Tag Archive for Television

The Unit

Directed by: David Mamet, Vahan Moosekian

Written by: David Mamet, Daniel Voll, Frank Military, Todd Ellis Kessler, Sharon Lee Watson, Lynn Mamet

Produced by: David Mamet, Shawn Ryan, Vahan Moosekian, Daniel Voll, Frank Military, Todd Ellis Kessler

Starring: Dennis Haysbert, Regina Taylor, Scott Foley, Audrey Marie Anderson, Max Martini, Abby Brammell, Michael Irby, Bre Blair, Joss Grey, Robert Patrick, Nicole Steinwedell, Wes Chatham

Running Time: 4 seasons

When I first heard about The Unit I thought to myself, “great another piece of military propaganda being broadcast into my living room.”  I watched the first few episodes, with honestly a closed mind, looking for a reason, any reason, not to enjoy the show and the chance to indulge in an angry rant at the person who had introduced me to show.  As I made my way through the episodes a strange thing happened; I began to enjoy the show.

The Unit is a military action/drama show revolving around a secret Special Forces squad (modeled after Delta Force) with the same name as the show.  Covert missions, as one would expect, are a large part of the series but what surprised me most is how important that lives of the wives and children of the deployed soldiers were which gave the story depth and made the series much more realistic.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of The Unit was to see a story that wasn’t about how glorious the military is and instead focused on how difficult that kind of lifestyle can be on the soldiers and families involved.  The families are faced with knowing that their husbands and fathers are deployed on extremely dangerous missions with the fear that they won’t make it back home.  If not knowing when their loved ones will be safe; the families also have to deal with the low salaries that the soldiers get for risking their lives for their country, spousal abuse and affairs (which are common in the military lifestyle),  combined with having to keep their jobs a secret from everybody outside of the Unit.

Given the difficult lifestyle that the characters of the story have chosen to live; every character has to have a strong mental will and inner strength that one wouldn’t doesn’t see on regular television shows.  The characters, especially the wives, struggle to keep their family together while at the same time dealing with situations that are common in our normal lives.  The strength of the characters is shown most in the Blane family, where Jonas Blane, played by Dennis Haysbert, is charged with being the leader of the Unit and at the same time still manages to a powerful father figure and a positive role model which is hardly ever seen in the mainstream media; especially involving characters of color.

In the end what we’re left with is an outstanding T.V. show filled with action, drama and a high level of realism which enables the viewer to suspend their disbelief.  The show isn’t perfect and personally I’d have liked to see more of the shadier and darker sides of the missions that our military routinely engages in on a regular basis.  While this show isn’t for everyone; if you’re a fan of stories about the military, this show is as perfect as it gets on network television.

(4/5)

Bones


Produced by: Kathy Reichs

Written by: Hart Hanson, Kathy Reichs

Starring: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne

What do you get when you cross snarky women forensic anthropologists, a former army sniper trying to make up for his past by working for the FBI and dialog that would make sane any man leave the room?  You get the first few episodes of Bones.

Bones is basically a version of CSI geared towards women.  The main character Dr. Temperance Brennan, nicknamed Bones, is the world’s premier expert on forensics, an expert in martial arts, a famous novel writer and an orphan too which is all made clear within the 20 minutes of the first episode of the series.  With all of the education and knowledge that Bones has you’d figure that she’d have to have some flaws and we aren’t disappointed with her inability to communicate with regular people which leads to hilarious and totally “unpredictable” situations which are totally predictable.

Every strong woman needs a strong man and that’s where Special Agent Seeley Booth comes in.  Booth is witty, cocky, and handsome and of course street smart which makes him the perfect counterpart for the socially inept Bones.  Booth’s past, where he was a sniper, makes him a man’s man but that doesn’t stop him from being sensitive too.  In fact, if Booth was any good at marketing he’d have a picture of himself smiling on a stick of Secret deodorant:  “Booth, strong enough for a man but made for a woman.”  Since he is so charming he’s already got a hot lawyer girlfriend which of course won’t last long since it wouldn’t be a happy ending if Bones doesn’t get her man.

After about five minutes of watching Bones it became apparent that I would have to take notes so I accurately list all of my problems with the characters and writing on the show.  A criminal could only be so lucky to have this team of crack detectives investigate them.  While the gritty stuff behind how the criminal was found was interesting, namely the forensics, the lack of due process and how the evidence was collected would be enough to nullify the cases in the real world.  Bones doesn’t let a meager thing like a search warrant stop her from getting her man but instead adheres to the end justifies the means philosophy.

Here’re some other problems I had with the show:

  1. The use Elmer’s glue to rebuild a shattered skull.  For some reason that doesn’t seem right.
  2. Stereotypical Arab suicide bombers.  This series is released by Fox but they could at least put effort into the terrorists.  Why would one bomber sabotage and blow an accomplice up which would draw attention to their plans before they’re carried out?
  3. Homeland Security officials don’t understand that DNA can be used to identify remains.
  4. One of the forensic team members can’t handle working with freshly dead bodies.
  5. Super forensic holographic technology which can create a perfect image of the victim with the push of a button which only their lab has.
  6. Bones repeatedly tells the suspect before they’re arrested details of the case which should kept confidential.  On one occasion, she lets an entire town know the details of the case.
  7. Did I mention the search warrant thing?  To the credit of the show, they did mention needing one to conduct a search about 7 episodes in.

Needless to say, the only entertainment I got from watching the first few episodes was making my list about the problems with the show.

Luckily by the fifth episode the writers must figured out that men wouldn’t watch the show the way it was and gave more of a focus to the forensic science and shifted away from the characters witty personalities.  Since Kathy Reichs, the producer of the show, is actually a renowned forensic anthropologist her input gives the science behind the show a realistic feeling.  Even though I didn’t care about the characters personal lives the science kept me entertained while I made my way through the episodes.

In the end Bones has a lot of flaws which I personally can’t overlook but I can also see how people, especially women, would like the show.  The scientific aspects of the show are very interesting, but the abilities and knowledge the characters have make them seem less than real.   The stories have many covenant conclusions where the main characters walk in on the criminals trying to cover their tracks because of some hunch they had.  Bones is the kind of show that you would watch because it’s on not because you particularly care about seeing it.  If Bones was a book, I could imagine finding it at a Laundromat next to a large pink laundry basket.

(2.5/5)