Paul L. Smith
Masada is an American television miniseries that aired on ABC in April 1981. Advertised by the network as an “ABC Novel for Television,” it was a fictionalized account of the historical siege of the Masada citadel in Israel by legions of the Roman Empire in AD 73. The TV series’ script is based on the novel The Antagonists by Ernest Gann. The siege ended when the Roman armies were able to enter the fortress, only to discover the mass suicide by the Jewish defenders when defeat became imminent.
Masada was one of several historical miniseries produced in the early 1980s following the success of NBC’s Shogun in 1980.
The miniseries starred Peter O’Toole as Roman legion commander Lucius Flavius Silva, Peter Strauss as the Jewish commander Elazar ben Ya’ir, and Barbara Carrera as Silva’s Jewish mistress. David Warner, as Pomponius Falco, won an Emmy Award for his role. O’Toole was nominated for an Emmy for his performance. It was his first appearance in an American miniseries. Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens composed the series’ score. Goldsmith received an Emmy for his contribution.
Masada was filmed on location at the site of the ancient fortress, in the Judean Desert, Israel. Remains of a ramp, created during the filming to simulate the ramp built by the Romans to take the fortress, can still be seen at the site.
The tyrant Gedren seeks the total power in a world of barbarism. She raids the city Hablac and kills the keeper of a talisman that gives her great power. Red Sonja, sister of the keeper, sets out with her magic sword to overthrow Gedren.
Maverick is a gambler who would rather con someone than fight them. He needs an additional three thousand dollars in order to enter a Winner Take All poker game that begins in a few days. He tries to win some, tries to collect a few debts, and recover a little loot for the reward. He joins forces with a woman gambler with a marvelous southern accent as the two both try and enter the game.
J.W. Garrison, the head of a top-secret sub agency of the United Nations, discovers that a team of terrorists, led by the murderous Oliver Maxwell, plan on producing a bomb carrying an anthrax virus to be used in the United States. Garrison summons CIA agent Zack Hamilton who puts together a team of three beautiful women; CIA trainer Kim Taylor; photographer Victoria Carrera; and actress Eva Kirov to go to undercover as fashion models to infiltrate the terrorist organization to find the bomb before it can be used.
Larry Abbot, speaker in the radio horror shows of Manhattan Mystery Theater wants to marry. For the marriage he takes his fiancée home to the castle where he grew up among his eccentric relatives. His uncle decides that he needs to be cured from a neurotic speech defect and exaggerated bursts of fear: he gives him a shock therapy with palace ghosts.
Popeye is a super-strong, spinach-scarfing sailor man who’s searching for his father. During a storm that wrecks his ship, Popeye washes ashore and winds up rooming at the Oyl household, where he meets Olive. Before he can win her heart, he must first contend with Olive’s fiancé, Bluto.
Billy Hayes is caught attempting to smuggle drugs out of Turkey. The Turkish courts decide to make an example of him, sentencing him to more than 30 years in prison. Hayes has two opportunities for release: the appeals made by his lawyer, his family, and the American government, or the “Midnight Express”.
In preparation for his daughter’s wedding, dentist Sheldon Kornpett meets Vince Ricardo, the groom’s father. Vince, a manic fellow who claims to be a government agent, then proceeds to drag Sheldon into a series of chases and misadventures from New York to Central America.