Rosemary's Baby Miniseries Review: The Longest Pregnancy Ever

Rosemary's Baby Part 1 & Part 2


Ed note: In order to provide a more complete look at NBC's miniseries remake of Rosemary's Baby—which airs for two hours this Sunday, May 11 and then another two hours on Thursday, May 15—we've decided to review it in a more "traditional" manner, i.e. covering all four hours at once before its premiere. Think of this as part preview, part review, with some light spoilers (for a project based on a 45-year-old movie and a 46-year-old book). 

There are two things you need to know right up front: 

One, I haven't read Ira Levin's original Rosemary's Baby novel or seen the 1968 film adaptation, so I didn't have any direct comparisons in mind. Yet all three follow the same basic story: Young couple Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into a swanky abode that seems too good to be true and quickly becomes so. As Guy begins to succeed in his career (he's a struggling actor in the book and the film, a novelist in NBC's update), Rosemary grows more isolated and uncomfortable—especially once she discovers that she's pregnant. 

And two, NBC's update of the story is the kind of production where the lead character types "SATAN WITCHES" into Google in what is intended to be a dramatic and intense moment. But, hey, at least the producers made sure to display the real Google. 

And while that moment is particularly silly, it's certainly not the only silly moment in Rosemary's Baby. At times, it seems like the miniseries absolutely knows it can't compete with the slow-building dread of the classic film, and so instead, it goes for half-assed winking about the nuttiness of everything that's happening to Zoe Saldana's titular character (the mother, not the baby—though that would be fascinating), or about the nuttiness of some of the randos who make the mistake of feigning interest in Rosemary's life. But then at other times—especially in the second installment, when Rosemary's condition begins to worsen and her paranoia is confirmed—we're clearly supposed to recognize the ugliness and pain of it all. Unfortunately, since so many of the creepy or weird moments come off as poorly executed or simply cheesy, it's kind of hard to invest in the occasional element that plays it straight or actually works well enough. 


What works here are a few of the performances. I have absolutely no idea why Saldana chose to do this project—maybe she wanted to hang out in Paris (where the mini was filmed), or maybe she's just a diehard Suits fan and wanted to spend some quality time with Patrick J. Adams, who plays Guy—but she's definitely game for whatever the script asks of her, and then some. Indeed, she's so into the role that it's almost like she's singlehandedly trying to elevate the material and the entire project to meet her efforts. Those attempts don't really work, and the physical transformation that the part requires is a little difficult to pull off because she's such a small woman to begin with. But still, Saldana succeeds in embodying Rosemary's simmering confusion and paranoia, and doesn't turn it up so much during the character's more hysterical moments that the scenes become unintentionally funny. 

It's also a true bummer that Jason Isaacs is cashing NBC checks for something like this instead of for something like Awake, but the dude brings some of that Lucius Malfoy game to his work here: His Roman Castevet is a bit hammy, but he's also calm and constantly present despite the goofy script. His partner in crime and his on-screen wife, Carole Bouquet's Castevet, is similarly entertaining. Despite my lack of familiarity with the original Rosemary's Baby film, research tells me that the expanded runtime of the NBC miniseries gives the Castevets more time to sink their hooks into Rosemary and Guy, especially in the first hour. The early scenes are certainly some of the more boring, table-setting moments you'll see on TV during May sweeps, but Isaacs and Bouquet do provide the small amount of energy that's present within them.


Oh, and Adams has stubble in this! That's probably the best thing I can say about his performance. He's not offensive, but the character isn't really there on the page to fill the screen time the miniseries affords him. Though it's pretty clear from the start that Guy is involved in whatever the hell is going on, Rosemary's Baby doesn't fully commit to his conflicting feelings with regard to that involvement. His strife occasionally surfaces, and Adams is good in a pivotal moment at the end of Part 1, but Guy's douchery is out in full force early and often. 

The disappointing thing about Rosemary's Baby is that the project appears to do absolutely nothing with its extra running time. Without commercials, these two parts run about three hours, or roughly 40 minutes longer than the film. And yet, there's very little here that's additive. The plot descriptions for the film and the miniseries are almost identical, barring the location change from New York City to Paris. And instead of using that additional time to further sketch out characters like Guy or to create a real connection between Guy and Rosemary, there's just a whole lot of random stuff going on: a weird number of scenes in a cooking class, a police investigation that unveils the history of the building, etc. The intent is to illustrate how Rosemary and Guy each succumb to the Castevets in their own ways over some extended period of time, but there are far too many aimless or dull scenes to actually produce that effect. 


On an individual performer level, nobody comes out of NBC's Rosemary's Baby looking all that different than they did going in. The performances are all fine, even as the two leads are hampered by a weak script and a lack of chemistry between the two of them. Director Agnieszka Holland has managed a few nice wide location shots, and provided the occasional inspired angle or lighting choice. Nevertheless, I don't really know what NBC planned to accomplish with this miniseries. If all the network intended to do was simply remake a nearly 50-year-old movie for younger audiences with a Peter Jackson-style extended edit, fine; mission accomplished. But with this version of Rosemary's Baby, you really feel the nine months of the pregnancy. This thing is far too bloated, and far too boring, to be worth watching, especially during this busy time of the TV season. 


Comments (82)
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Finally watched this and I prefer the original. I agree that not much was done with the extra 30min or so apart from more deaths. Part 1 was slow not really covering much ground and part 2 was a bit rushed. Having seen this new version I only wonder which one is closer to the book as I have'nt read it.
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Cory, you begin your review by telling us that you did not read the novel or see the first film and proceed to disparage the remake of the first adaptation, mock the actors and suggest that to even make the film was a waste of time. To be fair, if you really want to be creditable, you need to have watched both films.
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not into horror just silly only watched this for my girl zoe and still have to watch part two in a little bit but decided to do some research on the film to see the differences and there is a couple of points that are just so stupid to me and this why i dont watch horror movies. so in the film the guy makes a deal with the witches for their baby to make him successful, makes sense. in the mini they just target rosemary makes no sense. if they are so powerful they can make people pregnant why not just capture a bunch of homeless women and make them pregnant? why target this american person who hey might not even be around for all 9 months y'know? better yet why not just magic away from some babies from the hospital instead of waiting 9 months. that is too long to wait for one spell. stupid stupid boring. and why oh why do christians keep throwing their religious crap into ours? WE DONT BELIEVE IN ANYTHING YOU DO SO NO WE DONT WORSHIP SATAN HE DOESNT EXIST TO US. there are numberous gods who grant wishes/blessings with human sacrifices a google search would give you some names if you dont know which you obviously dont nbc sigh. boring again and just plain lazy. it works for ignorant 1960s doesnt for "enlightened" 2014
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I was a big fan of the original movie and I really like Patrick J Adams and Zoe Saldana. But something just seemed off in this miniseries I think it's because they were trying to make a two hour movie into a four hour miniseries and there was a lot of filler. I wonder what the ratings will be for the first night.
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Why do they keep giving reviewers adaptations who are totally unfamiliar with the sources? and what's more, would it kill them to read/watch the sources to prepare for reviews BASED on things? this is as bad as the guy doing the reviews for Under the Dome whose proud to say he's never read it, then talks about how stupid some things are that will be explained later.
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I have to agree on this one, it's not a bad review but would have been better if he checked the other adaptations. It don't see it as elitism but more getting familiar with the sources is never a bad thing.
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Yeah considering it's streaming on Netflix and a book can be checked out i really don't see it as any sort of elitism to familiarize yourself with the sources if you're going to write reviews of an adaption. if I was charged with writing a review of something and there were multiple sources to investigate I'd consider it part of the job.
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Yes good point take for example hannibal I was wrong about that before before I thought no one will ever play Lecter other than Hopkins but Mads breathe a new life to it. He added another dimension to the character, it's brilliant. I can say that because I've read all the books and watched all the movies so basically I kinda know what I'm taking about. There are reasons why these materials get rebooted is because it has element(s) that works and checking other source material makes the viewer understand the character motives better. I reiterate wouldn't hurt to research specially if the research materials are readily available.
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I'm not sure I agree with that last. A review that's free from comparison to the original can be refreshing. I want a review of the miniseries: did it work, what went well, what didn't, etc. Comparison to another version can cloud and corrupt that.
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If you don't like this review, quit bitching and go find one you do like.

Quite a few people who watch this miniseries will never have read the book or seen the original. A reviewer who can relate is not a bad thing. Elitism, on the other hand, which sneers at many of the viewers as well as the reviewer, is. Lose your superiority. Just because the review isn't for you doesn't mean it's worthless to all.
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And if you don't like my comment, quiyt bitching and go find one you do like.

Wow you're right! being an asshole is fun!
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As with TatraFan, I'm dismayed you have not read the novel or, more importantly, seen the original Roman Polanski film. That wouldn't be so bad except you conjecture about what is likely different between them and this TV remake. I will tell you the Polanski film is 'timeless" and most definitely does NOT need any "updating." From what I've seen in the numerous trailers, you are likely right about the pacing. Apart from Zoe Saldana, the acting in them is wooden. There are hints of extra fluff being added to pad the run time with at least a half-hour more content. All the film that's shot to fit -- the allotted broadcast time slot -- regardless how much it is unnecessary exposition, affects pace or distracts from the main story. There are numerous other problems. Moving the venue from NYC to Paris does absolutely nothing to enhance or improve the plot, and that's the major flaw with the other changes from Polanski's film and Levin's novel that I've seen via the trailers. At best they're gratuitous to counter accusations of cloning the original; more likely they're distractions and detractions from the main story.

Polanski's film is not fast paced, but it's taut, having what it needs to gradually increase tension and dread using a relentless cadence without any extraneous lint. The novel is similar and that is the power of both. Please, please, please watch the original film with Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon (who won an Oscar for her supporting role). Polanski knew how to manipulate the audience visually and aurally. It was the Second in Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy." The first, Repulsion (1965), was shot and produced in the UK on a $300k budget, 1/10th of the modest $3.2M for Rosemary's Baby. The third, The Tenant (1976), was produced in France (2010 film with same title is entirely different and unrelated). All of them are psychological horror films and all of them exhibit the same relentless, unswerving and horrifying march toward an ultimate inescapable doom.
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We have a black actress because???
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Because the director is colour blind.
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why does it matter, does it take away from story in any way? Salanda is a big name and brings attention to the show.
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Salami.
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Saldana.
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Never mind the wig Megan Boone wears in The Blacklist, if people want to sound off about a really bad wig they should start talking about the one Zoe Saldana is wearing in this miniseries. From the photo's it looks absolutely hideous!
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I had no idea this mini-series starred Zoe Saldana. Now I'm a little tempted to watch it because she is Dominican (like me).
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I will pass.
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I think the longest pregnancy ever was Skylar White on Breaking Bad. Wasn't she pregnant for three seasons?
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This ^^
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I'd have to give that award to Jennifer Tilly's Bonnie Swanson character on Family Guy, who was pregnant with the same child for so many years that they eventually joked about it themselves.
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True. I had forgotten about her.
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Really?Tthe surname of both couples is the same? They're both called Casevets? I don't think so (what happened to Woodhouse?)
Most of the time i like the reviews by corey barker, but he hasn't read the book AND didn't see the movie...tsk tsk...
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Yeah that name thing got turned around in the editing process. Thanks for pointing it out, I fixed it now.
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I usually trust Cory's opinion on shows, so this sucks! :/ but I'll still watch because I love me some Zoe Saldana & Jason Issacs. :)
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Let me get this straight--you haven't seen the Original Movie or read the Original Literary Source Material? So what do you as a reviewer bring to this review besides copious amounts of nonsense???
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Not sure why that's fully relevant. My job is to talk about this version, not immediately compare it to the other (almost certainly) better versions.
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Contextual purposes.
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A perfect example of a nonsensical statement you make in this post is right here: "Despite my lack of familiarity with the original Rosemary's Baby film, research tells me that the expanded runtime of the NBC miniseries gives the Castevets more time to sink their hooks into Rosemary and Guy, especially in the first hour." Since you have no concept of what the original film [or literary source] did with the characters the fact that NBC's miniseries has more time doesn't necessarily mean it is more truthful or inline with the intentions of the Author. It seems to me that if you want to make anything meaningful out of this comparison that you , yourself bring up in this sentence, you need to do more than read a few reviews on the material. You need to actually do the leg work yourself. Or be sentenced to a lifetime of writing lazy statements like " I didn't see x but I read online review y that said it was great!" That is as lazy as the press was in 2001 sitting in air-conditioned rooms watching news reports and rewriting them in their own words for broadcast in the US. But hey whatever right it is only a mini-series?
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You know what was the best part of the Dazed and Confused for me...


You never hear Sweet on classic rock-stations to speak of at all... Myself I would also put this song into the mix Scorpions' Hell Cat... From the infamous covered Virgin Killer Album...


But, you know you just don't really good classic rock in the movies any more....
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@Tatrafan: At least you're honest, I can appreciate that. :)
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Of your crappiness-- I would concur with that assesment.
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And a crappy one at that!
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I've been asking myself that same question and I've come up with two answers: 1) I'm just a bastard and 2) I'm bastard with a need for attention... Neither one is great, but I think they might be honest answers to your query.
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Judging from this and many other posts I have read of yours, you seem to like to criticize the authors of reviews and articles on tv.com..While you are very eloquent and have raised some valid points, I wonder sometimes why you still continue to read the articles on tv.com when it's apparent you find the writing of most authors on here to be significantly inadequate.. Not trying to attack you, genuinely curious..
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I appreciate the early review I had a bad feeling about this movie from the trailer; now I know to steer clear and enjoy Once Upon a Time and Revenge finale's this Sunday without a thought to this fiasco. Curious to see what the ratings are for Sunday compred to Thursday.
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Hey,Cory Barker. You're about a week early on this one. The first half doesn't premiere until Sunday.
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It's a pre-air review.
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Oooooooh. So it's a preview. Okay. Cool. I'll read it then.
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Sunday is 2 days away and not 7(!)
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Yes, your math is correct. However, the second half doesn't air until next Thursday.
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Any word on if this is heading to the UK?
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I'm sure you'll be able to find it online shortly after both parts have aired. Unless you don't like watching that way in which case you'll prb be waiting for quite a while.
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In the past, NBC has aired BBC or UK shows after careful negotiations (Merlin for example.) But it has usually been UK to NBC and took 1/2 a season later (for series anyway). You might want to check and see if any of the BBC channels are planning on picking this up.
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Well I'll be happy to read and comment on this... once I've finished watching the miniseries on Thursday. Really, what did you expect to gain my putting this review up so early?
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It's not worth writing post-air reviews for; we do this from time to time with miniseries.
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I completely get it..most of the ppl that will tune in for this have seen the original movie anyways or have some reference of the plot, 'cept for the young kids. You should check out the original movie tho, it is creepy, and set the bar for the whole demon baby thing. Kind of like "The Exorcist" did for its sub-genre.
Besides, you didn't even really get into the plot at all, and there are practically no spoilers unless someone has absolutely no idea what the hell Rosemary's Baby is... most of your comments were about the acting and use of run time. I personally appreciate this review, I was planning on checking this out cuz of the original and Saldana's involvement but now I prb won't... Unless I find myself really bored, but if I do check it out then at least I can go into it with lowered expectations..
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tv.com you really ought to do something about all the spam about making cash
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