Apple TV+ has always had grand ambitions for its streaming service, and why shouldn't it? As one of the richest tech companies in the world, Apple has the money to spend on high-end dramas, if not always the best taste in what they should be. (Sorry to The Morning Show and See.) Moreover, it has money to lose since these shows aren't the core business; they're a tax write-off, a loss leader to help the company sell the thing it is focused on: hardware. But more than glossy-looking shows and A-list stars, that money gives Apple TV+ something few production studios can afford, and that is patience. Masters of the Air is proof of that, as after five years in production, the series is finally coming to the small screen.
Masters of the Air had actually been in development far longer than five years. It was originally meant to be the third series from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg following the mega-success of Band of Brothers and The Pacific, announced by HBO back in 2013 before Apple TV+ was even a concept. Band of Brothers writer John Orloff was brought aboard to adapt Donald L. Miller's Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany, focusing on the 100th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force. But then Time Warner sold off Warner Media to AT&T, which turned around and offloaded it to Discovery in 2021.
With the project in limbo, Apple came calling and made an overall commitment deal with Spielberg to develop multiple projects, and in return, he and Hanks brought Masters of the Air to Apple. One pandemic and five years of filming later, the series finally has a trailer.
Here's the series' synopsis.
From Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman - the producers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific. During World War II, airmen risk their lives with the 100th Bomb Group, a brotherhood forged by courage, loss, and triumph.
We should note that this is part of the already established group of Hanks-Spielberg World War II miniseries, all of which are American-focused, and that anyone who googles the 100th Bomb Group will immediately discover this is no exception. However, as is true of most high-end prestige series, this is filled with British actors. The series co-stars Callum Turner (The Capture), Anthony Boyle (Derry Girls), Ben Radcliff (Anatomy of a Scandal), Barry Keoghan (Saltburn), Branden Cook (Industry), Ncuti Gatwa (Doctor Who), and Jude Law's son Rafferty Law (Twist). It also includes several Americans as well, including Austin Butler (Elvis), Nate Mann (Ray Donovan), and Josiah Cross (A Thousand and One).
Orloff wrote all nine episodes; director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation) helmed four of the nine episodes, with Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (Captain Marvel), Dee Rees (Mudbound), and Tim Van Patten (Black Mirror) splitting the other five. Executive producers include Hanks, Spielberg, Orloff, Goetzman, and Graham Yost, plus Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey for Amblin Television and Steven Shareshian for Playtone.
Masters of the Air will premiere on Friday, January 26, with two episodes, followed by new installments every Friday through March 15, 2024.