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Feb. 24, 1981: Young persons…. There was once a sensationally popular TV miniseries called “Shogun,” based on James Clavell’s novel set in feudal Japan, that aired in September 1980 and starred Richard Chamberlain, the former heartthrob of the 1960s TV series “Dr. Kildare.”
The story of John Blackthorne and Lord Toranaga (Toshiro Mifune) quickly became a touchstone of popular culture. In writing about “Shogun,” Times TV critic Cecil Smith reported that "Nielsen numbers show that more than half the people in the country are caught up in it."
Several months later, Times writer Roderick Mann catches up with Chamberlain, who says he’s interested in another miniseries: “The Thorn Birds.”