This HBO miniseries gives a voice to the camaraderie of soldiers while avoiding the pitfall of making war a glorious, clean pursuit where everyone is a hero. “Band of Brothers” and its following of Easy Company makes sure to include the fears of the soldiers, the dichotomies of personalities and the prejudices, all which make the show a strong, cohesive story. By illuminating the humanity behind the soldiers and not just the battles, HBO creates TV that should not be ignored. Cold radiates from the screen into your bones during the “Bastogne” episode, conveying the sheer desperation of the men as well as the harsh environment in which they fight for their survival.
The rise of an American president doesn’t quite draw the interest in modern days as much as when it tackles a president from the past as “John Adams” does. The conviction and philosophy of Adams played within the birth of the new republic is a stunning portrayal that avoids polish for the more interesting warts and self-doubts of the people involved. Being brought to task for a mistake is never enjoyable but when the person giving you that helpful lesson is Benjamin Franklin as in the “Independence” episode, it carries a hefty dramatic weight.
Intangible boundaries of class and culture push back with solid force during the Great Depression in “Mildred Pierce." With performances that tear at your heart, particularly the interactions between Mildred and her daughter Veda, this HBO miniseries makes drama actually dramatic and captures your interest without any giant explosions or hobo serial killers. Opening night of Mildred’s restaurant in “Part 3” is fascinating in the depth and the perspective of how Mildred has arranged her business as well as the tiny little events that occur during the opening.
“Angels in America”
Entwining lives around the disease of AIDS, “Angels in America” gives the true power to the individuals and not the spectre of death that looms over them. Whether you have been touched by this disease or not, this miniseries makes you care about the heartbreak and the soul searching in all the characters as it exposes both the wonders and the failures of the lives of the people in the thick of this difficult subject. Harper and Joe’s marriage, hallucinations and all, make for a performance that is so askew from the norm that it’s truly a stunning work of deception and tepid love.
“From the Earth to the Moon”
Space travel does not promote mediocrity as it either has stellar successes or abject, tragic failures. “From the Earth to the Moon” captures one of the high points in American, and world, history as the competition is on for those that would dare to break free from the Earth’s constraints to truly soar above. In “The Original Wives Club”, the women behind the men get their due as to the stress and work they put into their family life in order to keep their husbands free of stress that could hurt them in their challenge to be flight ready.