|Created by||Jeb Stuart|
|Based on||The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey|
by Alex Kershaw
|Written by||Jeb Stuart|
|Directed by||Greg Jonkajtys|
|Narrated by||Mike Rowe|
|Opening theme||"July 10, 1943"|
by Jason Todd Shannon
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||4|
|Running time||45–56 minutes|
|Picture format||4K (UHD) Widescreen|
|Original release||November 11, 2020|
The Liberator is an American adult animated war drama miniseries created and written by Jeb Stuart. It is based on the book The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey by Alex Kershaw.
Directed by Greg Jonkajtys, the miniseries was released on November 11, 2020 on Netflix.
The Liberator takes place during World War II where maverick U.S. Army officer Felix Sparks and the 157th Infantry Regiment fought for over five hundred days alongside the Allied forces during the Italian campaign.
The Liberator is a character-driven action miniseries based on the true story of World War II infantry commander Felix "Shotgun" Sparks (played by Bradley James), who led the members of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division, an integrated group of white cowboys, Mexican Americans and Native soldiers drawn from across the west. Sparks and his battalion of "Thunderbirds" were classic citizen soldiers, and for over 500 days they led a special group of American soldiers from Italy to France to the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, through some of the most grueling battles of the war, becoming one of the most decorated American combat units of World War II.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Why We Fight"||Greg Jonkajtys||Jeb Stuart||November 11, 2020|
|The Thunderbirds' time in Salerno hits some very big bumps, particularly for Capt. Sparks, whose early days as the unit's commander are also explored.|
|2||"One Word: Anzio"||Greg Jonkajtys||Jeb Stuart||November 11, 2020|
|With their flank exposed, the Thunderbirds face a brutal standoff with the Germans while defending Anzio. Sparks faces discipline for his actions.|
|3||"The Enemy"||Greg Jonkajtys||Jeb Stuart||November 11, 2020|
|A rebuilt E Company ships off to France. Initially it's a welcome break, but it soon brings another impossible mission. Sparks receives high honors.|
|4||"Home"||Greg Jonkajtys||Jeb Stuart||November 11, 2020|
|As the Allies close in on increasingly desperate German forces, the Thunderbirds bear witness to the atrocities of their enemy, and their fellow troops.|
Announced in November 2018, the miniseries's production would be handled by A&E Studios and Unique Features with animation services by Atlanta-based studio School of Humans. In January 2019, Bradley James was cast in the leading role of Felix Sparks and Martin Sensmeier was cast as Samuel Coldfoot. Later, the animation team behind the series launched Trioscope Studios, with the show as its first series in production. On November 9, Brandon Barr, chief content officer at Trioscope Studios, was interviewed. He stated that the project was "particularly challenging" and a lot of work, while arguing that anime opened the door for other visual techniques and styles. He also hoped that the company could be part of "bringing nuanced emotional drama to that broader adult animation push."
The miniseries was the first to use Trioscope Enhanced Hybrid Animation, a technique that blends live-action actors with CGI. According to its developers, L.C. Crowley and Grzegorz Jonkajtys, the technique gives off “unprecedented level of emotion and fidelity to the animated drama experience.”
A teaser trailer was released on October 9, 2020. An official trailer was released on October 22, 2020 and the limited series was released on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the miniseries holds an approval rating of 64% based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 7.15/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "The Liberator's eccentric animation gives it some creative gloss, but clichéd storytelling and stock characters keep this World War II tale from being wholly salute-worthy." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100 based on 7 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Reviewing the miniseries for Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars and said, "The Liberator more often than not is an effective reminder about why pop culture keeps revisiting World War II material again and again." On contrast, Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter called the show a series which is "very watchable" but is infuriating due to its "inconsistent focus and narrative choices" even though his interest never wavered due to the interesting and "eye-popping" animation. Fienberg concluded that people should check out the show for the animation, for a commemoration of Veterans Days but to be prepared for frustration over "how much more complicated, and how much richer" the actual history is and how the show could have been better.