Despite the differences we all may have in our politics, personal creeds and our preferences for Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo game consoles, it can be generally agreed upon that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks (usually) make some good stuff.
Well, as you should be aware by now, “Pacific,” the HBO miniseries both men have been diligently working on the past few years, is now on the air with two episodes down and just a mere eight more to go.
“The Pacific,” tells the story of several marines and their units fighting in, well, the pacific islands during World War II. Just like Spielberg and Hanks previous WWII epic, “Band of Brothers,” their most recent episodic journey into the foxholes follows several men in particular, all of which are named and based after real soldiers that fought during one of our nation’s darkest times.
The show is the most expensive mini-series ever filmed, not just for HBO, but of all time; and it shows in the quality of acting, cinematography, sound effects, SFX, and overall production quality. Costing over 250 million dollars it definitely was a financial risk for the folks at HBO, but after just witnessing the first two parts I can say quite confidently that the risk paid off in spades.
One of the criticisms I’ve heard and read about is that the two parts that have aired lacked overall action and seemed to drag in parts. While I will say they are not “action packed,” I will add that they don’t need to be. The first episodes are doing several things – one of which is setting up the story, as well as showing viewers just how different the pacific front of the war was from the infinitely more popular European campaign.
Hell, any of us gamers can tell you that we’ve seen France, Germany and England time and time again in the pixelated, war-torn worlds we frequent; but games that feature the Japanese/pacific fronts are few and far between, with “Call of Duty: World at War” being the most recent example.
So, what “The Pacific” is trying to do, as a mini-series, is draw its audience into a world that they may not be completely familiar with; and show them just how the enemy, environment, and feeling of the pacific battlefront was completely different than those fought over in the western world. And in this way the first two episodes are not slow or poorly paced, but rather useful for setting the tone and mood for the rest of the show – which interviews with Hanks and Spielberg tell us are going to be more than filled with good ol’ war-time action.
This isn’t to say that the aired episodes are boring, or lack action altogether – far from it in fact – as both parts 1 and 2 of the 10 part mini-series spend at least 20-30 minutes depicting battles that were fought on the pacific island of Guadalcanal against the Japanese. Since each episode is just over 50 minutes you can see that what some have been criticizing really comes down to nitpicking, rather than having a legitimate complaint
True, the rest of the episodes are devoted to character development and back story, but what you have to remember while watching these scenes is that “Pacific” is essentially a ten hour movie, and while it can spread out the back stories a little bit it doesn’t have a TV show’s ability to toss character revelations around between several seasons. It has to get all of this done now so that we, the viewers, care about the characters enough to follow them through the next 8 episodes when things get real hard, real violent, and just altogether…real.
New episodes are coming to you every Sunday night for the next two months, so I’d highly recommend changing your schedule around to watch this excellent show when it first airs. Anyone that missed out on the phenomenal 2004 miniseries, “Band of Brothers” should take the time in-between Sundays to catch up on everything they’ve missed, as well. Seriously, if you know someone that has not seen it you need to go out, help them into the DVD section of your local store, and force them to buy one of the best things their eyes will ever see on a television screen (especially if you opt for blu-ray).
For any of you that have missed out on either two episodes you can visit HBO’s website and watch clips and recaps for both parts that have aired, but unfortunately, unless your cable or satellite provider gives you access to HBO on demand, there is currently no (legal) way to watch the first two parts.
I would highly recommend setting your or your friend’s DVR for next weeks episode if you can’t adjust your schedule, and set it so that you can also hopefully catch some of the repeats that HBO may air during the week. You really don’t want to fall further behind on what is already looking like one of the best shows ever made.