It’s been about eight and a half years since HBO premiered the miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, but I remember deleting Band of Brothers off my TiVo as if it was yesterday. I didn’t delete it because I didn’t like it, I never got around to watching it and knew I wasn’t going to.
Back around the time it premiered I had a “real job,” and it was a pretty stressful job that was about to get more stressful. I was relieving the stress by going to the ballpark a lot and watching Barry Bonds hit home runs into the bay. I don’t really care whether you hate Barry Bonds or not, watching him mash home runs over a 25′ wall into the San Francisco Bay with 42,000 or so other people was fun as hell. That was the year he hit 73 home runs and broke the then three year old single-season record.
The day that Band of Brothers premiered was a pretty good day as I recall. Unfortunately, a couple of days later wasn’t such a great day because a couple of days later was September 11, 2001.
Band of Brothers started to pile up on the TiVo and the hard drive on the TiVos in those days weren’t so big so ultimately I deleted it. I wasn’t in the mood for watching a miniseries about World War 2 at the time.
About a month ago I was perusing HBO On Demand and I noticed Band of Brothers, and the first three episodes were available. I wound up watching them back-to-back-to-back and since then I’ve been watching as they add new episodes every week and have now watched seven out of the ten episodes.
So far, I absolutely love it. The production quality is pretty amazing.
The cast, especially for someone who watches a lot of TV, is a real treat. A younger version of Damien Lewis who I enjoyed so much on Life.
There’s Michael Cudlitz from Southland and Richard Speight Jr. who was Bill on Jericho (and the “Trickster” on Supernatural) and the actor who plays a Colonel, Dale Dye also once appeared on Chuck as a General (Dye was also a real life enlisted Marine who ultimately retired as a Captain and the “Daddy D.A.” character in the movie “Full Metal Jacket” is based on Dye).
Fringe fans will recognize Kirk Acevedo. It’s a huge cast and just combing through IMDB to see everything else they’ve worked on would probably kill a couple of hours.
If you’ve never seen it, and have HBO On Demand (or Netflix, etc), I recommend giving it a look.
After writing the above I was curious about how the show rated back in 2001 and wound up digging up an article in The New York Times about how Hollywood handled the on-screen portrayal of soldiers following September 11. The numbers were impressive, both before and after 9/11:
Since the release of Steven Spielberg’s ”Saving Private Ryan” in the summer of 1998, American popular culture has been in the midst of what might be called a ”Greatest Generation” cycle, celebrating the sacrifices and achievements of American soldiers in World War II in films as well as in best sellers by Tom Brokaw and Stephen E. Ambrose. The cycle was to reach its apotheosis this fall with the release of the mini-series adaptation of Mr. Ambrose’s ”Band of Brothers,” the most expensive and ambitious project in HBO history.
It was that mini-series’s fate to have its two-hour premiere on Sept. 9, thus providing the first concrete example of how the terrorist attacks may have changed Americans’ perceptions of men in uniform and their appetite for war dramas.
The heavily promoted premiere drew about 10 million viewers around the country, but when the terrorists struck two days later, HBO decided to halt the mini-series’s marketing campaign immediately out of sensitivity to the effect such images might have. But the next episode, on Sept. 16, still drew 7.3 million viewers, a hefty number for HBO, especially in light of the lack of advertising. And figures for subsequent episodes (through Oct. 7, the most recent date for which information is available) have hovered just above six million, which an HBO spokesman said was roughly equivalent to what the network had drawn for regular series like ”Six Feet Under” and ”Sex and the City.”