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Masters of the Air isn’t the follow-up Band of Brothers deserved

Published Feb 21st, 2024 8:49PM EST
Masters of the Air on Apple TV+
Image: Apple

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I couldn’t wait for Masters of the Air to hit Apple TV Plus, considering who was behind the project. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced the show. The duo gave us Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and The Pacific. These are all World War II stories that received great reviews. I also loved watching them. That was all the push I needed to watch Masters of the Air.

Four episodes later, I’ve had enough.

Masters of the Air is indeed amazing, especially the first few episodes. You get settled in, you get to meet this new band of brothers, and, best of all, you get to explore those Flying Fortresses. The B-17 action is CGI, of course. But it’s incredibly well done, and it gives you an idea of how dangerous flying those bombers was, how difficult it was to navigate them compared to modern-day flying, and how much effort went into maintaining them. 

In some ways, it’s even better than a documentary.

While all that happens, you also expect to eventually start caring more about the characters. You’re still figuring out who the main heroes are beyond the two Bucks. These two share a bromance you think will mean something down the road. And by the time they embark upon a raid over Nazi-occupied territory, it’s clear that some of your favorite characters won’t be coming home. 

These Flying Fortresses are amazing fighting machines. But they go down mission after mission. Sometimes in greater numbers than expected. The crews either die or have to bail out. And that’s where the additional troubles begin for the survivors. 

By episode 4, out of a total of 9 for the first season, you realize that the character development you wanted isn’t happening. Not only will you not care about most characters, but you might not remember who most of them are. 

Masters of the Air on Apple TV+
I’ll never know what happened to these guys. Image source: Apple

That’s where Masters of the Air fails for me. No matter how amazing the bombing action is — and it’s clear that that’s the focal point of the series — the explosive action alone isn’t enough to make the TV show a must-watch for me.

The character development is minimal, and some of the dialogue seems like filler content to get us to the next briefing and fight sequence. If I don’t care about the heroes, I won’t care when they inevitably get shot down or have to fend for themselves behind enemy lines. 

I won’t continue watching if I don’t care about the characters, no matter what those B17s are going to be up to next. Back to the documentary comparison, by the end of episode 4, I realized that I’d rather see a documentary about what the B17 meant to the war effort from the early days to the end of World War II. 

Just as I was having these thoughts about Masters of the Air, Variety reported that Masters of the Air was Apple TV Plus’s most-watched original series to date. It’s clear that I wasn’t the only one anticipating this series from the moment it was announced. 

But now, it will be interesting to see how many of them watch it all the way through, assuming Apple ever shares those figures when the series ends. While I personally will not advance beyond episode 4 anytime soon, episode 6 will be available to stream this Friday.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.