Eight-part saga ‘Long Road Home’ a stun­ning suc­cess.

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Bar­ney cbar­ney@ba­yare­anews­group.com

Whether it’s mere co­in­ci­dence, or an overt at­tempt by pro­gram­mers to court un­der­served view­ers, pa­tri­otic dra­mas pegged to mil­i­tary he­roes have popped up all over the broad­cast net­works this fall.

None of them, how­ever, can match the emo­tional oomph of “The Long Road Home,” a cap­ti­vat­ing — and har­row­ing — true story of brav­ery, love and sac­ri­fice.

Based on a best- seller by ABC News jour­nal­ist Martha Rad­datz and air­ing on the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Chan­nel, the eight-part minis­eries re­counts the in­ci­dents sur­round­ing an event in Iraq that came to be known as “Black Sun­day.”

In April 2004, a small pla­toon of Amer­i­can sol­diers from the 1st Cavalry Di­vi­sion was pa­trolling the streets of Sadr City, an im­pov­er­ished re­gion of Baghdad. They had no rea­son to sus­pect trou­ble. Sad­dam Hus­sein was dead, af­ter all, and nearly a year had passed since Pres­i­dent Bush de­liv­ered his “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished” speech. They were sim­ply in­volved with peace­keep­ing du­ties in an area con­sid­ered to be “the safest place in Iraq.”

“If there’s a gun go­ing off over there,” says Lt. Shane Aguero (E. J. Bonilla), “it’s prob­a­bly just some fool cel­e­brat­ing a Cow­boys game.”

But on that fate­ful day, all hell sud­denly broke loose. The pla­toon was am­bushed by a group of in­sur­gents fir­ing from rooftops, bal­conies and back al­leys. Af­ter a fran­tic gun­fight, the ill- equipped sol­diers some­how man­aged to take refuge in a res­i­dence. But they were trapped there with­out GPS track­ing and forced to wait it out for res­cue con­voys to ar­rive.

Well-paced and hand­somely crafted, “The Long Road Home”

keeps you on edge dur­ing the ten­sion- filled gun­bat­tles in Iraq. But the show’s most in­deli­ble achieve­ment is the way it im­merses view­ers in the heads and hearts of not only the sol­diers, but the spouses and chil­dren anx­iously wait­ing for news back home in Fort Hood, Texas.

Through a se­ries of deft flash­backs, we truly get to know these char­ac­ters as peo­ple. Their panic and des­per­a­tion is deeply felt. And as we watch from the com­fort of our couches, we’re re­minded once again of the strug­gles and sac­ri­fices that mil­i­tary fam­i­lies con­front on a daily ba­sis.

“The Long Road Home” fea­tures only a hand­ful of rec­og­niz­able ac­tors — in­clud­ing Ja­son Rit­ter, Jeremy Sisto, Sarah Wayne Callies and Michael Kelly. But there are po­tent per­for­mances up and down the cast.

You get the sense that these ac­tors knew they were in­volved in some­thing in­cred­i­bly hon­or­able. So they dug deep and brought an ex­tra surge of pas­sion to their roles.

Their com­mit­ment cer­tainly shows.


Michael Kelly plays Lt. Col. Gary Volesky in “The Long Road Home.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.