`Elizabeth I' is a crowning achievement

TV Preview


THERE HAVE BEEN TWO INDISPUTABLE EMMY AWARD — There have been two indisputable Emmy Award- caliber performances on TV so far this year. The first was by Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano willing her husband, Tony (James Gandolfini), back to life as he lay seriously wounded in a hospital bed during weeks 2 and 3 of HBO's The Sopranos.

The second arrives Saturday night on HBO with Helen Mirren in a dazzling turn as Queen Elizabeth I, the legendary 16th-century ruler who reunited England and became one of the nation's most beloved leaders during her 45 years on the throne. Mirren's range across four hours and two nights of Elizabeth I is staggering. From the playfulness of her exaggerated rolling of the eyes as grim-faced advisers urge her to produce an heir, to the frightful anguish that engulfs her after she orders the death of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, Mirren delivers one of the greatest TV-movie performances of all time.

Elizabeth I Airs at 8 p.m. Saturday and Monday on HBO.

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