Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Thirteen months and ten million dollars were lavished upon this ten-hour, four-part TV miniseries about legendary globetrotter Marco Polo. Newcomer Ken Marshall played the title character, a 14th century Venetian explorer who, among other accomplishments, firmly established the "silk route" between Europe and the Orient, introducing such precious commodities as spaghetti and fireworks to the Occidental world. In addition to featuring the usual polyglot of major British and American stars in cameo roles (including Denholm Elliott, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Leonard Nimoy, and Burt Lancaster), the production represented the first Western production to be filmed on location in China since WWII -- not to mention the first English-language appearance of celebrated Chinese stage and film actor Ying Ruocheng, superbly cast as the mighty Kublai Khan. An American-Italian-Austrian-French-British co-production, Marco Polo received its first U.S. showing when it was telecast by NBC from May 16 through 19, 1982. A "condensed" version, running approximately 270 minutes, was later made available in Europe and South America.