The Pacific, the new HBO mini-series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg (the team behind Band of Brothers) debuted last night. What did anyone think?

I particularly enjoyed the comments by veterans at the beginning of the show. The action starts at Guadalcanal and there were fewer battle scenes than I expected, but I find the episode compelling and look forward to more.

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Comment by Eric Walters on May 11, 2010 at 3:37pm
I also think BAND OF BROTHERS is the better series of the two, but being a Marine I have to say, unsurprisingly, that I like this miniseries. I think it's not titled well, however, as we're dealing the story of three Marines--that can't cover the whole gamut of combat that something titled THE PACIFIC should encompass. BAND OF BROTHERS covers one small unit, Easy Company, from training to the end of the war--and the actual time in combat covered is about a year (D-Day to the end of the war). It's easier to relate to Easy Company, and the story is more compelling. Easy participated in some very unique actions which make for good storytelling even in a standalone episode--D-Day, MARKET GARDEN, Berchtesgarten, to say nothing of The Bulge. The paratroopers, once introduced into theater, got far fewer breaks from the front than the Marines in the Pacific, and you get that sense in the mini-series. The combat actions are gripping and intense, but have a completely different feel.

The Marines get long breaks between major fights--but the fights they get into are whoppers. Guadalcanal to me felt the most like something I'd see in BAND OF BROTHERS, at least until the dawn at Alligator Creek with all the piles of dead Japanese; Pelelieu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa seem more reminiscent of World War One combat with all the slaughter going on on both sides (and I'd say the makers of the series could not possibly do justice to Sledge's recollections of the charnel house in those battles described by his book, With The Old Breed. But it's harder to relate to the situation--there's no unit family given three protagonists. Probably accurate--not too many Marine infantry units made it through the war in one cohesive team from 1942-1945. Still, this doesn't lend itself to sympathy.

Far harder is the fact that we're writing the script from two personal memoirs (Leckie and Sledge) and one historical account (one on Basilone). BAND OF BROTHERS was based on Ambrose's history of the unit. One book. Here we've got three and the blending of these stories poses some challenges from a writing standpoint.

But the biggest difference to me was that, as a viewer, I felt drawn into Easy Company in BAND OF BROTHERS, more of a "you are there" sensibility. In THE PACIFIC, I felt like I am sitting as an outsider, an observer, with the perspective of an external audience--even in the combat scenes. THE PACIFIC feels to be like many other historical mini-series out there, whereas BAND OF BROTHERS still has a uniqueness to it. BAND OF BROTHERS inspires, even when things go wrong, even when people do bad things. I feel none of that in THE PACIFIC, even when I think I should (the death of John Basilone on Iwo).

I have yet to see a movie or a TV episode where I think the essence of ground combat in the Pacific theater really seems to be adequately conveyed, at least compared to the ETO in WWII. Not sure why this is. Certainly there's no lack of good stories to be had.
Comment by Kimbo on March 16, 2010 at 11:48pm
The YouTube clip is the intro of the first episode. There is a conversation thread on BGG regarding the map displayed during the briefing early in the episode.
Comment by Robert Cleary on March 16, 2010 at 11:08pm
I found this youtube link to be informative: The Pacific: Historical Background Part 1 (HBO)
Comment by John Buck on March 16, 2010 at 10:45pm
Did anyone notice that when the Marine officer gave his speach early on, on the map behind him it seemed to show Iceland as Nazi held?
Comment by Chris Gammon on March 16, 2010 at 10:45pm
At some point I hope they use elements from Goodbye Darkness, William Manchester's memoirs from the pacific.
Comment by Eric Walters on March 16, 2010 at 5:34am
Tony, the series is based on two books that I know of--Robert Leckie's HELMET FOR MY PILLOW and Eugene B. Sledge's WITH THE OLD BREED. Of course, these two authors are both characters. The series also deals with the (short) life of John Basilone--there are a couple books I'm aware of on that, but I'm not sure which one is being used. So, three books at least.
Comment by Tony on March 15, 2010 at 11:10pm
A few questions: I didn't follow the production of this series, what is it based on?
I assume it's not one book like BoB but a combination of several, is that correct?
What are they? Who are these main characters? Leckie and Phillips?
(Basilone I do know)
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on March 15, 2010 at 10:42pm
Thanks! This could make it easier too to use this in my military history class when I teach it online this fall.
Comment by Tony on March 15, 2010 at 10:37pm
Watch Episode One here:

quick registration of email address only
Comment by Robert Cleary on March 15, 2010 at 9:40pm
I just watched the first episode and was impressed by the effort. Clearly, this is Band of Brothers in the Pacific, which works for me. I've only spent 53 minutes with these guys so it will take a few more episodes before these characters begin to rise above the battle haze. Thanks for the heads up with this series.

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