There's nothing miniature about the scope of these historical mini-series; from 'Roots' to 'I, Cladius', they bring history to life in digestible chunks, without dragging on interminably (like some TV shows we know).
What do Ancient Rome, Medieval Florence, and the Eastern Han Dynasty have in common? No not great art or literature--sword fights. Lots and lots of sword fights. Sure some of them gratuitous in terms of advancing the plot, but how else are you going to kill your enemies (or zombies, or vampires)?
They may be set in antiquity, but there's nothing dusty about these period shows; check out HBO's 'Rome' for a Deadwood-esque treat, or if you have some time on your hands, binge the entire 'Spartacus' franchise.