The world stopped this past June to note the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. The battle on June 6th, 1945 is to this day the biggest naval operation of the 20th century if not in history. While the battle is considered to be the beginning of the end of the war in Europe, it obviously wasn’t without its problems as has already been pointed out in PBS’ recently released programs Day of Days: June 6, 1944 and D-Day’s Sunken Secrets. Those programs, released just last month, both outline the work that was undertaken to make the Normandy invasion happen. They also help audiences to see that the events of June 6th were only part of the story of D-Day. Now in D–Day 360, the last of PBS’ trio of programs centered on the D-Day operations, viewers get one of the most comprehensive looks at the initial operation that has been seen yet.
D–Day 360 is a good finishing piece for PBS in its recently released trio of programs centered on the Normandy invasion. The primary reason that it is such a good finale to the series of programs is its in-depth graphical examination of the events that unfolded on D-Day. There are no re-enactments or anything of that nature. What viewers get in this program is a visual presentation that fully immerses them in the events of that day. It does so through the use of graphics that bring to life so to speak all the names and figures thrown out in so many documentaries before. From graphic depictions of just how far German shells could fly from the beaches to depictions of how far Allied planes overshot Normandy on their bombing run to cover the ground forces and more, D–Day 360 gives viewers a perspective like no other documentary before that has covered the Normandy invasion. Rather than just churning out a bunch of names and numbers, those names and numbers get their own life of sorts, making the impact of this knowledge even harder hitting. It really goes to show just how much PBS has surpassed the likes of History Channel now that that network has become little more than just another reality show network.
The graphic illustrations used through D–Day 360 are central to the overall enjoyment and success of the program. Thankfully, those behind this program’s creation used more than just computer generated illustrations to advance the program and keep viewers engaged throughout its roughly hour-long runtime. Also incorporated into this program are stories told first-hand from a handful of veterans that fought at Normandy. These veterans don’t seem to be the same veterans interviewed for PBS’ previous pair of programs centered on D-Day (say that one five times fast). Every interview is important. That is because every day, there are fewer veterans left to tell the countless stories of that terrible conflict. Their addition to this program adds even more depth to the overall presentation. The end result is a program that is even more informative and entertaining for audiences whether they be in a military studies class or simply a history class. Audiences don’t even have to be in school to appreciate the interviews. They can simply be history buffs or military history buffs.
The use of computer generated graphics combined with actual stories from veterans that fought at Normandy are both key factors to the overall presentation that is D–Day 360. By direct connection, the general lack of re-enactments in this program is subtle. But it adds so much to the presentation in whole. It shows that those responsible for bringing the program to the masses understood quite well that less is more mentality. They knew where to draw that line between enough and too much. It’s just one more way that PBs continues to show that it is the leader in true educational content while networks that once led the way (E.g. History Channel, TLC, etc.) have fallen by the wayside. This subtle but oh-so-important factor is the final piece to a presentation that any and every military history buff, history buff and teacher alike will appreciate.
D–Day 360 is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store. More information on this and other programs from PBS is available online via PBS’ official website and Facebook page. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog, too.