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Best bets: ‘The Pacific’ theater gets its due

This week: HBO launches long-awaited series about the Pacific side of World War II. Also: "Green Zone" hits theaters; "Precious," "Up in the Air" come to DVD.
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In HBO's acclaimed "Band of Brothers," which aired back in 2001, the focus was on the European theater of World War II. Now "The Pacific" gives the other warriors their due. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are among the producers of this 10-part miniseries, based mainly on Eugene Sledge's "With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa" and Robert Leckie's "Helmet on My Pillow." Executive producer Gary Goetzman told TV Guide, "(The war in Europe) was fought in civilization, in towns and villages that were similar to the hometowns of the American soldiers. But the war against Japan was all about sand and blood and fear." If you have any sense of history, and especially if you have a vet in your life, you don't want to miss this one. (March 14, 9 p.m., HBO.)

TV Guide calls "Sons of Tucson" a "bizarro world version of "My Three Sons." Tyler Labine, whose goofy Sock was the best part of the underrated "Reaper," stars as a guy who's paid by three kids to stand in for their jailed dad. That plot could work or fail spectacularly, and every viewer has a different tolerance for cute kids, but Labine is undoubtedly funny. (March 14, 9:30 p.m., Fox.)

"Celebrity Apprentice" is back, with a weird group that includes Daryl Strawberry, Cyndi Lauper, Bret Michaels, Sharon Osbourne, Sinbad, and best of all, disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Please get him and Donald Trump in the room, because all that hair and all that ego is bound to cause some kind of weird disturbance in the Force. (March 14, 9 p.m., NBC.) 

MoviesThe images from "Green Zone" look a lot like those for Oscar-nominated "Hurt Locker." Both are based on the work of journalists with firsthand knowledge of the Iraq War, but while "Hurt Locker" focuses on bomb-disposal experts, "Green Zone" features Damon as a warrant officer searching for weapons of mass destruction. "Hurt Locker" also had a cast of mostly unknowns, while Damon is unquestionably a star, and Greg Kinnear and Amy Ryan back him up. Ryan's a long way from "The Office's" Dunder-Mifflin. (Opens March 12.)

With all the fuss over "Hurt Locker" and "Avatar," one best-picture nominee got lost in the shuffle. "Up in the Air" doesn't involve shooting, bombs, or 10-foot-tall blue kitties, yet it's made a real impression on critics and viewers. George Clooney plays a corporate downsizer who loves being away on business because nothing awaits him at home. Vera Farmiga plays the women he falls for, and Anna Kendrick the young upstart who thinks she can show him a better way to fire people. (Out on DVD March 9.)

"Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire" is a best-picture nominee with a few issues. First, there's that clunky title. Secondly, even those who are familiar with the film may hesitate to see it based on the disturbing content — a teenager pregnant with her second child by her father, living in squalor with an abusive mother? Not exactly a happy popcorn flick for date night. Still, Roger Ebert calls it "a great American film" and Entertainment Weekly calls it "a potent and moving experience." If you weren't sure how much of the film you could take in the theater, perhaps it's a better viewing experience on DVD, where you control the film's progress and can stop and take a breather if need be. (Out on DVD March 9.)

Another movie with disturbing content is "The Stoning of Soraya M.," which tells the true tale of a young Iranian woman married off as a child. When her much-older husband decides he wants to get rid of her, he invents an adultery accusation. She's sentenced to be buried up to her waist and stoned to death. The Hollywood Reporter calls it a "powerful, shocking piece," and Roger Ebert mostly agrees, though he says the film includes a "false Hollywood upbeat ending." How upbeat can a movie with this title possibly be, Hollywood? (Out on DVD March 9.)