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Featured TV on Blu-ray Review: Patton 360: Season One

September 25th, 2010

Patton 360: Season One - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Patton 360 is a spin-off from Battle 360, which I just reviewed. I enjoyed Battle 360 enough to recommend buying the Blu-ray, even if you already had the DVD. However, will the producers strike gold twice, or does the novelty factor of the format wear off?

The Show

This review is going to be a little shorter than the previous one, as the two shows are nearly identical in format. Because of this, I'm going to concentrate more on comparing and contrasting the two shows and explaining where Patton 360 is superior to Battle 360 and vice versa.

Firstly, both shows ran for one season of ten episodes each. Patton 360 is able to fit all ten episodes on two discs, but Battle 360 needed three, as the episodes were longer by about 10 minutes each. The Battle 360 Blu-ray is also cheaper, so it is clearly the better deal in that regard.

Both shows are chronological looks at the key events of World War II, with Patton 360 focusing on the career of General George S. Patton. It Starts with his push to land in French Morocco to capture Casablanca, the capture of Tunisia, the Sicily campaign, his part in the deception of D-Day, his success in recapturing German conquered territory, setbacks, and finally the end of the war. It also uses archival footage and newly generated computer animation to create a unique look at these battles. While both shows take interviews with survivors of those battles, as well as interviews with modern military historians to show both a personal side and a big picture look at the war.

On the other hand, Patton 360 tends to spend more time talking about how battles like this would be handled by modern military forces than Battle 360 did. Perhaps this is because naval warfare is nearly unrecognizable compared to how it was handled in World War II. In fact, they mention during the episode on Battle of Leyte Gulf that it was the last time two battleships fired upon each other. The United States had more than 200 ships in that one battle. In comparison, today Turkey has the fifth largest navy in the world, and it has less than 200 ships in total. The United States had 34 carriers of various sizes in that one battle. I don't think there are 34 carriers in all the world's navies combined. On the other hand, as long as there is warfare, you will need infantry and armored divisions. The technology may change, but land battles like this will never disappear, so it is easier to compare the historical battles to their modern equivalents.

(Speaking of modern equivalents, I can't believe the A-10 Warthog is still in service.)

Patton 360 doesn't feel as Jingoistic, perhaps because when you are dealing with infantry, it is harder to be are gung ho, as the fighting is on a much more personal level. Seeing an enemy ship blow up isn't as visceral an experience as seeing an infantryman die. This is absolutely a point in this show's favor. On the other hand, it also means the show doesn't benefit quite as much from the computer animation. Having big battleships involved in naval battles just looks cooler.

This show does have the same stylistic problems, plus it feels more repetitive than Battle 360 does. Seeing the same tank destroyed by a mine in the same way over an over again is not exciting. However, paying to have the same tank destroyed in a different way each time probably doesn't make much sense.

Overall, fans of World War II in general and of Battle 360 in particular should really like this show. I don't think Patton 360 is as good as Battle 360 is, but it is close enough.

The Extras

Unfortunately, there are no extras on this two-disc set. Like the previous release, the video is mixed. The new material shines, but the archival footage doesn't fare as well. The sound is stronger than the video is and it is quite immersive. However, the Blu-ray costs $37 compared to $22 for the DVD, which is quite a premium to be asked to pay.

The Verdict

Patton 360: Season One doesn't utilize the computer animated reenactments as well as Battle 360 does, but it is still worth checking out for fans of World War II shows. The lack of extras hurts the value of the Blu-ray, which is pricey compared to the DVD. For fans of the genre it is worth picking up, but if you have the earlier release, stick with that one.

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