PBS (Sat., Oct. 3, 9 p.m. ET)
The American miniseries, like the American car, just grew too big—too flashy, too heavy, too extravagant to survive. So, as we did with cars, it’s time we look to smaller, sleeker imported models in miniseries. Heimat is long—16 hours over eight weeks. It is set in a time and place that inspires dramatic excess-Germany before and after World War II. But this miniseries, made in West Germany in 1984, finds its drama in the small, mundane moments in the life of one village, one family and one woman, Maria (beautifully played by the lovely Marita Breuer). The mini follows their stories from the end of World War I to the present. Because Heimat doesn’t promise to dazzle us every hour for a dozen hours with gigantic battles, searing romances and shocking scandals, it does not disappoint. Heimat (which means homeland) only tries to give us captivating characters and stories—and it succeeds magnificently.