NBC’s “Rosemary’s Baby” adaptation came and went with little fanfare and extremely weak ratings. We’ve yet to hear a single comment about it from any of our readers or amongst the DC staff. Having finally watched it myself, I was shocked to find that I kind of loved it…
And I wholeheartedly recommend you seek it out for several reasons, five of which are below. First, however, right off the bat I have to say I’m a big fan of Roman Polanski’s 1968 film version of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby novel, but then again, who isn’t? I think we can all agree it’s iconic.
So one strike against the miniseries just by virtue of the fact that it has the balls to exist in the same universe as the movie.
Second, I despise – and I do mean despise – the 2002 film Queen of the Damned, which was loosely – and I do mean loosely – based on my favorite of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, with a screenplay credited to Scott Abbott and Michael Petroni. When I saw “Rosemary’s Baby” was written by Abbott (albeit along with James Wong, someone whose work I usually enjoy), that was strike two.
While there are a few issues with “Rosemary’s” script (a smattering of awkward lines here and there, it takes too long for Rosemary to get pregnant, frustrating behavior on the part of some of the characters), perhaps it was Mr. Petroni rather than Mr. Abbott who botched QOTD so badly because, all in all, the team of Abbott and Wong delivered a mostly satisfactory and surprisingly horror-friendly and sexy (by network TV standards) interpretation. Thank you once again, “The Walking Dead,” for busting open the gore door. With the big boys like NBC on the bandwagon, it’s never getting shut now!
My mini-review is below; if your curiosity is piqued, you can scroll down to watch it for yourself. You can also check your local cable provider’s VOD listings, and you’ll find an Amazon link at the bottom of the page.
– Reason #1: Jason Isaacs, Jason Isaacs, Jason Isaacs, Jason Isaacs, Jason Isaacs
No, I’m not suggesting Jason Isaacs is the ONLY reason to watch “Rosemary’s Baby,” but he’s certainly the MAIN reason. If you saw any episodes of NBC’s short-lived “Awake,” you already know how versatile and magnetic Isaacs is, and he really shines as the manipulative yet ultra charismatic Roman Castevet. My only complaint is that he could have had a bit more screen time, but he’s returning to TV this fall in USA Network’s six-episode event series “Dig” so at least we have that to look forward to.
– Reason #2: Paris
The lovely City of Light is a character in and of itself in this version of “Rosemary’s Baby,” and while moving it from New York might seem sacrilegious at first, it really was a smart decision because it simultaneously opens up the story for viewers with visits to the Eiffel Tower, Catacombs, and other familiar sights, while also closing in more around poor Rosemary since she’s such a fish out of water, especially in the early going. Kudos to cinematographer Michel Amathieu for his stellar work on those exterior shots plus the tight, claustrophobic interiors so prominent in Part Two when the tension starts ratcheting up.
– Reason #3: Agnieszka Holland
Female directors have become a force to be reckoned with on the small screen, and one of the best in the business right now is Holland, who has earned her stripes on shows like “Treme,” “The Wire,” and “The Killing.” Not to suggest that I have any sort of overall bias and always give directors of my same gender a pass, but I do admit that as a woman, it is nice to see a fellow female at the helm of a film about pregnancy. As for Holland’s approach to her actors, while in Part One I was a little put off by Saldana’s performance, by the second night I felt Holland had helped her find her groove, and things really took off from there. You already know my thoughts on Isaacs, and the other three leads – Patrick J. Adams, Carole Bouquet, and Christina Cole – were all very good throughout so no complaints there.
– Reason #4: NBC’s Embracing of the Horror Genre
Yep, hard as it is to believe, right now NBC is one of the horror crowd’s best friends. They obviously were going after the “Fannibals” with this souped-up version of “Rosemary’s Baby,” and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of the gore gags and overall levels of violence and suspense. Think classic Rosemary’s Baby meets “Hannibal” meets Final Destination (thanks, no doubt, to James Wong). The setups to the deaths of anyone who even slightly might help Rosemary out are a key component of the miniseries’ appeal to us Dread Central types. And really, shouldn’t we reward the proud peacock for renewing “Hannibal” and “Grimm,” realizing what a mess “Dracula” was and quickly putting it out of its misery, and taking a chance on an adaptation of “Constantine” that is looking damn promising? They’re definitely showing up on my DVR a lot more often than they used to!
– Reason #5: It’s Ripe for a Sequel
Other than the 1976 TV-movie “Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby” and Levin’s own Son of Rosemary’s Baby (published in 1997), what transpired following the birth of Rosemary’s baby is still open to interpretation. We wouldn’t mind seeing a Part Three and Four possibly of what happens next. With all the crappy horror flicks Hollywood is churning out, there are worse ways to pass the time than with Steven Marcato and his creepy coven.
Related Story: Visit our “Rosemary’s Baby” Archive
“ROSEMARY’S BABY – PART ONE”
After a personal tragedy leaves Rosemary (Zoe Saldana) and Guy (Patrick J. Adams) Woodhouse anxious for a fresh start, the young married couple depart for Paris, where Guy has landed a job teaching at The Sorbonne. Upon their arrival, a series of unfortunate events occur, and soon Rosemary and Guy are presented with an offer they can’t refuse: an apartment with the most prestigious address in the city. They find comfort in this strange city among their new friends and neighbors, Roman (Jason Isaacs) and Margaux (Carole Bouquet) Castevet, but soon find the apartment comes with a haunted past. This well-to-do, successful older couple take the newcomers under their wings and become very involved with the Woodhouses’ lives. Meanwhile, Rosemary spends some quality time with her dear friend Julie (Christine Cole), learning how to cook at Le Cordon Bleu. Everything seems wonderful as the couple decide to try to conceive a baby.
“ROSEMARY’S BABY – PART TWO”
In this two-hour conclusion, Rosemary’s (Zoe Saldana) health rapidly declines with her pregnancy while Guy’s (Patrick J. Adams) career takes off with the successful completion of his book. At the same time Roman (Jason Isaacs) and Margaux (Carole Bouquet) each take a peculiar and very intimate interest in the young couple. Untimely and gruesome deaths seem prevalent, and we soon learn why. As Rosemary’s due date approaches, the truth about her baby becomes clear, and everyone’s true colors come to light.
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