Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Pacific, "Part Two": Basilone together

A review of "The Pacific" episode two coming up just as soon as I enjoy Rice Without...
"Everybody's heard of Guadalcanal and the 1st Marine Division. You guys are on the front page of every newspaper in America. You're heroes back home." -The cook
The particular kind of heroism on display for much of "The Pacific" is very different than what we most often saw in "Band of Brothers." "Band" was largely about advancing - moving forward, achieving objectives, saving your buddies. "The Pacific" is largely about the heroism of simply enduring - of getting through a brutal artillery barrage by night, knowing you're going to have to go out and face the enemy again come morning, of trying desperately to keep your body and (as Dr. Sledge notes to Eugene) soul intact.

Part Two certainly has a lot of the latter brand, and you can see Leckie and his pals (who spend most of the hour just hanging on) feeling sheepish and confused to hear themselves described as heroes(*). But it also offers us a concentrated burst of the more traditional form of heroism as we follow Basilone through one of the most terrifying, amazing, and 100 percent heroic nights any Marine has ever been through.

(*) In a conversation the real Leckie had with a cook shortly after leaving Guadalcanal.

There's a danger in all the movie action we're exposed to that we might become desensitized to true, extraordinary feats of bravery - that we might look at a night like Basilone had on October 24, 1942 and either shrug it off as too Hollywood or (worse?) not Hollywood enough.

But as directed by David Nutter (who helmed the "Band" episode "Replacements") and played by Jon Seda (doing wonders with what I have to assume was a lot of less-is-more direction from Nutter and others), Basilone's night - fixing one machine gun in the dark and under fire, carrying another without benefit of the special oven mitt to protect his skin, running back and forth for ammo and engaging the enemy hand-to-hand, leaving his machine gun nest to clear bodies so his comrades will have a better field of fire, and just shooting and shooting and shooting until the enemy stopped coming - is incredible both as a piece of filmmaking and as a sequence that makes Basilone stand out among the many brave men who served on Guadalcanal.

When I talked to "Pacific" head writer Bruce McKenna, who also wrote the script for this episode, I asked him about the fear that Basilone's night might seem implausible. He said:
"The first hurdle you have to get over is the innate skepticism of the 21st century citizen of what those guys could do heroically. The problem is you only have 8 minutes of film time to show 18 hours of Basilone's life. There are a lot of conflicting accounts of what happened that night, but we talked to as many people as we could. Showing him running out in the line, clearing the bodies, that was crazy. And a lot of people saw him do it... What Basilone did that night was way beyond what the average Marine in combat would have done. He was extraordinarily brave.
That Basilone managed to do all that - to help hold off a regiment of over 3,000 Japanese troops with only a handful of men and a couple of machine guns - is a testament to his bravery, skill and determination. But it's also a mark of luck. When he's out clearing those bodies, the Japanese shoot at him and miss, for instance.

At several points in Part Two, Basilone and his buddies remark on the small margin of error that separates life and death in combat. Manny, surveying a foxhole destroyed by a direct hit, notes that if the women in the artillery factory had included slightly more or less gunpowder, things might have gone differently. And after Manny himself dies while serving as a runner on that terrifying night, Basilone is consumed with the notion that if Manny had just stepped left instead of right, or moved a second slower, he might have survived.

"Yeah, but he didn't," says J.P., trying not to dwell on the randomness and danger of it all. "He was where he was and he did what he did."

And after the hell that was Guadalcanal, the Marines return to their boats - and their ascent up the rope ladders is bathed with a heavenly light by director of photography Remi Adefarasin - to discover that while they were hot, and hungry, and terrified and wondering why they were likely to die on this tiny speck of Earth they never heard of, the people back home were reading of their exploits and calling them heroes. In that moment, Leckie and his buddies are tired and filthy and so very, very much older than they were when they landed a few months before, and they're not sure how to react to being considered heroes when they were just barely holding on half the time. But you can also see that the word means something to them - that their sacrifices, and the ultimate sacrifices of the comrades who didn't make it off Guadalcanal alive, weren't happening in a vacuum. People in 1942 knew of the heroism of the 1st Marines and now, 68 years later, they know it again.

Some other thoughts:

• Nutter's episode of "Band" featured a scene where Nixon gets shot in the head but survives because the helmet takes all the damage, and a similar thing happens here to J.P. And, of course, there was a similar gag in the Normandy sequence of "Saving Private Ryan" (only there, I believe, the soldier dies because he's shot in the head again after taking off the helmet to admire his dumb luck). I know the head shot happened to Nixon during Operation Market-Garden, and I'm sure it happened to countless other soldiers and Marines, but it's kind of funny to imagine it as a kind of stylistic tic that Nutter and/or Steven Spielberg enjoys.

• Once again, we see both the Marines' esprit de corps and their utter devotion to Chesty Puller in the scene where he orders them to shave and clean themselves up before the Army arrives. And we see, with the wonderful way William Sadler later delivers the line, "We don't have enough men," just why Chesty's men adored him so much: because their lives and deaths really mattered to him as something other than statistics and strategical elements.

• Speaking of the Army's arrival, "The Pacific" isn't a particularly light miniseries (it certainly doesn't have as much room for comic relief as "Band" did with characters like Luz, Guarnere and Perconte). This episode, though, has some very amusing moments revolving around the Marine/Army rivalry, with the Marines stealing as much Army gear as they can get their hands on, Leckie enjoying his stolen mocasins, and Leckie getting sick on the peaches (and briefly earning a new nickname). About the stolen equipment, by the way: I've been getting a lot of e-mails and old-fashioned letters from Pacific veterans since I started writing about the series, and one was from an Army vet who wrote, "If they had equipped the Army like what I saw the Marines had, the Army would have done better or as good as the Marines did most of the time." I'm guessing he's not going to love this episode.

• Our visit back to Sledge's home in Alabama is even more distracting here than in Part One. At least there, it happened during an extended sequence with all three leads still on the homefront, and also helped introduce Sid Phillips. It allows us to keep track of Sledge in these episodes before he gets to the Pacific himself, and this visit lets Dr. Sledge spell out the torn-souls theme of the series, but I think I would have been okay with him being absent for a few episodes.

• I've been skimming James Brady's book "Hero of the Pacific: The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone" and couldn't find any mention of either Manny or J.P., so I asked McKenna if either or both were composite characters. (While many of the figures in the miniseries are real, McKenna and company had to combine some others, or in some cases attribute one person's words or actions to another for simplicity's sake.) He said, "Manny is a composite of two or three characters, one of whom died that night on the Canal. J.P. is real and was one of Basilone's better friends before and during the war."

Finally, let me again repeat how the No Spoiler policy is going to apply to this series. History on a big scale is not and should not be considered a spoiler. If you don't know the larger points of World War II and/or the Pacific campaign, then you and your high school history teacher need to have a chat. But the lives and military careers of Basilone, Leckie and Sledge, for our purposes, will be considered spoilers. So if you know more about one or more of them going in, or read up on them over the course of the miniseries, do not share any of that info in your comments, okay? We were able to get through the "Band of Brothers" reviews without giving away who lived, who died, who got promoted, transferred, etc., and I'm sure we can do that here as well. So until we get to the final episode in 10 weeks, no talking about anything that took place after the events depicted in a given episode (and that includes no talking about what's in the previews for next week's episode). Okay?

What did everybody else think?

46 comments:

Alex said...

So *that's* what was happening to Basilone during all of that darkness on my TV screen! That's a whole lot of heroism, and I could barely tell what was going on.

On the plus side, I'm starting to put names with faces, and I did enjoy the army/navy antagonism, as well as Sadler's performance (I know he's been around for a while, but I know him only from Roswell). I didn't mind the cut back to Eugene so much. At least it was at the end of the episode.

mojohand said...

I am puzzled by the comment from your Army correspondent. It is a fact beyond question that as the 'bastard stepchild' of the Navy, the Marine Corps was last in line for modern equipment. This was particularly true in 1942, when the Pacific theater was second in priority to defeating Germany. Note, for example, that the Marines on Guadalcanal are armed with WW1-era bolt action rifles (the Army had self-loading Garands) and Ch√Ęteau-Thierry-style water-cooled machine guns.

I'd imagine your correspondent knows this, so I wonder what he's referring to.

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed the episode, but have one complaint. It was difficult to tell which units were being featured. Basilone and his men were far away from Leickie and his unit, but sometimes I got the impression they were fighting together.

I understand that's because we're seeing marines in filthy uniforms fighting in a jungle, but more should have been done to show that these were different units fighting at different battle fronts.

As to the complaint that the marines were better equipped. Not so true. What that army soldier might have seen was army equipment borrowed by the marines for the duration.

Ryan W said...

After watching Part Two, my fiance and I are in total agreement that HBO should have aired Parts One and Two together as they did with BoB. Basilone's moment of heroism and the brief Sledge scene would built nicely from Part One have made for a better rounded viewing experience. Ah well.

Part Two was still stunning on its own, though.

CharacterDevelopment???? said...

Alan, so far we've gotten a lot of character development for Eugene Sledge. You've seen all 10 episodes. Do we ever get character development for Robert Leckie and John Basilone?

Marquis said...

i wasn't paying as much attention to part one as i thought, because I didn't really catch Basilone in part one and had no idea who he was. i recognised Leckie and some of the faces are familiar.

I'm enjoying the series, but honestly have no idea who these guys are

Alan Forkosh said...

One thing no one has commented on is the sound design. The action in the rear speakers during the battle scenes is truly amazing. I think that I've ducked for cover a few times.

Shanghai Jim said...

Tsk tsk people! The young (mostly) ladies (mostly) over on LiveJournal's Pacific discussion community not only have figured out who is who, but have chosen favorites, made avatars, passed out nicknames, begun writing fanfiction, and produced macros, GIFs and lolcats. Keep up with teh digital fandom. :)

Snot Boogie said...

Basil-OWNAGE!!!!!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Do we ever get character development for Robert Leckie and John Basilone?

Quite a lot, yes.

Toeknee said...

I agree with the previous poster who said it was confusing to keep the different units straight, and as presented it seemed like Leckie’s unit and Basilone’s unit were in the same vicinity. I’m sure things would be more clear on a re-watch.

And Alan you’re right that much of this episode would appear to be an overly Hollywood-ized portrayal of events. But it’s reassuring to know that much of Basilone’s heroics are based on eyewitness accounts, and that the cook’s statement to Leckie et al was based on a real conversation. So thanks for those insights, Alan.

TinMann0715 said...

After reading up on Basilone's courageous leadership that earned him the medal, this was 1 of 2 episodes I anticipated most. I was a little disappointed with how it was shot. It failed to convey the overwhelming superiority the Japanese had, and the duration of the battle. I also felt the Sledge cutaway was ill-timed. Those 48 hours on GuadalCanal were sheer Hell. I couldn't relate to Sledge like I could to Basilone and Leckie after watching that battle. The episode flew by as I kept waiting for that climactic shot that captured the essence of Basilone's feats. It never came. Lastly, I did appreciate the indignity of having the Marines climb the ropes on evacuation. No easy ride. More random thoughts when I watch it again.

Dan said...

To anyone who thinks it is difficult to identify and/or distinguish the characters, please re-watch parts 1 and 2 over again. It will be much easier to identify characters on the second viewing. My wife and I re-watched part one on Saturday night, and I had no problem identifying characters last night.

Damien said...

I must say that I got a lot more out of the episode only after reading your review, Alan. I don't really know the back-story to the actual events that were portrayed here, but watching the ep, I didn't get the same sense of heroism and nuance as you described it. Which is why it seemed odd to me that they would be considered such big heroes towards the end of the ep. For me, this installment wasn't especially effective in getting across the message that was intended, though it was still enjoyable to watch.

Hollywoodaholic said...

We would have felt more for Manny's death if we knew him a little better, or cared more. This series basically jumps into the battle scenes without the buildup and character development so many classic war movies use more effectively ("Battleground," for instance). The direction also haphazardly left too much up to the viewer to sort out about what was happening in that battle - I agree, it was confusing.

And why not show the heated machine gun barrel searing Basilone's flesh when it's happening, rather than see the burns after the fact? It takes away from the drama and heroism of the moment. I'm nit picking a fantastic and nobel effort, but there is such a rich template of how to present compelling war narrative where the drama serves the facts and not vice versa, I can't help but have high expectations.

Toeknee said...

And why not show the heated machine gun barrel searing Basilone's flesh when it's happening, rather than see the burns after the fact?

They did. Not only did they show that, but before the battle, they showed him setting a glove down, then when they’re ready to move, he says something like “where’s my glove”. Then he picks up the gun and you can hear a little sizzling.

Jin's English Tutor said...

My experience with jungle combat was brief (Panama), but I can assure you that it is as confusing for the participant as it is for the viewer. Only it smells a whole lot worse.

Another note: every one heading into combat says some version of "when it happens, it happens" at some point, but almost nobody believes it. The one thing that has bugged me about war movies for 20 years is the casual fatalism of soldiers, sailers, marines and airmen. Most of us are more scared than you can ever possibly imagine. And I think that it much more remarkable than casual heroism.

Weck said...

They should have named this episode "Badass," because that's how I'll always think of John Basilone after watching this. I think my mouth was as wide-open as his fellow Marines' when he was performing a clinic with that MG.

The tension/ensuing struggle after he literally bumped into the enemy soldiers in the woods reminded me of the same kind of tension I felt when Bull Randleman battled a German soldier to the death in a Belgian farmhouse during BoB.

Fantastic episode.

ambaryerno said...

The one disappointment I had was that, even though I realize it's not the focus of the series, the episode last night COMPLETELY ommitted the efforts of the Cactus Air Force, who was the only thing holding back the Japanese Navy and Air Force after the US naval presence was forced to withdraw following the Battles of Savo Island, Santa Cruz and the Eastern Solomons.

The episode made it sound like the Marines on the ground were wholly at the mercy of the Japanese Navy and Air Force, which was NOT the case because of the couple dozen Marine, Army and Navy pilots holding the line against the same overwhelming odds, outdated equipment, and lack of supplies as the infantry (at times, the CAF was pumping gas by hand out of wrecked planes to keep the rest in the air). They should have at LEAST given these men their due in Tom's voice-over introduction, as they did with Savo Island.

Bustin said...

While combining parts 1 & 2 may make sense for character introduction and story continuity, it is a great deal of information and combat to initially digest and may have been confusing to those not as familiar with WWII in the Pacific as many of us. Great series so far and I anticipate it will only get better.

paul said...

This was a much, much better episode. There are still flaws as others have noted, e.g., the lack of character development, confusion over unit assignment and location, and the failure to convey just overwhelming the odds against Basilone were. But I found myself engaged by this episode much more than by the first.

I still think it's too bad the producers didn't spend a bit more time with Leckie before combat. He was a troublemaker from the time he joined the Marines, and some of his antics during training would have developed his character much more and been funny as hell. That said, if we're going where I believe we're going next, there will be a chance to develop the characters more fully.

Jon Martinez said...

So far I have been really impressed with this series and I can't wait for more! Those that are making the mistake of comparing it to BoB are forgetting that we love 10 episodes as a whole of BoB, (I watched it at work, the entire series back to back) since we are being given this story an hour at a time, don't compare it to a finished masterpiece, you will miss all that has been great about the two hours we've be given! Character development, I guess, was taken from the books this series is based upon, and we can get to know just as much, if not MORE, about the characters from their battlefield experience than we can by getting a shot of who he was before the war. Let's remember that there are MANY different ways to tell a story, and that this one is STILL being told!

Basilone, Leckie, and Sledge are not THAT hard to keep track of but I agree that the units and where they are defending the line is a tad confusing, but all I really need to know is this, Americans on one side, Japs on the other, and the Americans can't let them through. These scenes really reminded me of scenes from Bastogne, with the artillery and confusion fighting, the tension of knowing the enemy was just there, but not knowing when they were coming... As for there not being a "Hero Shot" of the things Basilone and company were doing through out the night and so forth, I don't think he ever got the sense that he was this ultimate hero, I think they got the sense of being surrounded by a great and out numbering force and that they not only had to survive, but defend as well, so we get the action as it was recalled, and know that they did things no normal person could have.

I think not knowing you are a hero makes you a more likely candidate.

Both of my grandfathers were in the Pacific theater and it has been a joy just to see what their experience MIGHT have been. My living grandfather was a cook/SEABEE and he recalls being put on the line, (though he can't quite recall which island, he does tell me of a time that McArthur gave his SEABEE company a tongue lashing at building one of the finest bases and in the least amount of time, but next time to not cut down the trees, cause all they did was give the japs a beautiful target) so hearing that bit of dialogue last night about the cooks being put on the line really brought to bear what he truly faced over there.

NoCharacterDevelopment said...

Then, Alan why couldn't they have done more character development during the 1st 2 episodes like they did with Band of Brothers???

Anonymous said...

Having read Richard Frank's excellent history of the Guadalcanal campaign and knowing of Basilone's extraordinary heroism, I appreciated how well, in sometimes subtle ways, Part II captures this episode in history. Modern, computer-generated special effects might lead younger readers [or those without military experience or historical literacy] to miss it, but Basilone's extraordinary conduct is subtly shown in the reaction of his fellow Marines. Watch again the looks in their frightened faces as he totes that heavy, smoking hot Browning through intense fire down the line, bare-handed; fires it [without its heavy, necessary mount]; leaps out in front of the MG nest to clear piles of bodies from the line of fire; and dispatches Japanese who had infiltrated the line, up close, with a .45. Rambo is a cartoon cutout of combat heroism; Basalone was a real hero, and Part II does him justice. The lighting and sound did all that is possible to capture the hell these Marines when through that night in 1942. Great episode! For those who don't appreciate the time difference/distance [probably a few thousand yards] between Leckie's fight at the mouth of Alligator Creek and Basilone's a month or so later with the 7th Marines, read Frank.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Then, Alan why couldn't they have done more character development during the 1st 2 episodes like they did with Band of Brothers???

As Jon Martinez said, we have 10 whole episodes of Band - many of them watched multiple times - to look back on fondly, and so it elevates those episodes beyond how they were perceived at the time.

A lot of these exact same complaints were being made about Band up until episode 5 or 6, along with the added problem of too many characters to keep track of. Dick Winters got a little bit of development over the early episodes, but not a lot more than either Basilone or Leckie have gotten, I'd argue. There's a lot of stuff in these episodes that will mean more in hindsight if/when you rewatch them at the end of the series, just as there is for the people who watch Band again and again and again.

Hollywoodaholic said...

Re: Toeknee
Thanks for pointing out that detail. I saw the gloves, but missed that sizzle sound, so if it was there, I just missed it. I look forward to picking up all those kind of details (and better sense of characters) when I revisit the series on Blu-ray. Which, incidentally, I see HBO has backed off on announcing as being released Father's Day (they don't want to discourage any subscriptions at this point). And TVShowsOnDVD.com now reports the shipping date more likely November 2.

DWood said...

Finding it hard not to compare to BoB right now, but am anxiously awaiting next ep. One complaint: episodes seem too short...last night had 7 mins of 'intro' and then was done after 43 mins. Guess that's a sign I'm getting into it!

steve said...

I've read quite a bit about Basilone's heroics and I thought they actually didn't do enough to illustrate his remarkable deeds. My wife was far more impressed when I explained to her that he almost single-handedly held off 3000 Japanese soldiers and that only a handful of his group survived. I actually thought this episode was a build-up to his better known exploits.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the thoughts of not quite capturing Basilone's Medal of Honor actions in episode 2. But that being said were watching The Pacific- not "The story of John Basilone" The series has started off being excellent, as myself and many of my friends, that are not Marines, cant wait for Sunday nights. This will prove to be one of the finest war films ever made.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I was really disheartened by the lack of accuracy in the part II of the Guadalcanal tale last night. The US had tremendous air superiority throughout that campaign. The grunts were frequently shelled at night, but for all but the few days that Henderson Field wasn't operational, the US air force was able to deploy aircobras and warhawks very effectively. The naval disparity was also overblown. The Japanese Navy was scared of the US attack planes and only operated at night. The US Navy was able to effectively resupply during the day.

Anonymous said...

I wondered about the use of bolt-action Springfield rifles too. The Garand replaced the Springfield as the primary rifle of the US armed forces in 1936. It doesn't seem possible that the US would send Marines to fight in a crucial battle having outfitted them with the Springfield.

I've read the Basilone stuff about getting burned by the WWI-era water cooled machine gun too, but given that the primary machine gun of WWII was the Browning .30 caliber (circa 1919), I'm surprised that Marine units were sent to fight the japanese with that weapon too.

pbrl said...

No one has brought it up, but for some reason I am completely buying into Leckie's letters. I am now looking forward to 3 things in this series: Hiroshima, VJ-Day, and Leckie going home to see Vera. James Badge Dale is selling it for me.

itwasi said...

I like the performances from the main actors and Sadler. I enjoy the visuals of this visual medium called television but I'm just not pulled into this either in comparison to Band of Brothers or even without the comparison. You and Mr. Hotfix raised my expectations for this series to possibly be equivalent to BoB but I just don't feel it yet. I liked BoB having so many characters and how it required re-watching. I was eager to re-watch that series to get everything I missed. I simply don't feel that yet. I also miss the different stories from different perspectives like BoB-the officer vs enlisted perspective, something done very well in Generation Kill. I didn't get the feeling of those Marines being trapped and alone on that island like I did with Easy company and Bastone.

And that tacked on narration from Hanks annoys me. As does all of those intro credit (HBO, playtone, dreamworks). They take me out of this historical nature every time.

NoCharacterDevelopment said...

For those complaining that the actors looked too similar. The characters looked alike in real life.

[url]http://tinyurl.com/y9v29tq[/url] Robert Leckie.
[url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Basilone[/url]

NoCharacterDevelopment said...

For those complaining that the actors looked too similar. The characters looked alike in real life.
Robert Leckie.
http://tinyurl.com/y9v29tq
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Basilone

Tim said...

Like another commenter, my only complaint is the 7 minute intro cutting into show time. I hope that the Blu-Ray will give us extended scenes or directors cuts, that would be cool. Great show.

BTW (and maybe TMI) my girlfriend's new nickname I've given her is "Chesty Puller"

Jarhead said...

I actually came on here to make the same general comment Alex did in the very first comment.

My TV has been carefully calibrated for color and light and all that. During the night scenes on The Pacific I cannot see ANYTHING.

During the final battle of the second episode I basically found myself saying "well, a lot of crazy stuff is going on, I guess."

I caught the unjamming of the weapon. I missed the clearing of the bodies and burning his arm. And the final scene, I could hear he was battling with a Japanese and assumed it was hand to hand, but I really couldn't make out what was going on.

I'm only slightly complaining. I'm loving the series thus far and I realize that it was very dark there at night. But really, I cannot see anything!

michaelvankerckhove said...

I don't know if I'll look at my morning coffee the same way after that last scene.

Chris D said...

I've been watching this series with my father. His father served in the Pacific theater (as well as my mom's dad), so it has been of special interest to us.

I agree that the picture has been too dark, but I can distinctly remember commenting when I saw Basilone pick up his machine gun to move it to another position: "That has got to be pretty hot." And my dad said something about the gun being water cooled. It reinforced the fact later when Basilone didn't realize he had third degree burns on his hands and wrists.

The documentary at the beginning of this episode was less of a crutch, I felt, as a viewer I felt as confused and nervous about the upcoming battle as some of the soldiers (which is what I hope the director was going for).

While I liked BoB, to compare it to the Pacific is not prudent. This was a completely different war fought on completely different terms. It should be presented as such.

Anonymous said...

I'm writing this from memory, but as I recall the Marines had not placed orders for the M-1 Garrand rifle when the Army did and subsequently were caught waiting for them after the war's outbreak. I imagine the same was true on the machne guns. I seem to remember stories of how the Marines were cutting down (shortening) their old WW I issue Springfield bayonets to the length of the newer bayonets designed for the M-1 too. They would latch on both the M-1 and the 1903 Springfield rifles.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

I think it's normal for people to compare and contrast The Pacific with Band of Brothers. They're both about WWII, and were both done by Hanks and Spielberg. But people need to understand they're two completely different beasts. BoB followed one company that spent 10 months fighting before Germany surrendered. The Pacific is following soldiers from the very beginning of the conflict. So we're going to be following these soldiers for approximately four times the length of time we followed Easy Company in BoB. Things are going to get compressed. There's not a lot of room for them to stretch their legs this time. The tradeoff is that here we're following three men, while in BoB we could follow multiple people.

Pch101 said...

On the whole, I'm quite impressed by the series thus far, it's surely one of the best things that I've seen on television for quite a long time. However, I do wish that The Pacific had cut about a minute from the opening title sequence, and added another ten minutes that could have been devoted to a bit more character development.

I can appreciate that they have a tougher job with this series than with Band of Brothers, given that this is the story of three individuals, rather than a unit history as was the case with BoB. And it does get easier with a second viewing.

However, I have noticed that these first two episodes are clocking in at a bit over 50 minutes, which is about 10-15 minutes less than was the typical BoB episode. I do believe that they could have lengthened these first two episodes without comproming the pace or the continuity of the story.

A note to Jon Martinez -- during the war, your grandfathers may have had the right to refer to the enemy with an ethnic slur. But you, as someone who is obviously much younger and far removed from the war, do not.

While I can appreciate that writers did not pull any punches with the language used in the series, that does not give you license to repeat it. Given your surname, I'm reasonably sure that you wouldn't appreciate it if I used the various slurs that have been used to denigrate your people, so do try to show respect for others. The war was brutal and filled with hate, but it's over now.

Anonymous said...

Ethnic slur? Am I missing something? I reread his post several times and don't see any slur. Alan referred to Martinez's post and obviously didn't find it in need of moderating so I have no clue what you're talking about.

Andy said...

I'll start by saying B.O.B's and the Pacific have/are serving as a better education of what our men went through during WWII than anything I ever learned in school. They've inspired me to start reading and researching WWII history, and truly learn what really happened beyond the textbooks.

I watched B.O.B.'s for the first time over the 10 weeks leading up to this series, and have watched both episodes of The Pacific with great interest, and will do so for the next 8 weeks. I agree with the thoughts regarding the sense of where the units were in relation to each other as they fought, it was tough to sort that out as I watched episode 2.

I have to say that Winters was the only character I was 'connected' with after 2 episodes of B.O.B's. I'm sure after 10 episodes we will all gain a similar sense of character development and connection with the primary soldiers portrayed throughout the Pacific.

I don't have the background and history of the characters to draw from going into each episode. I'm relying solely on what I see on the screen to gain a sense of scope/scale/context.

My wife and I had NO problem seeing what was going on throughout the night scenes on our standard definition T.V. We were both in awe of the bravery and heroism displayed by Basilone. You could see the same sense of awe on the faces of his fellow marines. Sounds like some of you guys need to make some adjustments on your T.V.'s

I DID get the feeling they were against and overwhelming force, as wave after wave of Japenese soldiers continue to come at them. Short of panning back and showing 3,000 soldiers marching, I'm not sure what you folks were looking for. To me this did feel a lot like the Bastogne episode in B.O.B's. Did they do anything different to convey the sense of an overwhelming force in that episode? You knew they were freezing, surrounded, outnumbered, undersupplied, and you knew by the end of the episode that they overcame those overwhelming odds through unimaginable heroism and bravery.

The difference of opinion with this episode of the Pacific vs. B.O.B's in Bastogne might stem simply because this was episode 2, with far less time to get to know the characters than we had with B.O.B.'s by they time they where in Bastogne. You felt for them because of what they had already gone through to that point. We don't have that sense of connection yet with these men yet.

That being said, I want to be entertained and educated throughout as I was with B.O.B.'s. So far I'm excited by what I've seen and look forward to the rest of the series.

Comparisons to B.O.B's are natural considering it's the same war, same producers, etc. I'm sure by the end of this series we'll all be happy with what we've seen. Over time and multiple viewings I'm betting you'll hold it in the same regard as you do B.O.B.'s.

Pch101 said...

"Jap" is a racial slur, and Mr. Martinez graced us with it twice.

To those of you who don't know (and perhaps some of you don't), Jap carries the offensiveness of "nigger", "kike" or "spic." Mr. Sepinwall clearly understands that this term is racist, given his comments about Episode 1.

Again, I can appreciate that the writers of the series used such language for the sake of historical accuracy. But the rest of you don't have any such excuse.

Tim said...

I don't really think you can/should liken "Jap" to the N word. While I agree that in the context of how the soldiers are using "Jap" is inherently racist and I certainly would avoid writing "Jap" just for sake of being easier to write that Japanese, I don't think it carries the weight and negativity as the N word does. I think that "Nip' although similar to "Jap" is definitely more racist (if that makes sense...maybe it doesn't)

Arguing that one word is more/less racist than another is seeming more and more silly as I'm writing this, but I really think that words can be really powerful. And because of that I think that we can't liken the N word and it's historical context, to racial slurs used during wartime.