September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

HBO (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

“Looks like you guys are gonna be surrounded.”

“We’re paratroopers, Lieutenant. We’re supposed to be surrounded.”

Band of Brothers sometimes sounds like one of those old-fashioned, gung-ho World War II movies. And it couldn’t be clearer that executive producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, veterans of the 1998 combat epic Saving Private Ryan, admire the Army unit whose accomplishments are recounted in this 10-hour adaptation of historian Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book. But for the most part, the miniseries honors the soldiers’ bravery without hiding their fears or failings.

The saga begins Sept. 9 with back-to-back episodes that take the men of Easy Company from early training in 1942 to the Normandy invasion of ’44. Their odyssey ends Nov. 4 with the capture of Hitler’s fortress in Bavaria. The most compelling drama comes Oct. 7—the Battle of the Bulge as seen through the eyes of an exhausted medic—and Oct. 28, when the discovery of an abandoned concentration camp gives the company’s efforts a profound moral dimension.

Shot in England, the $120 million production is surprisingly short on familiar faces. But British actor Damian Lewis combines quiet strength and a convincing accent in the role of the all-American unit leader.

Bottom Line: Meritorious service

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