New Pillar for SoHo in June

With a raft of top HD shows having started this month or due next, June is relatively quiet for notable premieres on SoHo other than the long awaited debut of The Pillars of the Earth.

It will play in the Game of Thrones slot, 8.30pm Mondays, from June 18 but, like Magic City, can be previewed online and on-demand in the preceding week.

Alternatively, you can buy it on disc a month ahead of its broadcast: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is belatedly rolling it out on DVD (but not Blu-ray) from May 16.

Released 18 months ago on Blu-ray in the US, the 2010 mini-series was commissioned by Starz (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Boss) and is an eight-hour adaptation of the Ken Follett best-seller.

The $US40 million production is set in 12th century England and is billed as “a tale about love, war and religious strife during the building of the Kingsbridge Cathedral”.

With a cast that includes Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew McFadyen and Hayley Attwell, it was compared to “event” mini-series from the era’s heyday, like The Winds of War and Shogun.

TV Guide said it represented “the best and worst of this long-neglected form of epic storytelling”, Variety reckoned the “whole exercise would be worth the price of admission (or rather, subscription) simply for the cobra-eyed McShane” and the New York Times predicted it will “go down painlessly for the fan of this sort of epic; while it’s predictable and never exactly sweeping, it’s certainly eventful, and the production values are above average.”

But the Chicago Tribune thought it “downright cartoonish” and The Washington Post “overwrought and wearying, salvaged mainly by its occasional gory details and a few enjoyably hammy performances.”

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