The miniseries is a vehicle used by the television industry to tell a powerful story over several nights. They became quite popular in the late 1970s and they remained a staple on American television until the late 1980s when networks started to pass on them and let cable networks produce and air them. Miniseries are often attempts to capture the history of major events and they are usually very expensive to produce and feature memorable images. You may have missed or forgotten some of the top miniseries of all time, and the five on this list are among the best.

"Roots" (1977)

This was the first of the major American miniseries and it appeared on ABC. It was the most watched miniseries in history and it was author Alex Haley's account of his family history. Haley's ancestors had been kidnapped from Africa and were forced into slavery after surviving a horrendous trip to America. Despite the miserable conditions that Kunta Kinte and his offspring were forced to abide, the family ultimately survived and this story educated many to the realities of slavery, prejudice and inequality that African Americans have been forced to endure.

 "Band of Brothers" (2001)

This HBO classic was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and it was a real-life World War II story of Easy Company. The miniseries starts with D-Day and goes through the end of the war in Europe. The overall presentation is eye-opening and emotional. The action sequences in battle are equal to or better any that have ever appeared on film.

 "North and South" (1985)

This ABC miniseries is the story of a southern man who leaves his ancestral home and travels north in 1842 to go to West Point Academy. On the way, he meets and helps out the woman who would eventually become the love of his life. He also meets a man from Pennsylvania who would eventually become his best friend. The series is about the many twists and turns they must endure.

"Jesus of Nazareth" (1977)

One of the most dramatic miniseries of all-time, this Italian-American joint production attempts to tell a full and complete story on the life of Christ. Robert Powell starred as Jesus and critics overwhelmingly applauded his performance in terms of humanity and credibility. The cast included notable performances by Peter Ustinov, James Earl Jones, Stacy Keach, Anthony Quinn, and Christopher Plummer. Michael York's performance as John the Baptist is considered to be one of the best of this outstanding miniseries.

"Lonesome Dove" (1989)

This is the story of two former Texas Rangers who lead a cattle drive from Lonesome Dove, Texas to Montana. Gus McRae (Robert Duvall) and Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) seem quite content living in Lonesome Dove, but when they learn of the incredible opportunities available if they become ranchers in big sky country. The trip is fraught with danger and adventure.