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A miniseries tells a complete, self-contained story in several separate episodes. In contrast to other television series , it is already designed as a whole and the episodes are usually also shot together.


The word miniseries is derived from the American term miniseries (also: mini-series ) and stands for a multi-part television film (also: TV multi-part ). In German, the expression is increasingly displacing the older, actually more precise expressions two-parter , three-parter , etc.

From the start of production, multi-part series ( double shooting ) are planned as multi-part stories (there are, however, cases like the Hannibal Lecter films that only take on a multi-part structure afterwards). Most of them break down a comprehensive story into self-contained sub-stories. But even the term multi-part , which islargely synonymouswith the term miniseries , is hardly used anymore.

A miniseries is different from an ongoing television series , which usually does not have a predetermined number of episodes and can be continued in several seasons for several years.

The fact that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association revised the Golden Globes rules in 2014 helped to clarify this . a. affect the awards for television series and mini-series. The biggest change concerns the category "mini series" - now called "limited series". This is now defined on the basis of story and content, not length or number of episodes. Any production whose characters and storyline are limited to one season is considered a miniseries. The HBO series True Detective would then be a limited series, not a drama series (nor the classification at the Emmy Award 2014). In other words, it doesn't matter if a show runs eight, 13, or 22 episodes. The content is decisive when it comes to the HFPA. So you can understand the second season of American Horror Story and Fargo without knowing the first - a sure sign that they are mini-series ("limited series").

The same applies to the rules of the Emmy Awards: In 2015, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (American television academy ) held a debate about the demarcation of drama, series and miniseries and also renamed the miniseries category to limited series and marked it This makes the difference between series and miniseries clearer: a miniseries ( limited series ) is defined as the production of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes, which tells a complete, non-repeating story and the plot of which does not extend over several Seasons and / or uses the same main characters in further seasons.


United States

The term miniseries emerged in the United States in the 1960s at the latest in connection with the television documentary The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich , which was broadcast by the ABC broadcaster and which was advertised as miniseries . This term became more popular through the production Rich Man, Poor Man (ABC, 1976, 720 min.), German rich and poor . The 8-part television series Roots (1977, 720 min.) Is considered to be the most successful multi-part television series from the first few years of the history of the miniseries .

From around 2000 onwards, there was a boom in mini-series that continues to this day. Some examples (without claim to completeness): The Corner (2000, 376 min.), Band of Brothers - We were like brothers (2001, 603 min.), Traffic - Power of the cartel (2004, 260 min.), Die Schattenmacht - The State Within (2006, 258 min.), John Adams - Freedom for America (2008, 482 min.), The Pacific (2010, 600 min.), The Kennedys (2011, 360 min.), Mildred Pierce (2011 , 336 min.), Parade's End - The Last Gentleman (2012, 300 min.), Top of the Lake (2013, 350 min.), My name is Fleming. Ian Fleming (2013, 180 min.), Olive Kitteridge (2014, 230 min.), True Detective (2014 and 2015, 480 min. Each), Fargo (2014 and 2015, 540 min. Each).


Extremely successful miniseries (before the term existed) were in Germany in the 1960s TV crime productions in black and white such as the then " street sweeper " Das Halstuch (1962), a six-part series after Francis Durbridge , or the three-part series The Gentlemen ask for cash ( 1966) about the great British mail train robbery . Later on, there were four-part adventure programs on ZDF that were often broadcast during Advent or Christmas, such as Treasure Island , Michael Strogoff or The Sea Wolf .

Also international success was Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (ARD, 1985, 309 min.), Wedel's miniseries The Great Bellheim , The Shadow Man u. a., Die Manns (Bavaria / WDR / NDR / ARTE, 2001, 312 min.) and Our Mothers, Our Fathers (ZDF, 2013, 270 min.), honored with the Emmy Award 2014.

See also


  • Knut Hickethier : Series. In: Hans-Otto Hügel (Ed.): Handbuch Popular Kultur. Terms, theories and discussions. Metzler, Stuttgart et al. 2003, ISBN 3-476-01759-1 , pp. 397-403.
  • Tony Main Line: Hollywood's Stephen King. Palgrave Macmillan, New York NY et al. 2003, ISBN 0-312-29320-8 , pp. 173-217, (About the miniseries Salem's Lot, It, The Stand, The Shining, Storm of the Century and Rose Red).
  • Barbara Selznick: World-class budgets and big-name casts: the miniseries and international coproductions. In: Greg Elmer, Mike Gasher (eds.): Contracting out Hollywood. Runaway productions and foreign location shooting. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham MD 2005, ISBN 0-7425-3695-5 , pp. 157-175.
  • Steven D. Stark: Glued to the set. The 60 television shows and events that made us who we are today. Free Press, New York NY et al. 1997, ISBN 0-684-82817-0 , pp. 199-202, (Via Roots).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Film lexicon, entry miniseries . University of Kiel, accessed on January 30, 2016 .
  2. ^ Golden Globes Revise Rules on Miniseries. Variety, accessed February 7, 2016 .
  3. ^ New Emmy Rules., accessed February 7, 2016 .