Tracking HBO’s "The Pacific" Part II

And the show turns out to be … pretty lousy. Like most people I know, I stopped paying attention right around episode four.

The biggest problem, I think, is that in buying into the fashionable rehabilitation of the Imperial Japanese soldier as hapless victim of forces larger than himself (I think the Clint Eastwood WWII movies started this fiction), and by focusing almost solely on grunts in obscure jungle and island battle locations—Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Iwo—the writers needlessly deprived the audience of much of the epic human drama that consumed the entire namesake region between 1941 and 1945. Had the show interwoven stories from four or five locales—say, Nanjing, Singapore, Manila, Guam or Hiroshima—it could have realistically portrayed the way the war affected men, women and children of dozens of nationalities, and still found space for military strategy and the intense jungle firefights that clearly gave the producers such hard-ons.

That said, WWII was so enormous that it never stops revealing incredible stories. No doubt someone will take another crack at the thing and get it right.

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