The Pacific - Blu-ray Review

'doesn't really get going until Episode Three when the action takes a break and director Jeremy Podeswa gives us a chance to spend some much-needed character time'

The spiritual sequel to Band Of Brothers (same production team, same period of history, different locations and characters), The Pacific feels worthy and well-produced but lacks some of the magic which made the original series such a landmark of modern television. Overseen again by Tom Hanks and Steven Speilberg, the series doesn't really get going until Episode Three (Melbourne) when the action takes a break and director Jeremy Podeswa gives us a chance to spend some much-needed character time with the hitherto fairly anonymous main players.

With those characters defined as a triumvirate of Bob Leckie (James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) and John Basilone (Jon Seda), along with their respected associated compatriots, The Pacific improves markedly. Dale and his gang feel like forbears of the 1970s Vietnam war troops, larking around as much as possible and engaging in several bouts of rule breaking, all whilst Leckie - articulate and intelligent - struggles to externalise his opinions on the war and on his situation. Basilone and Sledge serve as links back to America, the former being pretty sharply shipped back home and the latter being forced to wait for his deployment thanks to an over-bearing family.

The strongest moments of the series happen during the corridor from Melbourne to Peleliu Airfield (Episode Six) when Leckie's group are at their most developed and Sledge is just starting to emerge in his own right. Basilone is largely marginalised until a post-Episode Six return which feels overly manufactured and doesn't have the emotional importance of the character's own real life story. Gloucester/Pavuvu/Banika (Episode Four) is both tense and well managed by director Graham Yost who has the enviable task of juxtaposing an hour of warfare against the previous episode's luxurious Melbourne-based downtime.

The final episodes have some good moments of scripting, particularly Home (Episode Ten) which confirms that you actually care a lot more for Sid (Ashton Holmes) than perhaps previous episodes would seem to allow. Episodes Seven and Eight though are fairly anonymous and the character changing that seems to happen every third episode or so continues to be both frustrating and confusing. There isn't the level of cast commonality that Band Of Brothers had and when that series changed cast members it did so in a much clearer way than is handled here. A good compatriot to the first series but never so much as threatens to take that production's crown as the best thing we've seen on TV for a number of years, possibly ever.

Look further...

'an exceptionally well made series that’s filled with great performances, supremely accurate battle recreations, and a good deal of heart' - Good Film Guide, 9/10


  1. i think you said it perfectly.
    i wanted to be as blown away by this as i was band of brothers, but... i just wasn't.
    but it wasn't a bad show, either.

  2. Exactly my feelings. They set themselves such high standards with BOB and they didn't meet them with their second effort.

  3. I obviously liked this more than you!! I think I liked it because the books/memoirs it is based on are far superior to that of BoB's which wasn't Ambrose's best by any stretch of the imagination. ( Sledge's book is regarded as one of the best memoirs from the Pacific ). Whilst BoB is a fine book it is somewhat over rated against some of his earlier works which were far, far superior ( for instance his 3 volume bio on Nixon, Undaunted Courage on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Crazy Horse and Custer which I particularly like ).
    I just wonder if after BoB's familiarity was the problem with The Pacific? I mean we sort of knew what to expect somewhat didn't we?!

  4. I've read Ambrose's BOB but I honestly can't remember much about it. The series however, stayed with me for ages and I've been back to it twice since my original watch. I'm sure you're right in the fact that its familiarity and how good it was raised expectations, possibly too high for this to ever live up to them.