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The first show of 2024 that is a must-watch is "Masters of the Air," a spectacular war story directed by Hanks and Spielberg.
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The first show of 2024 that is a must-watch is “Masters of the Air,” a spectacular war story directed by Hanks and Spielberg.


I rarely pause and text my friends while watching a show, but I couldn’t resist with Masters of the Air (Friday 26 January, Apple TV+). It felt necessary to share with them. “Have you seen Masters of the Air?” I would ask, and they would always say no. So I would quickly type out a message with a frozen image of Austin Butler’s perfect face chewing a toothpick on my screen, saying “It’s like Band of Brothers, but in the air. Watch the trailer now.” Within two minutes and 31 seconds, I would receive a reply of “oh my god” followed by “holy shit!”

This week marks the premiere of Masters of the Air, which is highly anticipated. It can be described as a similar experience to Band of Brothers, but set in the sky. The renowned production team of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman have come together for this project, along with director Cary Joji Fukunaga, who has previously delivered impressive episodes for TV shows such as True Detective and Maniac. The limited series will feature Fukunaga as director for the first four episodes, and it was produced with a budget of $250-300 million. The cast includes talented actors such as Austin Butler, known for his role as Elvis in a music video, and Callum Turner, who is set to become one of the UK’s most searched names. Other notable cast members include Bel Powley, Anthony Boyle, Stephen Campbell Moore, Raff Law, and Sawyer Spielberg. Due to the long production process spanning from 2012 to 2021 due to Covid-19, the series accidentally features rising stars Ncuti Gatwa and Barry Keoghan.

Butler and Turner are the dominant forces in this show. It’s remarkable how Austin Butler effortlessly exudes magnetism and charm, reminiscent of the kind of classic charisma that was common in the 1950s. He portrays Maj Gale “Buck” Clevan, while Callum Turner plays John “Bucky” Egan. Despite having similar names, their chemistry on screen is impeccable and never once becomes annoying. The first episode smoothly transitions from a lively bar scene where they flirt and dance, to a tense and action-packed sequence that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Every time a member of the 100th squadron takes off, a sense of dread washes over you, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout.

The TV series Band of Brothers (land) and its companion show The Pacific (sea) share similarities with Masters of the Air (sky): high production costs, a stellar cast, exceptional quality, and a delicate approach. Rather than glorifying war, it portrays the struggles of young soldiers and the brutal reality through intense and defining action scenes. In Masters, the action sequences are expertly crafted – putting viewers in the midst of a failing bomber engine, hanging over clouds with only a window separating them from certain death, or watching actors Barry Keoghan and Austin Butler perform a pre-flight checklist from the nose of a propeller (a surprisingly captivating moment: I would even watch them read a phonebook to each other).

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However, it is the human moments in between that truly capture your emotions and investment in the survival of each mission’s participants. These scenes are executed superbly, with no excessive dramatics or forced sentimentality. Instead, they showcase the camaraderie and natural interactions between the men, from pulling out a sepia-toned photo from their pockets to sharing a firm handshake as a way to express their emotions. Even in the midst of tragedy, they maintain a tough exterior and sometimes even turn to a drink and a smile to cope. Get ready to see a surge in sales for aviator jackets, hear people (including myself) start using “wilco” in everyday conversations, and mark Masters of the Air as the first must-rewatch series of 2024.

Source: theguardian.com