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March 14, 2010

The Pacific - Episode One

Kinda phoning it in, which is a little disappointing.

They set the stage I suppose. It's hard to encapsulate the first six months of the war in an hour. Some character development, but I didn't feel the connections that you began to develop with Band of Brothers from the interviews with the veterans. You meet young men, mostly who enlisted after Pearl Harbor and are getting ready to head off to train. You don't really see any of the training though, I don't know if Spielberg and Hanks decided we've seen enough of that already, but you miss opportunities to build on your characters, tell more of their story.

There's one young man who wants to enlist, whose doctor dad says "no, you won't pass a physical with that heart murmur". He's already been billed as one of the three main characters, so we'll see that story play out later.

The racism we were warned about was certainly there. A couple of good, ugly slaps, what was more telling was the reaction of the Marines to the company CO (that "dude, what the hell?" look) seemed more contrived than the actual remarks.

Probably some spoilers follow, so they're below the joint;

Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws, and asks no omen but his country's cause. Homer explaining to Marines what the war is really all about. So we have a wise young man in the company that no one will understand.

The relatively unopposed landings at Guadalcanal were portrayed reasonably well. As were the immediate naval battle losses following the landings that resulted in Rear Admiral Turner withdrawing his fleet from the landing area ("the George F. Elliot sank with half our chow, our ammo, and all of our ass-wipe").

There were odd contrasts with the Marines learning about the Japanese defenders which all came across as two-dimensional. Atrocities, a suicide bombing by a wounded Japanese soldier, digging through the personal effects of dead Japanese soldiers to find an American flag from Guam or Wake and a photograph of a Japanese soldier with his girl or his wife.

And that awkward moment where they are toying with a Japanese soldier, who gets caught in crossfire until he can't escape, throws his rifle down and starts screaming at the Marines defiantly until one of them (who's a pretty freaking awesome shot with a .45) puts a round in his chest and ends it.

I'm not saying there was never a company CO who freaked out in a firefight and huddled at the bottom of a hole, just seemed odd to have him as the first one. Why not any of the other men? Doesn't that make the point just as well? What was the point?

That's the problem when you set the bar high with Band of Brothers. There's that friggin bar, and it's way up there. There are moments like Private Malarky picking up laundry back in England after their first engagements with the Germans in Normandy, and he collects all the laundry for the men in his unit who weren't coming back. That was powerful.

It's just the first episode, I'll stick with it, but so far it's not compelling. Or rich.

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posted by Dave In Texas at 11:33 PM

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