This week, I finally saw the value of the opening narrative with Tom Hanks interspersed with interviews with the World War II veterans. They're presented to offer background information for the events to come. Most of us have never seen anything like the war in the Pacific, so we wouldn't know about things like the intricate tunnels the Japanese used on Peleliu.
The more relaxed pace of the episode allowed us to get to know some of our principal cast members more intimately. Particularly Robert Leckie and John Basilone, who had very different experiences in Melbourne. Basilone was the decorated war hero, given the highest honor he could possibly achieve, while Leckie found something even sweeter: a woman.
(E02) After watching this second installment of 'The Pacific,' I think I have a feeling why people who've seen further along are talking about how things pick up once we get into the next episode. With these first two parts, we spent virtually the entire time on Guadalcanal, and there was virtually no time for any sort of character connections.
After this, the 1st Marines are finally getting off the island to move onto their next campaign, which means a change of scenery, and a chance for the impact of what they've just gone through to start hitting both the marines themselves, and the audience. Just like them, we've had virtually no time to process all the horror and warfare these men endured on the island.
While last week spotlighted most of the hour on the beauty of the island, this week it was the brutality of war itself that took center stage, with almost constant gunfire from the opening credits to the closing credits.
Reviews of the first installment of HBO's ten-part mini-series 'The Pacific' have been mixed -- I liked it, though -- and ratings figures aren't in yet. Nevertheless, the network has taken the bold step of putting that entire episode online for free viewing; you can catch it here. Is it a response to poor ratings -- even though we don't know those figures yet, the network likely does -- or just an attempt to lure people in who don't already have HBO?
The premiere was more style over substance, which is one of the major problems critics had with it, but it did offer some stunning visuals and established an atmosphere very different than 'Band of Brothers.' As a companion piece of sorts to the modern classic 'Brothers,' brought to us by the same production team including Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, expectations were pretty high for 'The Pacific' coming out of the gate.
Now I'm ready for this long-delayed continuation, as we see Churchill from the heights of power during WWII to his waning years. But I'm not sure how difficult a transition it's going to be with these key roles recast. It's no knock against Brendan Gleeson (Winston Churchill) or Janet McTeer (Clemmie Churchill). I've just so fallen in love with Finney and Redgrave in those roles, I worry that I'll be comparing their performances rather than enjoying the film.
Like everyone else, I'm looking forward to the end of summer reruns, and for the new fall season to kick off over the next several weeks. In addition to returning shows and new offerings from the networks and studios, I'm also quite interested in Ken Burns' new documentary for PBS, The War, which debuts on September 23 at 8:00 p.m. and is scheduled to air in seven parts. Check your listings for airtimes in your area.
I've been drawn to the idea of a lengthy documentary about World War II partially for the historical aspect, but moreso because of the human aspect. Growing up, my exposure to that era was through films featuring rugged heroes and clean, bloodless battles. Combine this with the solipsism inherent in all young people, and the result is a skewed --if not completely false-- perspective on what it was really like to be alive during that era, not only for the soldiers on the battlefields overseas, but also for the people back home.
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