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Published by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. CLICK FOR NEWSPAPER DELIVERY
Sunday, September 9, 2001

Hanks and Spielberg produce ‘Band of Brothers’

HBO movie follows a group of soldiers throughout their involvement in WWII

Dare I say that HBO’s new 10-hour mini-series "Band of Brothers" needs to be longer?
   After watching eight of those harrowing hours in succession, I do wish producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg had done one thing differently in their colossal recounting of World War II: more character development, please.
   "Band of Brothers" (8 p.m. tonight), based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s best selling novel, follows a group of soldiers throughout America’s involvement in World War II. But the series focuses on too many of the outfit’s members.
   It picks out a clear protagonist in Lt. Winters (Damian Lewis), but the writers tried to force too many characters into too little space. And it doesn’t help that the majority of the cast is unknown actors and hardly distinguishable from each other. But more on that later.
   The vexing series comes across realistically at feature-film quality; most of it was filmed at London’s former Hatfield Aerodrome, where much of Hanks’ and Spielberg’s "Saving Private Ryan" was shot.
   While many of the actors were inexperienced, they portrayed a group of men who were also inexperienced, and the actors do a competent job. Yes, former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg has a part (he plays Lipton, for those who won’t recognize him), but as mentioned before, it’s tough to tell him apart from most of the other faces beneath the helmets.
   Battlefields setting
   Other series have made the same mistake of trying to fit too much into too little, but when your setting is war battlefields, you need to be even more careful. Camouflage starts running into everything, and before you know it, everybody looks alike. Had Hanks and Spielberg focused on three less characters, the project would have been more easily digested.
   But aside from that, "Band of Brothers" is majestic in stature and story. It stands tall as an achievement in made-for-cable film (alongside Hanks’ other HBO project, "From the Earth to the Moon"), and even if some people are ripping into the entertainment industry for making too many war-set films, this one tells a story that needs to be told.
   Each episode starts with interviews from real-life Easy Company members, and the transition from the now-elderly men who fought in Europe to the young men who are portraying them was done exceedingly well. It rooted each segment in a haunting reality that reminds you that we should never stop learning from what happened.
   "Band of Brothers" will feature two hour-long episodes at 8 p.m. each Sunday starting tonight.
  
   Other highlights this week include:
   Sunday
   8 p.m. on Pax: THE PONDEROSA "Bonanza" (1959-73) has been given new life on the Pax network, and now comes this prequel to the classic western. The new series stars Matt Carmody as Adam Cartwright; Daniel Hugh Kelly as Ben; Jared Daperis as Little Joe; and Drew Powell as Hoss.
   8 p.m. on Court TV: GHOSTS OF ATTICA The wounds from the 1971 revolt at the state prison in Attica, N.Y., never fully healed. In retaking the prison, state troopers fired 2,200 bullets and killed 29 inmates and 10 guards. This new documentary focuses on an inmate, a guard and a lawyer who have been seeking justice. Shown on the 30th anniversary of the start of the uprising.
   Monday
   7 p.m. on PBS: THREE MO’ TENORS IN CONCERT Specials like this have become reliable fund-raisers for PBS, so you can be sure that a new one means pledge breaks. Tonight’s tenors — Rodrick Dixon, Thomas Young and Victor Trent Cook — offer a wide range of music.
   7 p.m. on E!: THE TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY Still popular in reruns, "Cheers" will be joining the Nick at Nite lineup next month. This program offers stories behind the sitcom. Followed at 10 p.m. by a profile of Kelsey Grammer.
   7:30 p.m. on UPN: ONE ON ONE This new comedy series stars Flex Alexander and Kyla Pratt as a newly reunited divorced father and his "spirited" teenage daughter.
   Tuesday
   8 p.m. on CBS: THE LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS The second annual ceremony, live from Los Angeles, will honor recording artists and others in 39 categories. Scheduled performers include Juanes, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz and Thalia.
   9 p.m. on HBO: THE MIND OF THE MARRIED MAN Three male friends in Chicago take contrasting approaches to trying to make their marriages work. This new comedy series is certain to invite comparison to HBO’s female-oriented "Sex and the City," and seems to promise a similar quota of sexual content.
   Wednesday
   9 p.m. on CBS: WOLF LAKE Wolves take human form and blend in with their neighbors in a suburb of Seattle; this may have something to do with the fact that people there are disappearing in alarming numbers. The cast of this new sci-fi series includes Graham Greene, Tim Matheson, Lou Diamond Phillips and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
   Thursday
   8 p.m. on HBO: REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL Tonight’s show includes correspondent Derek McGinty talking with Penn State football coach Joe Paterno about last year’s difficult season and the team’s efforts to bounce back.
   7 p.m. on NBC: FRIENDS Speculation persists that the marriage of Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) is not a good move for the show. Here’s a repeat of last season’s finale — and another chance to ponder that question. (The wedding festivities will continue with next week’s season premiere.)
   Friday
   7 p.m. on Fox: THE X-FILES Coincidence or conspiracy? The 1998 movie based on the series makes its broadcast premiere in the series’ old time slot. And is Mulder (David Duchovny), now just a memory in the series, still likely to resurface in a future film?
   7 p.m. on A&E: BIOGRAPHY Connie Francis, the 1960s singing star whose life took a terrible turn after she was raped in a Long Island motel in 1974, is profiled. Followed at 9 p.m. by another episode, about young songwriters such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King who flourished during the ‘60s.
   7 p.m. on TNT: BIG MOVIES OF THE ’70S "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977, starring Richard Dreyfuss) starts a weekend devoted to popular movies of the decade.
   Saturday
   7 p.m. on TNT: GREASE TNT’s ‘70s includes with this musical, set in the ‘50s and one of John Travolta’s early successes. The best-known songs, such as "You’re the One That I Want," were not in the Broadway original.
  
   Contact pop culture/media critic Ricardo Baca at 886-3688 or bacar@caller.com
  
  


Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688 or by e-mail at bacar@caller.com


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