The 1979 Classic Centennial on DVD

Rick Forchuk tells you where to find this 1979 classic


Centennial was one of the most audacious television pojects in history

Where can I find the epic TV series Centennial?

I vaguely remember a movie that I saw as a child that was an epic on the opening of the West starring Robert Conrad as a French Canadian.  I can’t remember the name of the film, but it seems to me I saw it on television in the ‘70s, so it must have been made earlier than that. Can you help me find it? – J. N., via e-mail

The chances are good that you are remembering Centennial, based on the epic James Michener novel of the same name. It was the story of the founding, development, and future of the town that would become Centennial, Colorado, and spanned almost two centuries, from the late 1700s to the 1970s. 

Although it was actually a TV miniseries over 12 nights and 26 ½ hours in 1979, it really is an epic movie, and arguably the best ever done on the settling of the western United States. 

The multi-generational tale begins with an Arapaho Indian named Lame Beaver (Michael Ansara) who encounters a French Canadian trapper named Pasquinel (Robert Conrad) in the dark of night in what looks like might be a battle to the death. In an act of trust and faith, Pasquinel puts his knife down, and the two become friends. 

From these humble beginnings we see the settlement begin piece by piece. A Scot named Alexander McKeag (Richard Chamberlain) soon appears, and an incredible cast follows including Richard Crenna, Raymond Burr, Lynn Redgrave and Robert Vaughn. 

If you choose to buy the DVD set, watch the crowd scene in the Raymond Burr episode and see if you can pick out an 18 year-old extra named George Clooney in a crowd scene. The budget for Centennial was $26 million, an unheard of sum for a TV project (today’s equivalent is $84 million). The DVD became available in 2008 and can be ordered from most retailers, or online at