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Canberra Today 15°/20° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Sky high drama as fighter pilots take to the air

Masters of the Air… the story of the 100th Bomb Group, a unit tasked with aerial bombardment of Germany in 1943.

Streaming columnist NICK OVERALL previews a World War II blockbuster drama series about awe-inspiring flight missions that are put to the screen in heart-pounding detail.

In the opening minutes of the new war drama series Masters of the Air, viewers meet a plucky young group of bomber pilots in a quiet bar teasing one another about seeing combat over cocktails. 

Nick Overall.

Minutes later they’re plummeting through the clouds 20,000 feet above war-torn Germany, the wings of their planes aflame and desperate screams to “pull up” ringing through one another’s headsets.

It’s a brutally stark transition and a fitting one for this new blockbuster streaming on Apple TV Plus set in the skies of World War II.

Masters of the Air follows the story of the 100th Bomb Group, a unit tasked with aerial bombardment of Germany in 1943 or as one of the pilots themselves eloquently puts it in the show, “bombing those Nazi f***s”.

The unit would eventually earn the nickname “The Bloody Hundredth” due to the heavy casualties across their combat missions. Those missions are put to screen here in awe-inspiring and heart-pounding detail over nine episodes. 

There’s a staggering amount of cinematic spectacle for a production put to the small screen. That’s courtesy of executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who many will know as the duo who teamed up for the modern war classic Saving Private Ryan.

There’s no shortage of talent in front of the camera either, with Elvis star Austin Butler up front and centre alongside Barry Keoghan, Callum Turner and even a star turn from Sawyer Spielberg – the son of Steven.

Masters of the Air’ also features as a companion show to 2001’s Band of Brothers and 2010’s The Pacific (able to be streamed on Binge).

Both of those miniseries were also produced by Hanks and Spielberg and explored battles on land and at sea during World War II. Masters of the Air

now rounds off this impressive trilogy by sending blockbuster TV to soaring new heights

 

CULTS have become quite the fascination for the modern TV watcher.

From Netflix’s lauded doco Wild Wild Country to Binge’s drama show The Vow, to the many series which have promised to pull back the curtain on the Church of Scientology.

What is it about suspicious sects that audiences find so alluring?

Well Stan is tapping into these dark curiosities with its new show Prosper, a drama series that follows the leader of a megachurch called U Star who wants to expand the reach of his evangelical empire from Australia to the US.

You need a mighty performer indeed to make a premise like that work. Luckily, Prosper has it in the form of Rake star Richard Roxburgh who turns on a sinister charm as Cal Quinn indeed.

“Hallelujah!” he proclaims on stage in the show’s opening scene, not in response to some divine intervention, but rather after seeing his own figure enlarged 10 times over on a gigantic LED screen behind him. 

The show is fascinated with the way technology is used to draw people into modern evangelical gospel. U Star is no church made up of wooden pews or stained glass windows, but rather laser lights and blaring speakers.

This corporatisation of faith becomes more unhinged as the eight episodes unfold with Quinn and his pentecostal entourage falling deeper into sin as they look to expand U Star across the globe.

And while Prosper is “entirely fictional”, one needn’t look far in the real world to see just where the inspiration for this disquieting series comes from.

Roxburgh is backed up with a talented cast which includes Rebecca Gibney, Ewen Leslie, Hayley McCarthy, Ming-Zhu Hii and Jacob Collins-Levy, most of whom play Quinn’s family who each have their own ideas on the future of the church and their place in its hierarchy.

The result is a compelling Aussie series that many have called “Hillsong meets Succession”. Sign me up! 

Actually… I take that back.

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Nick Overall

Nick Overall

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