This three-part, seven-hour TV adaptation of Edgar Bulwer-Lytton's 1834 best-seller The Last Days of Pompeii was arguably more faithful to its source than any of the earlier film versions -- and inarguably the most expensive version of all, boasting a 19,000,000-dollar budget and a truly spectacular cast. In recounting the events leading up to the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., the film, like the novel, introduces a veritable coliseum full of colorful fictional characters: stalwart Athenian Glaucus (Nicholas Clay), religious-zealot Egyptian Arbaces (Franco Nero), and mighty gladiator Lydon (Duncan Regehr), all of whom vie for the affections of high-born Ione (Olivia Hussey) and lowly, sightless slave girl Nydia (Linda Purl). Also around and about are Ned Beatty as wealthy merchant Diomed, Lesley-Anne Down as belly-dancing courtesan Chloe, and a handful of theatrical stalwarts like Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quayle. Mercilessly drubbed by the critics, who chortled at such dialogue as "Turn the other cheek, Christian lover!" and "Christians. They're everywhere I go. They're spreading through the empire like a pox!," The Last Days of Pompeii nonetheless garnered healthy ratings when it aired over ABC from May 6 to 8, 1984, despite the formidable opposition of the NBC blockbuster miniseries V: The Final Battle.