- The Pillars of the Earth
- Starz, Fridays, 10 p.m.
Following the success of the lurid Spartacus: Blood and Sand, premium-cable network Starz is clearly high on period epics. The channel’s latest original production: this eight-part miniseries based on Ken Follett’s popular 1989 novel. The nearly thousand-page book is adapted into a plodding, dreary, interminable saga, set during the 12th-century period in English history when a dispute over succession led two monarchs to compete for rights to the crown. The series follows both the tedious court intrigue and the plights of ordinary citizens who get caught up in the madness. Although the cast has a few bright spots (Ian McShane, Alison Pill, Hayley Atwell), the direction and writing are dull and workmanlike, and the pace is lugubrious. Spartacus at least has copious blood and nudity and a faint sense of its own absurdity; Pillars is just a dry history lesson with better production values.