By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—During the Golden Age of the miniseries—the late 1970s—TV viewers were transported back to the beginnings of America as seen through the eyes of a French-English immigrant in the mesmerizing melodramatic trilogy “The Kent Chronicles,” based on the popular books by John Jakes.
The series featured a star-studded cast depicting Revolutionary War era heroes including William Shatner as Paul Revere, Peter Graves as George Washington, Tom Bosley as Benjamin Franklin and William Daniels as Samuel Adams.
At the center of the story was Phillipe Charboneau, the bastard son of a French actress and a British lord, played by the ridiculously handsome Andrew Stevens (who went on to join the cast of “Dallas”). After he and his ailing mother (played by the late great Oscar winning actress Patricia Neal) emigrate from France to collect on an inheritance from the dying lord, they are turned away by the lord’s wife and son. They reluctantly leave, but not before handsome Phillipe catches the eye and beds his half-brother’s seductive fiancee (Olivia Hussey). With no money and nothing to return to in France, Phillipe and his mother head for the New World, where Phillipe soon gets involved in the brewing struggle for independence. He also meets and marries a beautiful local (a very young Kim Cattrall). And that was just the first series, called “The Bastard.”
The subsequent series, “The Rebels,” finds Phillipe, now known simply as the Americanized Philip Kent, siding with the rebels in the War of Independence. During the conflict, he strikes up a friendship with a dashing and reckless Virginian (“Miami Vice’s” Don Johnson). In the third series, “The Seekers,” the story is completed as Philip’s sons and grandson forge a life on the western frontier and fight in the War of 1812.
Nominated for two Emmys and a Golden Globe, the trilogy aired during the late 1970s. For those who want to relieve the romantic drama or those who simply are too young to remember but curious about what all the hubbub was about, “The Kent Chronicles” has made its North American DVD debut from Acorn Media. The three-disc set, which offers nearly 10 hours of viewing, includes all three miniseries based on the first three of the popular Kent family novels, plus the original two-minute trailer. The DVD set is available for $59.99 at www.AcornOnline.com.