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''The Thorn Birds'' is one of 10 best miniseries on DVD

(1983)

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Thorn Birds: Kobal Collection

”The Thorn Birds” is one of 10 best miniseries on DVD

CAST OF THOUSANDS Richard Chamberlain, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Simmons, Bryan Brown, Christopher Plummer, Richard Kiley, Ken Howard, Piper Laurie, Mare Winningham, Philip Anglim

BREAKOUT STAR Rachel Ward (pictured, with Chamberlain), as the tempestuous Meggie, who harbors a lifelong crush on Father Ralph (Chamberlain)

MINI-SUMMARY In this adaptation of Colleen McCullogh’s best-selling novel, the life of Chamberlain’s ambitious priest intertwines with the lives of four generations of women on a prosperous Australian sheep ranch.

HIGHLIGHTS Aged Mary Carson (Stanwyck) makes a pass at Father Ralph; the extinguishing of a fire that consumes much of the ranch proves just a prelude to further tragedy; Father Ralph briefly abandons his vows for Meggie.

IMPACT Surely the best romantic miniseries of all time, The Thorn Birds even set off sparks between small-screen couple Ward and Brown, who soon married in real life.

FOLLOW-UP Chamberlain returned to fill in some plot gaps in 1996’s The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years.

EW GRADE A-