wife and I finished watching the last part of Mildred Pierce, a 2011 five-part miniseries from HBO starring Kate Winslet.

Jennifer put this one on the Netflix queueueu, and I figured I’d watch it with her because it starred Kate Winslet. Did I mention Kate Winslet is in it? She’s one of a few actors or actresses where I’ll actually watch the movie just because they’re in it. Obviously, the best way to get me to see a movie is if I’ve heard good things about it’s story, but I am often a sucker for a film if I like the director (e.g., Tim Burton) or if I like the studio (e.g., PIXAR) or if it’s won an Oscar for best picture. But, there are a few cases where I am willing to sit through a film because of who stars in it. Or, put another way, there are a few times when I sit down to watch a movie, and the credits begin, and I see so-and-so is in it, and I think, “Hey, so-and-so is in this! That’s great! I love so-and-so.”

Besides Kate, I also like James Cromwell, Helena Bonham Carter, Jodie Foster, Steve Buscemi, Patrick Stewart, Johnny Depp, and probably a few others I can’t think of right now. I’ve seen at least 13 movies in which Kate has either acted or voiced, including, as of last night, Mildred Pierce. And that brings me to my main topic:

Do miniseries count as motion pictures?

See, it’s an important question because I keep a listing of every feature length motion picture I’ve ever seen. My list contains a couple dozen made-for-TV movies, so I’m not trying to slight Mildred Pierce because it was “only” on TV and not on the silver screen.

I scrolled through my list of motion pictures, and the only other miniseries on the list was Roots. By a long shot, this is (was) the longest motion picture on my list. But then I got to thinking: Roots and Mildred Pierce aren’t movies…they’re TV shows. After all, they’re not called “Maxi-movies,” they’re called “Mini-series,” indicating they’re not incredibly long movies, but incredibly short TV series.

[Incidentally: I also once listed Roots in a blog post listing my 50 All-time Favorite Motion Pictures; I guess it shouldn’t be on that list, either.]

“Wait,” you say, “Don’t think of Mildred Pierce as one long movie, think of it as five movies, kind of like Star Wars, only with five instead of six.”

“Nah,” I say, dispensing with the quotation marks from here on out, it seems each part is an episode, just as HBO used to have a series called The Sopranos, and each of those parts was an episode. If I include each part of  Mildred Pierce, then I should include every episode of every TV show I’ve ever seen. Which would be both impossible and embarrassing.

So, today, I made a thoughtful decision and, instead of adding Mildred Pierce to the list of motion pictures I’ve seen, I deleted Roots, bringing my total number of films down (wow, that’s the first time the total’s gone down) to 1,322.

Anyway…Mildred Pierce. I’m gonna go ahead and say skip it. Unless you really like Kate Winslet. Did I mention Kate Winslet is in it?

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