Variety critic Brian Lowry’s review of The Pacific – a miniseries about World War II – was posted well before the series premiered; however, since half the episodes in the 10-part series have now aired, one can start to analyze his viewpoint.
Lowry’s reaction is mostly lukewarm to negative. His biggest complaint about The Pacific is it’s lack of cohesion. As he puts it, this disconnectedness, “makes the hours play more like loosely assembled snapshots of the war without a compelling hook to pull the audience along.”
His point is well taken. Though The Pacific really only has a handful of main characters, their personalities are slow to develop. For example, John Basilone is essentially a blank slate after the first episode – none of his character traits or defining characteristics are revealed. The second episode sees him perform a heroic action, but it comes out of the blue. We know what he did makes him a hero, but we don’t know anything else about him. His character is a cardboard cutout.
Throughout his review, Lowry generally avoids referencing Band Of Brothers, a previous WWII miniseries that, like The Pacific, was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. But he can’t resist a parting shot at the duo, stating they’ve, “already touched most of the bases The Pacific reaches – and, alas, done it better.”
Once again, Lowry is correct here. Many have argued Band Of Brothers and The Pacific aren’t comparable. True, one follows an entire company of paratroopers in Europe, and the other follows a small group of marines in Japan, but this is beside the point. Band Of Brothers succeeds where The Pacific is struggling because of its steady progression and engrossing character development.
Everything in The Pacific feels rushed. Characters are introduced too quickly, and even the first episode has quite a bit of combat. Instead of jumping directly into combat, Band Of Brothers followed Easy Company from their arrival in basic training to their drops on D-Day and then on to their various battles throughout the war, all the while fleshing out a large cast of characters. This was a far more effective approach. Combat situations involving characters we know nothing about are hard to get invested in. Combat situations involving characters we’ve gotten attached to over the course of several hours make for riveting television.