Back in 1981
After the colossal success of Shogun
on television in the United States
and around the world, and the
superb performances of
Toshirô Mifune and Yôko Shimada
in the series, it was logically expected
that these nominated actors would
be granted an Emmy award.
These expectations were so deeply frustrated that the new program
Entertainment Tonight in its first show carried, as the lead story, the news
about Richard Chamberlain not
receiving an Emmy for Shogun.
Richard Chamberlain thus became
the first celebrity to be interviewed
on the show. The actor was quite philosophical about it all.
1980 'Shogun' is one mini-series that retains maximum impact
The TV landscape in the late 1970s and early 1980s
was dominated by mini-series - unwieldy, grand,
and often grandiose affairs that sacrificed story and character for spectacle. To modern viewers, these shows feel dated, hokey.
There are notable exceptions: Roots (1977) is still essential viewing. As is Shogun, a lavish, fiercely paced, five-part drama based on the James Clavell novel that aired on NBC in 1980. The 547-minute epic has been digitally restored and released by Paramount in the five-disc set James Clavell's Shogun.
Shot on location in Japan and set in the opening years of the 17th century, Shogun features Richard Chamberlain as an English sailor caught up in a bloody civil war waged by various feudal lords or daimyo all vying to win control of the nation.
Toshirô Mifune turns in a terrific performance as Lord Toranaga, a character loosely based on Ieyasu Tokugawa, the man who eventually unified the nation and founded a dynasty that lasted for almost three centuries. Shogun is an exciting adventure filled with compelling characters - and it provides an unromanticized look at feudal Japan.
© 2011 Tirdad Derakhshani, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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