Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: The Pacific

Overlooked, of course, only in the sense that I didn't see it until recently . . . although it didn't take me as long to catch up to it as it did the companion series BAND OF BROTHERS.

THE PACIFIC is set up similarly to the earlier series, following a group of real-life characters through the war in the Pacific, starting with the battle for Guadalcanal and following on through to the beginning of the post-war era. It's based primarily on two books written by the participants, HELMET FOR MY PILLOW by Robert Leckie and WITH THE OLD BREED by Eugene Sledge. I own both of those books but haven't read them yet.

As in BAND OF BROTHERS, the battle scenes are brutal and graphic and very well-staged, and the acting is good all the way around, especially James Badge Dale as Robert Leckie and Joseph Mazzello as Eugene Sledge. Overall, though, this series suffers a little in comparison with the earlier one. Admittedly, BAND OF BROTHERS is one of the best mini-series ever made, so that comparison may not really be fair, but it's unavoidable. There are three main storylines in THE PACIFIC, including many scenes set far away from the action in Australia and in the United States. That jumping around in the plot, along with the romances in which several of the characters become involved, can't help but make THE PACIFIC feel like a really well done war soap opera rather than a recreation of history. I also missed the narration by actual veterans that figured so prominently in BAND OF BROTHERS, but again to be fair, most of the participants in THE PACIFIC, including all three main characters, had passed away by the time the series was produced.

So I feel bad about quibbling over these points when I really did enjoy THE PACIFIC and am glad we watched it. If you enjoyed BAND OF BROTHERS, you definitely should give this one a look, too.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you totally on this one, James. It was good but it was no BAND OF BROTHERS.

Jeff M.

Walker Martin said...

I enjoyed THE PACIFIC alot and thinking about the series makes me want to view it again. However, I agree with James also about BAND OF BROTHERS being the better series. Which is really ironic because the Pacific war was even more horrific than the European area.

The Japanese were prepared to fight to the last man and often did. They did not believe in surrendering and considered it dishonorable. When Americans or UK soldiers surrendered they were often mistreated and killed simply because the Japanese had absolutely no respect at all for a defeated enemy.

Yet, despite all the above, when the series aired it was obvious that too much time was being spent on love and romance. I guess the filmakers figured that they could not really show the horrors of jungle warfare with the Japanese forces. They showed some scenes but the true story was just too terrible even for HBO TV. It had to be deluted and watered down with soap opera elements.

Cap'n Bob said...

I couldn't watch Band of Brothers. The camera work was awful, jumpy and jangling around like an MTV video with palsey. And stay off my lawn!

Ray said...

The Pacific was panned by critics in the UK. The biggest problem was - or so they said - a lack of cohesion. Still I watched the series on dvd. I don't think that it can be compared to Band Of Brothers. B.O.B is narrowed to Easy Company from Normandy to Germany. On the other hand The Pacific has a much broader canvas. For the US this theatre of war involved all three branches of the service (Army, Navy and Air Force).
Interesting that the book 'The Pacific' is written by Hugh Ambrose, son of the 'Band Of Brothers' author Stephen Ambrose.

Hank Brown said...

Spot on, James. It's gonna be hard for any miniseries to match BOB. Perhaps if they'd settled on a single source to work from it could have been a more effective work.

I liked the Bob Leckie character, but the others had what felt like rushed development.

Still a good production, and it showed a side of the Pacific Campaign we haven't really seen in movies before.

Anonymous said...

Helmet for My Pillow and With the Old Breed are the two best WWII memoirs I've ever read, and I've read a lot of them. I envy you the experience of reading them for the first time.

Shay said...

I have not seen the series, but I strongly recommend "With The Old Breed." And incredible book.