DAVID MAMET IS PUTTING HIS KIDS THROUGH COLLEGE - Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog




Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


Archives

April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

 

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Or something.

/* Spoilers */

Watched The Unit. What a waste of writing talent.

The idea of a top-secret deniable US Army unit is pretty old. My first writing credit was on a piece of straight-to-video called Warriors about a guy from one of those units who goes AWOL. But of course our unit did nasty stuff -- the movie started with a massacre of a Bolivian wedding party, presumably because of something to do with drugs. If your unit is doing legit work, it doesn't need to be top secret, and it can go through regular channels.

Not David Mamet's unit. They do perfectly legitimate work, and for no particular reason, they are top secret and deniable. And one ridiculous thing happens after another.

The Unit goes on a mildly preposterous mission -- to laser-designate a car in Afghanistan that could, obviously, have been laser-designated and destroyed by a Predator drone. By pretending to be "businessmen." Because so many businessmen in Afghanistan are either Caucasian or African-American. Because you would obviously use Special Forces guys who live in the US to do a job like that, instead of the many suberb Special Forces warriors who live there and have developed close relationships with the locals.

Then they go on an utterly preposterous mission: to take over a plane that Arab terrorists have somehow taken over in Idaho. Because it is so easy for terrorists to get guns and explosives onto a plane these days. And passengers are so willing to sit still and be murdered after 9/11. And they rush the plane all on their own. Because the FBI is so willing to step aside when loud-talking Army people say they should. Because threatening to murder them works so well with FBI agents. Because you wouldn't want to use the local SWAT guys, or the FBI's SWAT guys, or even coordinate with them.

Theoretically what's interesting about this show is the lives of the women back home. But we learn nothing about them that we couldn't imagine on our own. Security is tight. The wives aren't supposed to say where their husbands are. That point gets hammered over the head over and over and over. We don't get a sense what these women really might be like because they're too busy Stepfording the new girl.

I had trouble believing any part of this pilot. From the wife who seems to have no awareness of the kind of job her husband has signed on for, or the rules under which he and she will both be operating, to the decision to set the terrorism in the US because, presumably, US audiences don't care about anything that happens beyond their borders, this show felt like amateur hour.

What I missed most was Mamet-speak. I was hoping for some Mamet-speak. Part of the joys of watching David Mamet's work is how he turns ordinary sentences into poetry. How his characters are cartoonish yet believable. This pilot had one non-zinger after another. Lines like "... as if your life depended on it. Because, believe me, it does." Heavy-handed, earnest, on-the-nose, RCMP dialog.

Sorry, PM, but you might want to start hunting for a new job after the overnights come in.

Ah, well. On to 8th and Ocean.

11 Comments:

THE UNIT did quite well last night:(households: 11.5/18, #3; adults 18-49: 5.1, #3), which built off its "NCIS" (households: 11.0/17, #4; adults 18-49: 3.8, #T4) lead-in by 4.35% in households and a whopping 34.21% in adults 18-49. Even better, "The Unit" built its audience between half-hours by 2.66% in households (11.3/17 vs. 11.6/18) and 10.42% in adults 18-49 (4.8 vs. 5.3).

By Blogger Patrick, at 12:53 PM  

The above was taken directly from thefutoncritic.com

Alex, I do hope you give it a chance with subsequent episodes.

By Blogger Patrick, at 1:22 PM  

Whew! I'm glad I'm not the only one who was thinking exactly what Alex was thinking. I thought there might be something wrong with me...well, there is -- but let's not get into that.

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 1:44 PM  

I liked it, and I didn't expect to. I think it's the only new midseason show I've liked so far, actually.

By Blogger RT, at 3:15 PM  

I'm willing to give it another couple of episodes before giving up, but I'm with you, Alex.

No Mametty dialogue, and also no Mametty twists, or humor. GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is one dark piece of theater, but it's also really funny in spots.

The Afghani teaser blew my mind. "We are businessmen!" Why not just say "Nobody here but us chickens!" and be done with it, Sergeant Major Obvious? And why do the laser painting in broad daylight, right in the middle of town, where the local warlord's having a snack?

24 and ALIAS set the bar for implausible-but-okay-we-buy-it spy action, not to mention how to thread in real, character-driven emotional connection amidst the gunplay and disguises.

Not sure why THE UNIT didn't take those lessons to heart. Maybe they will yet.

By Blogger Kira, at 4:38 PM  

Actually, the US Army's real-life "Delta" force operates pretty much the way the Unit does in this show. Their operations are top secret, the Army has never officially acknowledged their existence, the operators don't have uniforms or unit badges, they dress in civilian clothes, and don't follow conventional rank structure. I missed the first ten minutes of the episode, but what I saw was a lot more plausible than anything on 24.

By Blogger Gilman, at 12:34 PM  

That's fine. But the Delta force does not ask a bunch of Rangers sitting nearby to join them. The Ranger guys would certainly NOT disregard their CO to follow some guy in a button shirt. That's just not how the Army works. The Delta Force does not threaten (I hope) FBI agents. It would not (I hope) operate anywhere near television cameras. The whole plot was just a lazy, lazy, lazy way to start the series with an operation on US soil.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:55 PM  

David Mamet's UNIT.

That's a joke waiting to happen.

By Blogger Robot Porter, at 11:52 AM  

What does RCMP stand for, as in "Heavy-handed, earnest, on-the-nose, RCMP dialog."?

By Blogger Tom, at 12:01 PM  

Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I guess Alex is becoming more and more Canuck every day.

By Blogger Patrick, at 12:07 PM  

Thanks.
A bit heavy handed on the dialogue then. Must be a case of fat fingers.

By Blogger Tom, at 3:29 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.



This page is powered by Blogger.