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What National Geographic Wants You to Know About 'The Long Road Home'

National Geographic tonight (Nov. 7) debuts it’s eight-part drama series The Long Road Home, which relives the 2004 "Black Sunday” ambush of a U.S. platoon in Bagdad during the Iraq War.

The series, based on journalist Martha Raddatz’s best-selling book, is the latest of several military-themed series to hit the TV airways in 2017, including NBC's The Brave, CBS’ SEAL Team, CW’s Valor and History’s Six.

MCN Review: 'The Long Road Home' an Effective, Realistic Military Drama [subscription required]

I recently spoke to Carolyn Bernstein, National Geographic executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production, about the network’s ambitious undertaking in developing the series. 

Here’s what Bernstein and Nat Geo want you to know about The Long Road Home.

The series offers a dramatic look at an historical event: “We feel like this is a bulls-eye television project for us in terms of what we’re looking to do with our scripted dramas initiative. We’re leading with the entertainment value, but everything that we do needs to have nutritional value as well. When you watch any scripted drama on Nat Geo we hope that you would be entertained but also enlightened and learn something about the world around you that you may not have known. For us, this was a story that deserved to be told in a complete and dramatic fashion that featured relatable and universal humanistic values."

The series adds context to a high profile incident during the Iraq War: Certainly people will remember the Iraq War and have a point of view about it, and they may remember specific incidents during the Iraq War. But this is a very deep dive into an incident that may have gone in one ear and out the other due to the way the 24-hour cable news cycle works. It’s a way to understand the Iraq War from a character-driven and human perspective. The Iraq War is very universally known, but we thought it was really important to shine a light on this less well-known incident as a way of understanding the larger war.”

The Long Road Home does not look to make a political statement: “We look at this show as being apolitical. It’s really about these people who have stories of their own to tell that have nothing to do with politics. Martha speaks very eloquently about this in saying  that this is about men who go from driving minivans one day to a couple of weeks later finding themselves in a combat situation in Iraq, and having to find their determination, grit, resilience, courage and brotherhood to get through it. For us it’s really about the sacrifice and the courage that these men showed in the face of terrible adversity. It exists outside of the political and it feels timeless … it’s always a good time to tell this type of story.”

Watch the Trailer: Nat Geo's 'The Long Road Home'

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.