Six of the best ... TV melodramas

Spoof mini-series The Spoils of Babylon is coming soon, so what finer time to tip our hats to the epic, emotional heavyweight classics of the genre from the 70s and 80s?

This Saturday sees the start of star-studded parody The Spoils of Babylon on Fox, in which Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins and Tobey Maguire take aim at the epic (and epically cheesy) American mini-series of the late 70s and early 80s. In preparation, here's our guide to six of the best original shows. (Note: yes, Roots is a 70s mini-series, but it's also a serious drama and too good for inclusion here.)

Rich Man, Poor Man (1976)

The daddy of them all. This adaptation of Irwin Shaw's bestseller told the tale of two opposite (and opposed) brothers, good boy Rudy (Peter Strauss) and bad boy Tom (a show-stopping Nick Nolte). There had been other mini-series before Rich Man,
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