World War II has spawned many documentary series. Two of the series that have been out there are Crusade in the Pacific and the ultimate classic, Victory at Sea.
Crusade in the Pacific is a five-DVD set with numerous extras, including biographies of key players and battleground photos. Covering all aspects of the Pacific Theater, it provides solid narrative from Westbrook Van
Voorhis. That said, this series is somewhat bland, and matter of fact. This film relies solely on footage from the Department of Defense – both American and captured Japanese.
The result is a series that while generally accurate, is somewhat on the bland side. The soundtrack is not engaging, in fact, the soundtrack is nonexistent. This is compensated for by the newsreel-like feel, and the
extras, which include a quiz for each episode, and battleground photos. It is a solid series for use in a straight historical perspective.
Victory at Sea, on the other hand, focused on naval warfare all over the globe. This series went for presentation – and when Richard Rodgers is doing the soundtrack, one will be captivated by the soundtrack while sometimes missing some of the narrative. This classic series is great for holding the attraction of younger viewers (the reviewer has fond
memories of listening to the soundtrack on records as a kid).
That said, Victory at Sea has a couple of drawbacks. In some instances, movie footage and reenactments are used. It also tends to skim over things, as well. Often, the accuracy of some things can be a little off (for instance, in the episode “Midway is East”, the false impression
that the torpedo attack by Nautilus was successful is created – in reality, only one torpedo hit, and it did not explode).
Each of these series have strengths and weaknesses. In both cases, the strengths generally outweigh the weaknesses. Crusade in the Pacific is an effective matter of fact presentation backed by the nostalgic “newsreel” narration. Victory at Sea is a captivating presentation
backed by one of the finest score from a legendary composer and the narration of Leonard Graves. Both are fine additions to any DVD collection.