National Geographic’s wartime miniseries The Long Road Home (based on a true story) debuted last Tuesday night and portrays the early days of the pushback on American intervention in the War in Iraq, most notably, the Siege of Sadr City. The battle began on a day that has become known as Black Sunday. It’s gritty portrayal of a mildly safe, peace mission to the desert world of Iraq descending into madness shows war in a way that I have not seen on the small screen in a while.
I hadn’t heard about this series up until a few days before it debuted, but after sitting down to catch the first two episodes, I’m glad I did.
As a little kid, I loved National Geographic. It’s the reason that I knew so much about animals (mainly lions), so I can appreciate having a channel on air that can allow us to learn while we get entertained. I believe that’s exactly what this series set out to do.
I knew two actors going into this, and to be honest, they’re the main reason I knew about the series to begin with: Michael J. Kelly and Noel Fisher.
Kelly is a House of Cards veteran who leads both a stellar cast and army unit as Lieutenant Colonel Gary Volesky, who is portrayed as the collected and focused leader in Sadr City. He has never lost a soldier in battle.
Fisher comes along as a different type of character. I knew his work from his turn as the blunt South Side thug with a secret relationship, Mickey Milkovich, in Showtime’s Shameless. On that show, he portrayed someone who is tough as nails on the outside but more considerate and guarded on the inside. I think his portrayal as Pfc Thomas Young in The Long Road Home lets him bring that more delicate side of his acting to the forefront. Young is shown as someone who has gone to war but hasn’t fully immersed himself in his atmosphere. He still holds on to shards of hope and pieces of the homeland, while others, understandably, seem to have lost their humanity.
The Long Road Home does an excellent job of showcasing the other side of the equation in all of those Oscar bait war movies we love: the side of the families that overseas soldier leaves behind. From Sarah Wayne Callies’ portrayal of a wife who’s husband is a seasoned soldier to Kate Bosworth’s Gina Denomy, a wife whose husband left her behind with a new baby, the second side of war is brought to light.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the National Geographic channel, tune into this show next week and the weeks after. The reality of war is something not many of us know, myself included. The people who choose to endure this on behalf of our nation should be thanked not just tomorrow on Veterans’ Day, but every single day that we wake up with the opportunity to live in a land where freedom still rings.
(I own no photos)