Band of Brothers: Currahee   First Watch 
June 2, 2014 4:25 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Easy Company prepares for D-Day. We flash back to their training in Georgia and England and meet the cast of characters.
posted by asterix (20 comments total)
Now that it's available on Amazon streaming, I'm finally sitting down and watching. I'd prefer to keep spoilers for future episodes limited in case there are others in the same boat.

Scattered thoughts:

- David Schwimmer really is outstanding as Sobel, even if it is a little hard to tell sometimes just why he's such a dick.
- Holy cow, so many recognizable faces in the cast. (Simon Pegg was probably the most surprising, for his split-second.)
- The final scene, with all of the planes headed over the Channel, is really outstanding. Thank god the writers didn't feel the need to add any voiceover.
posted by asterix at 4:41 PM on June 2, 2014

Did you spot Michael Fassbender?
posted by biffa at 5:10 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just rewatched BoB before and over Memorial Day weekend (coincidentally, actually), and it really holds up for me. I just love it, and the characters make it for me: I become so invested in so many of them.

Currahee is great in that it's a good introduction not just to the individuals but to the team and the internal cohesion that binds them (and eventually strains, but that's for another episode...).

I agree completely that the planes over the Channel is just absolutely terrific.
posted by The Michael The at 5:20 PM on June 2, 2014

I don't have enough of a picture of Fassbender in my head to have recognized him. Which character was he?
posted by asterix at 5:31 PM on June 2, 2014

One of the things that bugged me about the TWoP recaps of BoB were A) Jacob's eccentric style, but more importantly B) he didn't understand jack diddly about the weapons, and repeatedly confused machine guns with artillery pieces.

Okay, I get it, it's a niche of knowledge that some people take pride in not knowing, and other people just never get the chance to learn. Fortunately, now there's the Internet Movie Firearms Database which, like its spiritual cousin IMDB, does not restrict itself to just cinema, and which includes pictures of the weapons used but also screenshots of them in use in the series, as well as descriptions of their roles in the war as reflected by the show. (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS IN THE PICTURES)

No longer will you be confusing an MG-42 (mountable "crew served" 2-man machine gun) with an MP-40 (submachine gun), or the Bazooka with the Panzerschreck.

Missing are the artillery pieces that are useful to know for "Day of Days" and "The Breaking Point" parts 1&2, but as I recall it's all 44s and 88s, which are named for the diameter of their bores, in millimeters. You could correctly deduce that 88s are more powerful and dangerous than 44s.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:55 PM on June 2, 2014

Currahee is the only BoB episode I have never seen. By the time I discover some cable channel is showing the series, I've missed the first ep.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:44 PM on June 2, 2014

David Schwimmer really is outstanding as Sobel,

I agree. Schwimmer is such a magnificent asshole.
posted by donajo at 6:50 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

On top of all the other superlatives you can trot out about "Currahee," this was the first glimpse most of us in the US had of the thoroughly fantastic and wondrous Damian Lewis.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:08 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Schwimmer is brilliant at playing an out-of-depth shithead; I absolutely love the scene where they are out on a field exercise, and the camera just holds for a minute on the landscape and then his head pops out, all sweaty and nervous looking, like some kind of freaked out gopher. Cracks me up. He has a face/physical build that just lends itself to portraying an insecure, uncertain man in so many ways.

But really, it's an excellent portrayal of a man who doesn't know how to lead - he's excellent at the planning and organizing, but his tough as nails shit only lasts so long; it welds the men into an excellent unit in the face of his adversity, but it leaves him on the outside and he can't figure out how to get back in. The moment after the spaghetti lunch when he makes them run Currahee and they start singing and he stands there confused tells you everything you need to know. A true commander at that moment would have fallen in either behind or in front of them and starting singing along, ended the berating, abusive shit, and begun working with them instead of feeling that always being against them indicated some type of leadership strength.

Anyways, had completely forgotten about Simon Pegg being in this, even briefly.
posted by nubs at 8:20 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've watched this a couple of times over the years. Good setup episode overall.

What made me laugh was the post-spaghetti lunch run because it reminded me of Happy Hour at Great Lakes when I was a boot. (Happy Hour was a punishment drill/exercise/mindfuck session for transgressors of the force-fed military regimen that is basic training/boot camp. The one time I was lucky to attend began with endless loops of the 64 count manual using ancient (and heavy) Springfield rifles and ended with laps around the massive drill hall. They didn't send us back to our respective barracks until guys started upchucking during the run.

Realism, lol.
posted by CincyBlues at 8:40 PM on June 2, 2014

> That said, be wary of the follow up a decade later, The Pacific.

Yeah, its source material was much weaker overall, and having three character arcs was nothing at all like a joined unit like BoB's Easy Company.

I read recently that the modern understanding of "blood is thicker than water" is backwards from its original meaning, which is something like "the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb;" the bond of friendship forged in battle is thicker than that of the bond of mere family. BoB is just the sort of material that came to mind when I learned that. Meanwhile in The Pacific, the 3 men each had approximately 2 friends or family members or both to interact with at any given time; they could've been fighting in 3 different wars for all their ties together.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:37 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

BoB when it first aired was for me about routine and stability and friendship. I went over to my buddy's place that first Sunday to watch the first two back to back episodes because he had cable and I didn't. We cut across his neighbor's back yard to the supermarket and brought back a six pack and settled in for a few hours of not talking about our own feelings. Credits roll and I knew we'd be doing this every week until it was over.

Two days later September 11th happened. Instead of just Sundays, I was over his place every day to watch the news because there really was nothing else for us to do, but wait to hear who we knew that died. I don't remember anything from that time period. What I thought, who I talked to, where I went. I only remember the series starting back up really quickly, because we were all deliberately trying to carry on and return to normal. I remember going over there every Sunday and I remember every episode.
posted by danny the boy at 11:29 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Damian Lewis really caught my attention in Band of Brothers. Even with as big and sprawling a cast as this one, he really stood out as Dick Winters. He brought such a great sense of stillness to the role.

And yeah, 3+ viewings in, and Band of Brothers really holds up. Though I have to admit, I still have trouble keeping everyone's names and faces straight. There are a lot of brown-haired white dudes in uniform to keep track of, I have to keep a character list open to keep track of everyone who isn't Nixon, Winters, or Sobel.
posted by yasaman at 1:03 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but one of my favorite parts of the series was the interviews with the actual soldiers at the end of the episodes, because hey, he makes it out alive! The saddest part of the series becomes, hey, why didn't they interview so and so? And then you just hope that he died after the war, peacefully, in his home.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:14 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of the things that bugged me about the TWoP recaps of BoB were A) Jacob's eccentric style, but more importantly B) he didn't understand jack diddly about the weapons, and repeatedly confused machine guns with artillery pieces.

a) that was Heathen, not Jacob recapping
b) the show could get pretty hard to follow in a hurry if one wasn't familiar with the unit or the military in general. A few episodes in, she went and got the book.

Also, if anyone has a chance, the DVD extras are a treat.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:28 AM on June 4, 2014

I think one reason that The Pacific doesn't get as many plaudits as it might is because it is essentially an anti-war movie at it's core. Naturally, it suffers in comparison with the more "feel good" BoB.
posted by CincyBlues at 4:57 PM on June 4, 2014

Not too long after I watched BoB (didn't miss an episode and that was before pvrs etc) the original Call of Duty (totally unlike all its lock-step sequels) came out and I was probably amongst the few to play it first here. I was unaware how close the episodes were to the BoB ones, and I played out Carentan and the one where they assaulted the anti-tank guns as if I was playing a part in the series.

I have the box set of BoB sitting in my library, waiting to be rewatched in a different light.
posted by arzakh at 7:15 AM on June 6, 2014

I don't have enough of a picture of Fassbender in my head to have recognized him. Which character was he?

He was Christiansen, he gives the parachute tuition in this episode but is in quite a few later episodes too.
posted by biffa at 9:28 PM on June 6, 2014

The moment after the spaghetti lunch when he makes them run Currahee and they start singing and he stands there confused tells you everything you need to know.

I read that completely differently. I saw it as an unguarded moment when you could see how desperately Sobel wanted to prepare his men for combat and a dawning awareness that he was succeeding. It was a nice acting moment by Schwimmer.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:20 PM on June 6, 2014

Regarding "The Pacific," "With the Old Breed" by Eugene Sledge, which covers Peleliu and Okinawa, is far and away the best WWII memoir I've ever read, it is excellent, I've read it over and over despite its grimness. I didn't like "Helmet For My Pillow," the other source book, much at all. I wish they had stuck with the former as their guide. As they make clear, the Pacific war was really horrible compared to the American experience in Europe.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:02 PM on August 1, 2017

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