HBO’s The Pacific, Episode 2

I’m very behind this week, and so soon after reviving the blog, I know! But on the plus side, I haven’t forgotten.

Two things struck me about last week’s episode of The Pacific. First, the oral history snippets at the beginning (again, as in episode 1). Second, the “in-crowd” quality of military history films and shows.

As I mentioned before, I figure the use of oral history tidbits at the beginning serve a very specific purpose. In addition to honoring veterans by giving us the opportunity to hear their stories firsthand, grounding each episode with oral history offers a reminder of the veracity of what you’re about to see.

And yet, they don’t yet fit seamlessly with the show. I’m still not convinced that the placement of these videos at the beginning offers a real benefit (as opposed to putting the oral histories at the end). Why not show those oral histories alongside the credits? (With HBO, you have to sit through the credits to get to the preview for next week’s episode anyway.)

By putting the oral histories at the beginning, your viewers are disoriented. The Hanks-narrated preface is useful, because THAT provides historical grounding to where we are and what’s going on. It’s the factual aspect: here’s what’s happening, and what you need to know.

The oral histories are personal perspectives on those facts. They are invaluable, but they don’t provide the same context to set you up appropriately for the rest of the episode. Rather, I think it causes more confusion than anything else. But I’ll keep considering this, too.

And then, the in-crowd element: ever notice that, if you do not have military experience you miss a lot of the acronyms, nicknames, and other “in” terminology and jokes? Yeah. Just an observation. Throughout the episode, characters use terms and references that make no sense to people who haven’t been there.

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