Friday, March 12, 2010

HBO's 'The Pacific' behind-the-scenes: Sepinwall on TV

As a follow-up to yesterday's review of "The Pacific," I have a behind-the-scenes feature with thoughts from many of the behind-the-scenes personnel:
Not long after HBO’s "Band of Brothers" debuted in 2001, "Band" writer Bruce McKenna was sharing a beer with Bill Guarnere, one of the World War II veterans whose story was depicted in the landmark miniseries. McKenna told the former paratrooper that he couldn’t believe what Guarnere and his Easy Company mates went through as they made their way across Europe.

"Bill said, ‘You think we had it rough? You should talk to those boys who served in the Pacific,’" McKenna recalls.

That quote was at one point going to lead off "The Pacific," a "Band" companion miniseries nearly a decade in the making. And it remains the guiding principal followed by McKenna, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and the rest of the team behind the new $250 million production.

"This is ‘Band of Brothers’ goes to hell," says McKenna.
You can read the full "Pacific" feature here. I'll be attempting to write up each episode as it airs (making it a nice bookend to my "Band of Brothers" reviews from last summer), so check back Sunday night at 10.


Unknown said...

Pump for this and for FX new show Justified and BREAKING BAD!!!!!!! good week coming up

Stephanie said...

My grandfather fought in the Pacific. He was stationed in the Philippines and later fought at Guadalcanal. He came home with a bronze star and a purple heart and never spoke of his time in the war. It wasn't until after he passed (in 1998) that my grandmother showed us any of his military decorations, photographs, discharge papers, etc.

In some ways, it's hard to understand why the men and women still living won't speak of WWII --when the thoughts, feelings, letters and diaries of so many are now providing the backdrop for some of the most magnificent TV series and movies ever produced. Yet at some point it sinks in that war isn't enetertainment, that there are soldiers still fighting and still dying in some far away land most Americans can't find on a map.

It's admirable that Tom Hanks has done as much as he has to tell the stories of the Greatest Generation and to preserve history in a way that will prevent our children and our children's children from ever forgetting the cost and sacrifices of battle.

Of all the writeups and reviews I've read on "The Pacific" most revel in the high cost of principal photography, or the transformation of some Austrian beach into the gritty, dark sands of Iwo Jima. Many fail to recognize that the actors are portraying victims of this war who came home battle-scarred and weary, having lived through horrors none of us can fully comprehend.

Thanks, Alan, for not forgetting the real story behind a $250 million production. Too many forget that the real story isn't just what we see on TV.

Anonymous said...

In honor of the premiere of HBO’s 10 part miniseries THE PACIFIC check out this list of the Top 10 World War II TV Series.

Anonymous said...

I've been fortunate to walk both Guadalcanal (and some of the other Solomons), Peleliu (by the way, pronounced by the Palauans, who should know, as Pel -la-loo), and other battlefields of The Pacific. I was guided by the amazing narrative that the Archives in St. Louis provided me on my uncle. (then) Capt. Elmer Salzman (eventually Major General Salzman) who served with the 1st Marine Division from Guadalcanal to Okininawa.
I wrote to the Records Center, and after many months, was sent more than 50 PAGES of week by week accounts of my uncle's service in The Pacific. I would encourage all to write, however, it is a lottery...there was a great fire in the 70's which destroyed may records.

Peleliu: I was there in 2000. Few Palauans (those who enhabit the Palau Islands of the central Pacific) returned after the war (their beautiful island was blasted to resemble the surface of the moon, but covered with maggot infested, rotting corpses by THE THOUSAND). On "Bloody Nose Ridge" ("Umerbrogol Mountain"), human bones and live ordinance was everywhere. So much Stuff was laying around....both American and Japanese.... that a small fraction would clear 2 city blocks if found in Manhattan (I almost kicked a block of C4 plastic explosive, let alone the 500 lb bombs, unexploded mortar rounds, 20mm shells by the cartload....). The Japanese dug HUNDREDS of caves into Peleliu. I, along with local guide Tanji Jesus, ventured down a 25 yd. tunnel into one that HELD A THOUSAND MEN and was 1/2 the size of a football field... Few Palauans returned to Peleliu after the War, as you can imagine.... The juxtaposition of the indescribeably beautiful Rock Islands of Palau (Google that...) with what I saw. Words seemed futile...even 58 years after.......