HOLLYWOOD —The debut of “The Pacific” on HBO Sunday night was moving and very dramatic. The storyline is paced perfectly well and it’s written so that anyone who is young today and does not remember WWII and what led up to it, can fully understand it. The using of archival historical footage was an added bonus viewers did not expect. The storyline began in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Marine Sgt. John Basilone (Jon Seda) prepares to ship out and confront the enemy somewhere in the Pacific, while budding journalist Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) enlists in the Marine Corps. Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello), unable to enlist because of a heart murmur, says farewell to his best friend, Sidney Phillips (Ashton Holmes), who is about to leave for boot camp. Exactly eight months after Pearl Harbor, the 1st Marine Division, including Leckie and Phillips, lands on Guadalcanal in order to secure its strategically vital airfield and prepare for the inevitable counterattack.
The actors are doing a superb job in their roles. Jon Seda has won me over as the brave marine Sergeant and his disdain for the attack on Pearl Harbor was palpable. James Badge Dale’s character Robert Leckie, an up and coming journalist is so true to form. Americans were so mortified and outraged by the sneak Japanese attack that many young men bravely put their careers and dreams on the back burner in order to join the war effort and fight for freedom not only across the globe but here in America. Joe Mazzello’s gut-wrenching sadness because of his inability to pass the physical to enlist was also genuine and played amazingly with a depth I had no clue the actor was capable of portraying. It was a pleasant surprise to see each and every actor including Ashton holms as Sidney play their roles not only with complexity and depth, but with great dramatic skill.
If Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg wanted the audience to fall in love with their real and sincere characters, they have achieved that goal. The miniseries genre has long died in America and it’s a shame. However, HBO and this group of talented actors, writers, directors and producers may reinvent the genre that made television great in the ”˜70s. From “Thorn Birds” to “North and South,” even “Roots” were all spectacularly produced and made viewers long for the next episode. I found myself crying by the end of the episode, which was written by Bruce C. McKenna and directed by Tim Van Patten. I also found myself saying, “I can’t wait until next Sunday.” That’s something many of us haven’t said about television in decades.
“The Pacific” airs on HBO Sundays in March, April and ends in May.
Photograph Courtesy: David James/HBO