Movies of war are common place but television series and mini series are few and far between. The best mini series to deal with the pain and horror of war was Band of Brothers and the best series was the long running M*A*S*H.
M*A*S*H was based off the popular feature length motion picture M*A*S*H, that hit theaters in 1970 and was a scathing indictment of war, using the Korean conflict as the backdrop. The show was set in a M*A*S*H unit (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) in South Korea. M*A*S*H was a comedy but some of the story lines dealt with were far from funny.
Alan Alda, Mike Farrell and Wayne Rogers were just a few of the A list actors that worked on the show. Alda racked up five Emmy Awards for his work as Hawkeye, the wise cracking surgeon. M*A*S*H won 14 Emmy Awards in all during the shows 12 year run. It was also one of the highest rated television shows in the history of broadcast television.
Band of Brothers (2001)
In 2001 HBO broadcast a riveting ten-part series based on World War II, Band of Brothers. The series covered the trials and tribulations of E Company or Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion. The series follows Easy Company from their training in Georgia all the up until they capture Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
Band of Brothers was brought to HBO by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and the series was possibly the grittiest and most realistic telling of the horrors of war during the closing days of World War II. The Band of Brothers mini series set the new standard for all feature length movies that would later be shot and it spawned another HBO epic mini series, The Pacific nine years later.
Winds of War (1983)
Broadcast in 1983, The Winds of War set the standard for epic mini series with this high budget and extravagant homage to lives affected by World War II. The film was based on the novel of the same name written by author Herman Wouk. Wouk also agreed to write the screenplay for the television mini series.
The story begins six months before Hitler’s invasion of Poland and ends just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time when Winds of War was made it was the largest budget for a television mini series at the time, 35 million dollars. Robert Mitchum played the lead character “Pug” Victor Henry.
Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971)
Hogan’s Heroes was set in a NAZI prisoner of war camp must have been an interesting pitch to the CBS brass in 1965. Bob Crane played the wise cracking Colonel Robert Hogan a United States officer that is under the guard of a bumbling NAZI Colonel Wilhelm Klink and Sergeant Schultz. Schultz and Klink’s ineptness knows no bounds. The prisoners come and go as they please through an elaborate set of tunnels and the discipline in the POW Camp is non existent. The series ran six years and completed 168 episodes.
The Pacific (2010)
HBO did the impossible when it created The Pacific. The Pacific showed the most realistic portrayal of the most bitter and terrible conditions of World War II. Considered a companion to the Band of Brothers, the story mixed in some cases with the Band of Brothers such as the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. The executive producers were once again Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and The Pacific mini series swept through the Emmy Awards, winning 25 awards.