23 May 2010
I regard Band of Brothers as some of the finest film-making i've seen. without trying to get up my hopes too much, i eagerly anticipated the airing of The Pacific. i think it helped that there were 9 intervening years.
what didn't help is that: the Pacific isn't very good.
or at least i should say, "when compared to Band of Brothers," as comparisons are inevitable.
the Pacific is certainly watchable (unless you're squeamish), it has some solid and moving performances, and it has moments of well-executed intensity.
it also has long periods of boredom, lacks focus, provides disjointed character and battle arcs, and wasn't as well cast as BoB.
i thought BoB had, among other strengths, two standouts: 1) the decision to follow a single company throughout the war, and 2) casting mostly unknown actors. The Pacific followed the second (with the exception of Jon Seda), but did not follow the first. I think that was to its detriment.
personally, i think i'm also suffering from knowing (much) more about the european theater than the pacific; i suspect the same is true for a number of viewers. i recognize that may have contributed to my lower enjoyment, so perhaps that's unfair. But i also think making the same choice as BoB -- following a single company -- could have provided that missing context and contributed to a better viewing experience.
that said, i'm sure the producers had discussions about formula, and wanted to do something different, such as starting some character arcs prior to enlisting. I think i would have agreed with this choice more had it paid off better. to me, it simply felt different.
it also didn't feel as epic as BoB. the series carried along with more or less the same energy, and all of a sudden, the Japanese had surrendered. it really felt as though the series was just getting started, so this was certainly "an odd turn of events".
it wasn't until the last two episodes where i finally started caring -- but not very much -- about what happened to the characters. at the end of BoB, when the reveal was made of "who was who" (matching characters to their real-life counterparts), that was moving. the Pacific used the same technique, without the same gravity.