‘The Pacific’: The miniseries that’s anything but mini

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As the media continues revving up for HBO’s March 14 premiere of blockbuster “The Pacific” (reviewed here by Brian Lowry of Variety), I haven’t been able to shake my amusement that the 10-part, $200 gazillion project is being called a miniseries.

The pricetag isn’t the reason, though I concur with Lowry that I’m not sure the storytelling lives up to the production values. It’s the fact that it’s being called a miniseries even though it is longer than almost anything HBO does.

Here are the number of episodes in the most recent seasons of HBO shows that aren’t considered “mini”:

6 “Eastbound and Down”
6 “Little Britain USA”
7 “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”
8 “Bored to Death”
8 “How to Make It in America”
9 “Big Love”
10 “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
10 “Flight of the Conchords”
10 “Hung”
10 “The Life and Times of Tim”
10 “The Ricky Gervais Show”
12 “Entourage”
12 “True Blood”
35 “In Treatment”

Okay, admittedly, “Pacific” is no “In Treatment,” but it’s still at least as long as almost every HBO series in the past year. Spiritually, perhaps, “Pacific” belongs in the miniseries category, because it was conceived as a one-time venture. But considering all its muscle, you almost wonder if “maxiseries” is more appropriate.

“Pacific” will no doubt claim the lion’s share of miniseries-related Emmys, blowing away the competition like, I don’t know, the Marine Corps in World War II. But there is something a little odd about it getting a category almost all to itself, when in structure it is little different from “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” or “Friday Night Lights.”  There’s arguably more of a gap, numerically and spiritually, between those shows and their 20-or-more-episode broadcast network competition like “The Good Wife” or “Brothers and Sisters” than there is between those shows and “The Pacific.”

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