By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — There are many different specials coming from many networks chronicling the 20th anniversary of 9/11. As would be expected, native New Yorker Spike Lee has his own perspective on what happened and its impact, and he’s getting plenty of space on HBO to present it. His eight hour opus “NYC Epicenters: 9/11 – 2021 ½“ debuted Sunday night and continues on successive Sundays leading up to the finale September 11. The first half of the opening episode focused interestingly enough on something else – the COVID-19 pandemic and summer of protests that followed George Floyd’s murder. 

Lee has interviewed over 200 people for the series. The second episode that airs this Sunday spotlights both various New York representatives and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He also explores the Trump presidency, focusing on Trump’s New York origins.

The third episode, airing Sept. 5, is a two-hour study of how the city lived through Sept. 11, 2001 that weaves together testimonies from firefighters, documentarians, office workers, and lifelong New Yorkers such as his own wife and children.

The concluding episode, airing on Sept. 11, examines the day’s aftermath with probing curiosity and righteous fury for those who died, disappeared, and were irrevocably, physically changed. 

Episode two includes devastating montages of workers blinking through ash and shock, smoke enveloping lower Manhattan into darkness, and desperate people leaping from the Twin Towers as they burned. And as the series notes, 9/11 was a disaster broadcast live across our television screens for a generation to see and absorb in an unprecedented way.

There will no doubt be those who find Spike Lee’s treatment too rambling and broad, while others will celebrate his willingness to cover an array of issues, personalities and topics within the 9/11 framework. But no matter what you think of it, there’s no way that you won’t find “NYC Epicenters: 9/11 -2021 1/2” compelling television.