My initial impressions of Pacific are positive.
First, I don’t have HBO so I didn’t plan on seeing the series until after it came out on DVD. However, because of a business trip I spent three days in a hotel that had HBO and I was able to catch episodes 1-3 and 5. So my observations are based on about 4 hours of the series. I suspect I won’t see any more until the DVDs come out. If so, I will try to remember to come back and update this post.
Like the Band of Brothers (BOB) series, Pacific is hyper realistic in terms of sets, equipment and uniforms. So an A+ on those important traits. I think, after Saving Private Ryan and BOB, however, the big battle scenes, such as the attack across the airfield in episode 5, were somewhat predictable. I counted five arms or legs being blown off, at least one maybe two medics killed while treating wounded, and overall you knew that some of the most engaging of the characters weren’t going to survive. The only question was who wasn’t going to make it. I also am not impressed with modern battle scenes were hundreds of troops mass for an attack. That’s just not realistic for anything other than the beach landings (where, unfortunately, massing was a necessary evil). Since I saw episode 5 first, and that’s where Marines storm the airfield on Peleliu, my initial impression of the series was not so hot, however, that changed as I viewed episodes 1-3.
Pacific is not BOB and that’s a good thing. It is different because the war in the Pacific was very different from the war in Europe, and it is different because the source material is very different. BOB is based on the Steven Ambrose book which is based on his interviews with the soldiers. Pacific is mostly based on the written memoirs of the men of the 1st Marine Division. In particular, it relies on Robert Leckie’s Helmet for my Pillow and With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge. Because it is based on memoirs, Pacific is much more personal than BOB. It includes a significant story line that focuses on the personal lives and loves of the men. This gives the series greater weight and makes you care even more than in BOB about the individual marines.
I didn’t see episode 4, and that is where the Marines land on Peleliu. From what I’ve seen in the trailers and in the above documentary, the landing scene using AMTRACs is probably the most realistic ever filmed.
So, overall I’m very happy with Pacific. Without seeing the next five episodes, I am guessing it is on its way to be a classic similar to BOB. If you have HBO I strongly recommend that you catch up with the past episodes and invest in the next five. If you don’t have HBO (like me) than, enjoy the making of the movie above, tease yourself with the trailers on youtube, and look forward to that boxed set that I’m guessing will be in stores just in time for Christmas 🙂
Here are the books I recommend to go with the series: