Sunday, September 17, 2006

Previewing The Unit

Somehow, my two part post on battle speeches got me an invitation to preview The Unit, Season One on DVD which releases on Tuesday to coincide with the airing of the Season Two premier on CBS. This is the second time marketers have targeted my blog to promote television and I gotta tell ya that I don't think it's a terrible idea. But, naturally, I look at such things from the perspective of a writer.

The Unit is a television drama about an ultra secretive special forces contingency regularly deployed to parts unknown on missions that protect the safety and security of Americans. Created by Shawn Ryan and David Mamet, and based on the book "Inside the Delta Force" by Eric Haney, The Unit stars Dennis Haysbert, Scott Foley, and Robert Patrick who deliver strong performances.

The activities of the Unit, itself, are well written, compelling, and addictive without talking over the heads of us non-military viewers. Whether the writing lacks plausibility to viewers in our armed forces remains to be seen. I've turned my discs over to a guy who can help me out with that question. But from the perspective of a female with limited military knowledge, it's good stuff if you can overlook the women's stories.

The wives, played by Regina Taylor, Audrey Marie Anderson, and Abby Brammell -- well, ouch. But I'm not entirely sure what hurts. Is it their stories? Their perfomances? Or, is it that just about the time the men reel me into their adventure, I get yanked out to watch eye candy bicker, struggle through relationship issues or suffer an unjustice for the sake of the secrecy of their men.

If the writers and producers need hot babes for the male viewers, that's okay with me. But The Unit appears to be trying to portray strong women with iron backbones and real issues in order to attract an educated female demographic -- noble, but it misses the mark and often feels like an episode of Desperate Army Wives.

While the women's stories are saccharin, the men in the Unit have stories that are good drama even when they're uncomfortable. Not always politcally correct and often morally ambiguous, the men make decisions in situations I wouldn't want to confront. Could you temporarily change your sexual orientation and act on that to get home alive? Leave a child behind in a hostile land after promising to take him home? Turn on a brother in arms for the greater good or cheat on your wife because of a time honored tradition?

This program is neither M.A.S.H. nor Saving Private Ryan and military interest is not required to get caught up in The Unit and I can recommend that my fellow bloggers take a look at it.

However, with regard to backing off the women, I hope Season Two takes to heart something the wives, themselves, repeat over and over in these episodes about the potential for a distracted soldier to cause the demise of The Unit. That goes for distracted viewers, too.


Mystery Man said...

I liked how you closed your post. Very nice!

And this -

"it's good stuff if you can overlook the women's stories"

- made me laugh.

I love Mamet, LOVE MAMET, especially "Glengarry Glen Ross," one of my FAVORITE plays. But Mamet writing female characters? Oy vey... A female character in a Mamet play always sounds to me like a guy that's capable of rattling off Mamet-speak except... he just happens to have boobs.


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Thought of Mamet often as I sat in a dark closet and listened to my Untouchables soundtrack in my head with a damp rag over my eyes.

When it comes to women, I don't believe it takes one to know one or write one but these gals are just not helping the show.

If you watched the show last year and know the cliffhanger, the premier of Season Two tomorrow night is sure to disappoint. I saw it on IGN yesterday. Very worried about Mamet's baby at this point. This show has great potential but the premier is a let down.

p.s... something tells me that I won't get asked to review too many more of these with this kind of review.

oneslackmartian said...

I'm about where you're at with The Unit. Saccharin indeed with the wives. I like it as part of the story, but they need to beef up the writing there.

Some of the Army stuff makes me cringe. It's TV, so I’m not going to sweat that too much. "Freeze! United States Army" is just not a situation that presents itself very often, especially on U.S. soil.

But I look forward to Season 2. I also looked forward to Season 2 of Flavor of Love, so maybe I'm not the best measuring stick.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Dangit. Does that mean I misspelled sacc--? Oh never mind. I'll look it up. Season Two premier is tonight but seriously, it winks at the cliffhanger but nothing more. HUGE letdown. Hope it gets better.

Scott the Reader said...

Jeez. No one is sending me stuff to review. Whose butt to I have to kiss?

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Maybe they're waiting for you to win the Nicholl??