Saturday, July 30, 2005

"Over There" - Overblown

Well, that was disappointing. Not that Bochco's new show about the Iraq War offended me as an American - I didn't get the impression that a leftist, anti-war agenda was being pushed. No, Over There offended me as a writer.

And the show's writers started sucking right off the bat. From the Viet Vet cliché trooper lighting up a joint while on duty through the long, long tirade the held-past-his-tour-and-pissed-as-Hell sergeant inflicts on his squad, to the unimaginative use of cable-permitted expletives, Bochco's writing staff was underwhelming.

Do senior officers undermine their lieutenants' authority (and the chain of command) by agreeing with a sergeant who has just insulted the lieutenant's leadership abilities - in front of the men? I hope not.

Do sergeants address senior officers with contempt while using "goddamn" as a frequent modifier? Maybe once.

Then there's the issue of the two women convoy drivers trapped in combat. Grossly incompetent, virtually worse than useless (and there's a separate issue that I'm sure some female soldiers and bloggers will address), these two are assigned to hold the squad's right flank. Makes sense to the Over There writers.

As the sergeant leads a frontal assault against insurgents, holed up in a mosque and accompanied by an al-Jazeera reporter and cameraman, he shouts, "We didn't come here to take your oil! We came here to kick your ass!" Didn't John Wayne say something similar in The Fighting Seabees or The Green Berets? Personally, I'd think that someone leading a frontal assault on enemies with automatic weapons would save his breath for running and shooting, but that's just me.

The one bright spot was the portrayal of the al-Jazeera reporter as an enemy and as an assclown. That had the ring of truth.

I used to watch Hill Street Blues every week. I most definitely won't be rearranging my schedule to catch Over There.