Ep 220: Dave Lawson, Drew Rhodes, The Pacific

thepacific.jpgDave Lawson tells us all about the goal of combining football and family entertainment on the Bounce.

Drew Rhodes was the location manager for The Pacific. We find out all about recreating 1940s Melbourne in 2009 and just what the hell a location manager does anyway?

Oh, and also we review the Pacific, just in case there’s not enough content in there for you.

There’ll be some news coming your way shortly.

15 Comments

  1. Way to insult me TWICE in 10 minutes:

    1. I hate football (AFL)
    2. I love football (soccer)

    The Pacific = BORING. I was reminded of Jarhead, except Jarhead was more interesting.
    I tend to agree with John (& Josh?) – it's propaganda. I had exactly the same response: why now? And as far as The Yoof taking an interest in these things, I believe it's because of the climate and how the news media presents that information – you're with us or against us, they're all terrorists, etc etc.

    and bring back Against The Wind.

  2. I think that the whole 'I can't tell who anyone is!' complaint is a common one for HBO war dramas. Both Band of Brothers and Generation Kill (which were both excellent) basically plopped its audience down in a jargon-heavy large ensemble (which are mostly white men in identical fatigues) with little to no exposition whatsoever. I personally like it because both those series have compelling and immediately recognisable central characters that manage to carry the interest of the audience even as they're sitting there wondering who background guy no. 1 and no. 2 are. I personally really like this approach because it's clever TV that doesn't spoon feed you exposition. It assumes that you're an active viewer and that you'll be paying attention.

    But I do agree that to an extent, The Pacific suffers because it lacks someone compelling to hook you into the drama immediately. And that it also lacks the same sense of camaraderie (take a drink for war movie cliché no. 1!) that's so palpable and carefully built up between Easy Company and Bravo Company in Band of Brothers and Generation Kill. I don't know if you guys have seen the whole series? but from the 5th and 6th episodes onwards, I feel that the newly introduced 3rd main character Eugene Sledge (who appeared in first episode but couldn't go because of a heart murmur) and his company have interactions between various ranks: privates to squad leaders to gunnery sergeants to lieutenants etc. that allows you to believe in a greater military structure radiating outwards and therefore makes the device of having the company/platoon/individual soldier's struggles stand in for those of the greater war they're fighting in much more resonant than what we get in the first 4? episodes.

    But yeah, 4 whole episodes of not-so-brilliant stuff is well, not what you'd expect from something that costs $20 mil. an episode. I would be interested in seeing how many of the people comparing it unfavourably to Band of Brothers actually watched that series week by week as it first screened though. Because I don't think that's the 10 hours of uniform brilliance that people seem to retroactively label it as. Episodes 3-5 (Carentan – Replacements – Crossroads) experience much of the same problems that The Pacific seems to be having. (Carentan – lack of investment in the main POV character of the episode / Replacements – ditto – although following that character all the way through the miniseries makes this ep. more interesting on rewatch / Crossroads – poorly conveyed passage of time). But it did have the dreamy Damien Lewis as Dick Winters, the central lynchpin of the whole thing.

    Imma gonna stop writing now. I clearly am over-invested in the quality of HBO war miniseries (but usually they're so good, they totally justify it!)

  3. Oh, as to why they made it now. I do think that in the producer's minds, it's principally to tell the stories of the marines who served in the Pacific Theatre. I remember hearing that even as Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg (Spanks) were making Band of Brothers (in like 1999-2000? Well before Sept 11 anyway) they wanted to make a companion drama focusing on the PTO because 1. it's so under-represented in the wide genre of movies/TV about WW2, and 2. Spielberg's father served in the PTO. And then it took 10 years to get the story ready (because they're big on the oral history and there hasn't been a particular story about a soldier whose participation in the pacific could cover all the big points in the American engagements there: Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa etc. Hence the 3 leads. Band of Brothers on the other hand gave them the continuity to go from Normandy to Battle of the Bulge to Germany to Concentration Camps to Hitler's Eagle Nest all while staying with the same company of guys.

    (Although, if you're pissed at the way the Americans are valorised as the only people fighting, Band of Brothers does it even worse because that starts on D-Day 1944 and runs through to 1945. 5 whole years of the war are, by necessity of the story's purpose, ignored! No wonder they were so elite – they trained for 3 bloody years in the safety of the US!)

    Anyway yeah, I don't think they were consciously affected by the current US military situation to make this patriotic thing in response. But they do tend to view WW2 through the lens of 'The Greatest Generation' idea so I can see why it comes off as glorified or sanitised to some. Spanks say they make their war stuff for the veterans first and foremost so they were never going to offer critiques on the war. Instead they do it with an old fashioned respect that probably seems hopelessly outdated but when you're focusing on individual stories rather than the broader political environment of the time (internments/POW camps/Gen MacArthur being an ass) then it's kind of hard to be critically incisive about soldiers who are basically drafted civilians with only a few months of training in warfare. I agree with John? who said that it could do with a bit more focus on the individuals though and not be too worried about covering all its historical bases. Or trying to educate its audience about the whole PTO, which the annoying Hanks voice-overs seem to be doing.

  4. I watched the first two episodes of The Pacific and I was prepared to hold off my opinion until ep 3 (you know rule of three 🙂 and I was bored (really a whole episode about marines boofing melbourne girls?) and kind of offended (really a whole episode about marines boofing melbourne girls?).

  5. 🙂 also i dig this blog http://www.scoutingny.com/ which is pics from a New York location scout 🙂 if anyone else is interested.

  6. Thanks for that, Kat. I love that blog.

    I really could have spoken to Drew for hours. I think location scouting is a fascinating part of behind the scenes preparation.

  7. Wow, Alice. You really know a lot about war dramas.

    Personally, I learnt a lot more from your comments than from the three episodes of The Pacific. Thanks for your input.

  8. I'm considering just ceasing to watch American 1st and 2nd World War movies and television; they only ever anger me. I'm sick of seeing Canadian, British, Australian and French soldiers turned into Americans for the sake of pleasing the audience. If you learn only from television, one could easily forget how late the yanks joined both wars and instead think that they were the only ones who saw combat.IT is the consumption of these historical inaccurasies that leads to interweb trolls saying “If it wrnt'' dfpr us youdd speek germna!” (That is not a comment on American intelligence, I like the sane Americans and placate the insane ones in the hopes that they will never attempt to carpet bomb my home country for water.) I'm a bit of a history buff and come from a military family, so I spend much of my time screaming at war dramas saying “That's not how it happened!”
    But, the bottom line is, it doesn't matter what you guys or I or indeed any other 'foreigner' thinks; this is an exercise in propaganda, and that's it.
    I share your wonder that they are even releasing this to a world market- we can make our own propaganda, thanks.

  9. Ha, sorry for exploding all over your comment section like that. I think I needed to hash out some of my own issues with the show because on the one hand this type of series was made for me and I want to love it (even though I don't). But even though I can completely see where everyone who doesn't like it is coming from, I sort of still want to defend it (as verbosely as possible)?

  10. A.K.A.Mum says:

    Just curious if Canadians do make their own war movies/tv shows? I'd be interested in seeing their perspective.

    Two Australian ones that come to mind immediately for me are the film Gallipoli by Peter Weir (especially as tomorrow is ANZAC Day) and the miniseries Changi from a few years back.

    I haven't had a chance to watch any of The Pacific yet but by the sound of it it can sit on the backburner until I have more time in about, oh, 17 years.

    And thanks, Catbrain, now I have Six Ribbons as an earworm. *sigh*

  11. This is hilarious (and Pacific-related):
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/tom-hanks-forc

  12. Wow! Someone makes a joke about Ch7 not letting a show find an audience!

    And the Bounce is now on 'hiatus'
    http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-r

  13. We do, and some are quite good. The modern television tends to focus on peacekeeping missions, and usually have excellent themes about interdependence and the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking, which can be fascinating to watch. The films are usually similar.
    The Devil's Brigade and Passchendaelcome to mind- two that were actually financially succesful as well as good. TDB focused on the first Special Ops unit ever liberating Italy (a joint task force of Canadians and Americans) in WW1 and Passchendaele on a neurosthenic (shell shocked) soldier returning to Calgary and falling in love with a nurse of German descent before returning to the front for the bloody mess of Passchendaele. It has racism, colonialism, substance abuse, a melodrama of a love story and Paul Gross- it's pretty good. The other film that comes to mind (TBD is a telefilm) is the movie version of Le Guerre, Yes Sir!, a famous memoir about the experiences of québecois soldiers in the anglophone British army of WW1.
    I suppose the perspective is quite different from American or British movies, being that Canadian troops sustained some of the heaviest casualties, as the Brits had a tendency to plunk them into some of the heaviest fighting with little training and less supplies (see Ridge, Vimy and Ypres, Battles of) and had no strategic control, as well as the fact that almost the entire eastern half of the country had at some point emigrated from Britain and France, and the Prairie provinces and British Columbia were being farmed and logged by recent emigrants from the Austro-Hungarian empire and Germany.
    Sorry, Im a geek.

  14. We do, and some are quite good. The modern television tends to focus on peacekeeping missions, and usually have excellent themes about interdependence and the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking, which can be fascinating to watch. The films are usually similar.
    The Devil's Brigade and Passchendaelcome to mind- two that were actually financially succesful as well as good. TDB focused on the first Special Ops unit ever liberating Italy (a joint task force of Canadians and Americans) in WW1 and Passchendaele on a neurosthenic (shell shocked) soldier returning to Calgary and falling in love with a nurse of German descent before returning to the front for the bloody mess of Passchendaele. It has racism, colonialism, substance abuse, a melodrama of a love story and Paul Gross- it's pretty good. The other film that comes to mind (TBD is a telefilm) is the movie version of Le Guerre, Yes Sir!, a famous memoir about the experiences of québecois soldiers in the anglophone British army of WW1.
    I suppose the perspective is quite different from American or British movies, being that Canadian troops sustained some of the heaviest casualties, as the Brits had a tendency to plunk them into some of the heaviest fighting with little training and less supplies (see Ridge, Vimy and Ypres, Battles of) and had no strategic control, as well as the fact that almost the entire eastern half of the country had at some point emigrated from Britain and France, and the Prairie provinces and British Columbia were being farmed and logged by recent emigrants from the Austro-Hungarian empire and Germany.
    Sorry, Im a geek.

  15. Bloody hell! And after listening to the episode, I was thinking about tuning in. Nice one, 7. *shakes head*

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