The BEST Episodes of The Beatles Anthology
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Network: ABC (US)
This series is a documentary on the life and times of the Beatles. It features clips from many of their songs as well as in-depth descriptions of their songs, tours, and lives
#1 - July '68 to The End
Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 23, 1995
All things must pass, as the man said in this final episode, things are passing strange and fairly fast. The music holds out till the end (as good as gold, as good as ever better even, some might say, bearing in mind the quality of Abbey Road, which ends this stunning story) and the Beatles, having worked through the White album, Let It Be, Hey Jude and Revolution, two weddings, two busts an the rooftop concert equal Gilbert and Sullivan in the level of acrimony and the heightened quality of the work that was done through it and despite it all. The Beatles have survived their success and survived their era to remain modern, timeless and supreme against all comers. Paul, George and Ringo can still sit around a table and relive the twentieth century's greatest romance. This final tape evades nothing and reveals the rents and splits that ended their 60's life together but it cannot avoid encouraging all of us to believe in magic.
#2 - June '67 to July '68
Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 23, 1995
It is the summer of Love, and those whom Timothy Leary has called the "avatars" sing All You Need is Love on black and white television on the first world satellite television programme. It is here in full colour and precedes the disillusionment of George with Haight Ashbury (San Francisco's hippieville), and the slamming of another door with the death of Brian Epstein, who was rarely alone but often lonely. The same weekend, as all who know the story know, the four are with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who is initiating them in Transcendental Meditation. Magical Mystery Tour takes their minds of things and becomes a great TV vehicle for more wonderful songs even if critics don't like it. Apple Corps, their new company, is formed to "mix business with pleasure". Those Were the Days, sings Mary Hopkin, and they were - those days.
#3 - August '64 to August '65
Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Nov 19, 1995
Success, well earned, in the struggles for recognition, is now assumed as a natural state. All the records are number one, both singles and albums and educated America is now in thrall to them. The Beatles sweep through the great US cities, drawing tens of thousands to airports for the merest glimpse. They play for now more than half an hour per concert. A Hard Day's Night has guaranteed them star status in the cinema and they laughed their way through Help! in Technicolor. Paul dreams he has written Yesterday - and has. They are the first group to play a baseball stadium, Shea in New York, breaking records for crowd fever, numbers and good cheer. Oh, and they go to Buckingham Palace to receive medals from the Queen and, by now, more or less accept it as their due. They are, however, as happy and polite as can be. Life is now almost fun, albeit with a strand of stress now slicing through it...
#4 - August '65 to July '66
Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Nov 22, 1995
There is a real joy within this video... yet now and again we hear the bell of a cash register ringing up some early charges in the price of fame. Within lie 'miles' of archive of performance and off-duty fun, either unseen or forgotten and certainly never before assembled in such a feast of words, music, sights and sounds. This is substantially the autumn and winter of 1965 and the continuation of their rule as Lords of the Earth into 1966, absorbing Rubber Soul and Revolver. They meet Elvis and hang out with him. The four are never more musical, confident, fluent or assured than in this episode, which is my favourite because everything has come together in full colour, with the keys to all kingdoms theirs for the asking. Hints of a bad day in Manila bring us up short and it seems that things are about to change... Exciting? Or ominous? Maybe both.
#5 - July '66 to June '67
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 22, 1995
The glory of this story is that if you didn't know it, the surprises are truly astonishing and if you do, the delight is in the detail and this episode contains so many astonishing advances and reverses, setbacks and recoveries and in such quick-time that in fiction many of them would have been edited out. Our heroes 'snub' Mrs. Marcos of Manila and a nation's fury turns on them after three years of world-at-their-feet. Then it is thought John suggested in an interview that they are more important than Jesus. He explains himself, but too late to prevent Third Reich-style pubic burnings of their work. They live this down but retire from touring and go into the studio which brings an amazed world the might whirligig of Sgt. Pepper, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields here on the screen in surreal and glorious colour. They sing Baby You're A Rich Man, and they all are, but they don't buy an island in Greece. That is about the only crazy thing that doesn't happen in this episode.
#6 - February '64 to July '64
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 19, 1995
This was still a time of wonderment on both sides of the equation. The world couldn't believe this magnificent four-headed creation could continue to be so delightfully entertaining and impudent and the creature couldn't believe the world could be so nice. Wherever they went now, first America, then Europe, the Far East and Australasia, and back to Liverpool for the special 'local' premiere of A Hard Day's Night, they brought Beatlemania with them. They couldn't help it; it was a form of real love. George would say many years later that the world used them as an excuse to go mad and then blamed it on the Beatles, but there is a parallel theory that it was time for the world to go that sort of mad - get down a bit, loosen up, and, like Uncle John in Long Tall Sally, have some fun tonight. The crowd scenes in this segment are awesome and , in retrospect awful. How did no-one get killed? The bloom of success was still fresh in the story herein.
#7 - March '63 to February '64
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 19, 1995
The earth is moving fast beneath their speeding boots. Millions of saloon bar prophets who couldn't tell them apart had to hand it to them': "They've got something! From Liverpool, I hear - of all places." From Liverpool uber alles! They leave their Cavern Club in this episode and within months they take the ascendancy in the British pop world, and start to live the life of Riley in London. They play the Palladium, the Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Variety Show, sing Moonlight Bay with Morecambe and Wise, give a spare hit to the Rolling Stones, play hundreds of concerts in Britain, nip over to Sweden, invent Beatlemania, record I Want To Hold Your Hand (their 4th British number one in a year) and as if in a dream - while they're conquering Paris - the record goes to Number One in America three weeks before the Ed Sullivan Show in New York. If there had been no Beatles, no-one would have had the imagination to invent such a story.
#8 - July '40 to March '63
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 11, 1995
This is the scarcely credible beginning of the Great Adventure, going back, back, back into a great war in a grey time that seems to belong to other beings in other worlds. Britain under Hitler's bombs, boys not yet Beatles struggling for a place in the sun. Wonderful archive of yesterday's enemy seaports now united by primitive, derivative rock'n'roll - Hamburg and Liverpool, full of young men scuffling for position and rank, nobody with advantage except for real gifts and those the Beatles had aplenty: wit, music, energy, looks, personality. The good Lord sent them a manager, Brian Epstein, and a producer, George Martin, and so we see how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr influenced by the power of American r'n'r and r&b used their cheek and confidence and talent to get their first Number One in Britain: Please, Please Me. Wallow in these Black and White beginnings - see how the forties became the fifties became the sixties and discover how becoming the Beatles became.