Thursday, March 11, 2010

'The Pacific' review: Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review HBO's "The Pacific," which is going to be one of my big obsessions for this spring:
Midway through HBO’s 10-part World War II epic "The Pacific," a group of frightened Marines try to take their minds off of combat by talking about family vacations. One mentions that his father always said of the Grand Canyon, "You have to see it to understand." The family eventually went there, and, the private explains, "My dad was right. Pictures don’t show it. You have to be there, looking down into it."

Most viewers of "The Pacific" won’t have actually witnessed the brutal combat on small islands like Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. But the moving (in every sense of the word) pictures of the miniseries do an incredible job of making the viewer feel like they’re looking down into the real thing.
You can read "The Pacific" review here. I'll have a behind-the-scenes feature tomorrow, and then episode-by-episode reviews every Sunday night.

18 comments:

Too busy for BoB said...

Alan -

A question. Though I have always wanted to watch "Band of Brothers," I've never actually gotten around to it. It sounds like "The Pacific" is a completely separate story line with different characters (but the same producers). Would it be ok to watch "The Pacific" before watching "Band of Brothers," or would it compromise the enjoyment of either/both? Thanks.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Completely different, can be watched entirely separately.

pal said...

I just finished the memoirs by Leckie and Sledge a few weeks ago. I'm looking forward to seeing how the producers visualized these books.

Paige said...

I'm so excited for "The Pacific." I have two grandfathers (both still living amazingly) and one served in France and Germany, while the other served in the Pacific. So much has been written and seen about the European front but I'm excited to get a visual to go along with the stories I grew up on.

AnnaN said...

RE: tearing the soul from the soldiers

My great uncle was a marine who fought and survived Guadalcanal. After the war he spent a year in a Naval hospital's psych ward trying to recover from the experience. He eventually did because all my memories of him were of a kind, generous, and quiet man.

I have a question for you as well,
Alan. Is The Pacific similar to BoB in that the story follows real people and their experiences or are the characters fictional but placed in real historical situations?

Sister T said...

A well written and engaging review, Alan. Looking forward to reading more.

Mike K. said...

I read Sledge's memoir, With the Old Breed, a few years ago. It's by far one of the most gripping accounts of war I've ever read, and I highly recommend people planning to watch the Pacific get their hands on a copy sooner rather than later.

I like the direction it looks like they're taking here, keying in on the theme of how war changes its participants. How a plain country kid like Sledge could go through all of that and return to civilian life, eventually becoming a professor in Alabama, is every bit as heroic as the actions of the battle. Really excited about this.

Sonia said...

I've been really looking forward to this series -- I live near the town where John Basilone is from -- he's a really big deal around here. It will be very interesting to hear the stories of his experiences in the war.

And HBO and the team that made Band of Brothers just do this sort of show SO well.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is The Pacific similar to BoB in that the story follows real people and their experiences or are the characters fictional but placed in real historical situations?

Yes, all real people, all real events. Some things are condensed or slightly fictionalized (we'll discuss some of that in the weekly reviews), but the vast majority of it is fact-based.

paul said...

I'll second Mike K's recommendation, and also recommend Leckie's "A Pillow For My Helmet." It's very different from Sledge's book in both style and tone, but still gripping. Leckie's rhetorical flourishes can be over the top, so to speak, but that's the way he writes all of his books (e.g., "George Washington's War").

Hatfield said...

When I saw that William Sadler was in this I had hoped he would play a role similar to Dale Dye's Colonel Sink from BoB, but based on your not mentioning him I'm assuming that's not the case. Sigh, at least we'll always have Trespass.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, Sadler's in it a bunch, especially early on. I suspect Dye probably had more overall screen time in Band, but Sadler gets to make a big impression.

Hatfield said...

Oh, well then hooray! I've always liked him.

I'm excited to watch this one live, though I hope I can avoid Wikipedia this time. After "The Breaking Point" on BoB, I ran to the internet to see if anyone else would die or get mangled.

bratcat said...

oh, good, I was going to ask you in another comment section if you woould be reviewing Pacific, glad to see you are. Looking forward to it!

Sister T said...

Re: William Sadler. I was excited when I found out he (a.k.a Darren Tyler) was in the miniseries, because I'm a Wonderfalls fan. Then I watched a preview and spotted Caroline Dhavernas (a.k.a. Jaye Tyler)! Two Tylers in one miniseries!

Hal Incandenza said...

Could not be more pumped for this. Great review, Alan.

Test said...

"Midway through..." what a classic double entendre Mr Sepinwall :-)

Ed said...

In the opening paragraph of the Times review, they mention a cabbie who jumped on Normandy & all I kept on thinking was "Please let it be Liebgott!"