Monday, October 20, 2008

Jumping the Shark: The Unit

I absolutely hate it when I can feel a favorite t.v. show slide downhill. That is definitely happening this season on The Unit. Yes, this season, they have jumped the shark!

Jumping the shark means you are aware of the precise moment a favorite show has peaked and is on the way out. Example: I used to love Cold Case but the minute they took Kathryn Morris' hair down and made her look more girly, I lost interest. (Kudos to Mariska Hargitay for being the only female cop on t.v. trying to keep it real. You deserve those Emmys!)

The Unit was created by writer extraordinaries David Mamet... although I feel I must be totally honest and credit him with the ONLY movie I've ever walked out of and demanded a refund! (Glengarry Glenross - five minutes of grown men doing nothing more than shouting "F*&( you!" "No, F*&( YOU!" does not exactly move a plot along in my book. I got my refund, leaving my friends in the theatre and spent my time at Pink's Hot Dogs reading a book!)

The show got off to a promising start. Starring one of my favorite actors, Dennis Haysbert, as the leader of a top secret Special Forces unit based on the book Delta Force. The storyline contrasts the issues of the wives with those of the men who are often away on "save the free world" missions.

The men of the cast include are rock solid and believable and most are known (such as Scott Foley and Robert Patrick) or at least known faces. The women, less so, with the exception of the always classy Regina Taylor, wife to Haysbert's character. The one actor underutilized is Michael Irby. He's very talented but with no female counter-part on the show, he doesn't get as much screen time.

The Unit has been exciting in the first three seasons but this last one really blows! I blame it on the women. I'm sure portraying life on an army base may not be that exciting but the story lines only touched on a few of the problems real women in these positions may face - like how to pay for food for your kids when your husband's check is lost or how to make friends when you can't talk about your husband's job.

From a production standpoint, telling the women's stories is probably way more cost effective. Shot on sound stages, no location fees, no special effects. If the show were all about the men (which would be fine by me), it would cost significantly more to make.

This season (#4), they've created a ruse to get rid of the youngest children in the show and move the women across country under the guise of great danger and every episode has them stretching the truth and getting into more and more perilous situations. Ah, ah, ahbull shitchoo. Excuse me!

If real "terrorists" were after the women of the most elite of our armed forces, I'm certain the powers that be would not ship them across country, off- base and leave them to their own devices. And what of those poor little kids shipped off to grandma's??? Would they really be safe there??? Come on!

And as for plausibility... one of the things I hate most is contradiction. Don't say one thing and do another. Last night's episode had an all time classic - but I'm saving that for another post on things that drive me nuts in films! I'll use another show for an example: Friends. I love that show - for the most part. I try to see at least part of an episode before falling asleep... what's better than going to sleep happy??? But the whole Chandler / Monica love affair thing makes me crazy. While the character of Chandler was never the Lothario that Joey's character was... he slept with plenty of women in the show's early days. But suddenly, he hooks up with Monica and he's some dweeb who's only slept with two women and Monica is one of them! What the f*&(????

Watching The Unit last night really made me sad. They've taken a thrilling show and they are turning it into drivel and there's plenty of that already!


Becky said...

I've never seen The Unit but I love Scott Foley from his Felicity days. We don't get many U.S. shows here in Korea but we do get House once in a while. I never watched it in the States but I'm hooked and so is Curt.

Curt loves 24 and got hooked just before we moved.

Anonymous said...

Amen, sister! I used to love The Unit, because I love David Palmer..err..Dennis Haysbert, but sometime last season (my patience isn't as long as yours) I lost interest. I think they might be trying to compete with Army Wives, a show I started out liking but lost interest in.

I could take or leave "Friends", but like you, I found the Monica/Chandler thing too much to take. I'll catch it on late at night, but if it's one where they're together, I'll change the channel.

Linda@VS said...

I've never seen The Unit, but I did watch so many Friends episodes that it'll be years before I need to see a refresher, and I know what you mean about Monica and Chandler.

Glengarry Glenross, I think, is one of those movies that no one would give a C rating. People seem to either love it or hate it. I loved it, probably because I worked closely with a group of (industrial) salesmen at the time and could easily identify with their angst as portrayed by that fine group of actors. I do agree with you that the level of cursing was over the top.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Becky, I love - er --- make that LOVED House. But they ruined the plot line last year with all the wannabe docs. I loved the original and find the characters even more discombobulated this season.

Janet, Dennis Haysbert brings such a richness to all his characters. I love him. Definitely would make my Top ten living actor list!

Velvet - YOU'RE ALIVE!!!! Miss you!

Re: Glengarry - I got the angst and could even understand the cursing to a point... But when it went on and on... I had to leave.

Andy said...

As of this writing, the best show on television that no one talks about. Is it easier to overlook military-themed shows, being as their viewership is made up of middle America? But The Unit is neither a gussied-up procedural (NCIS) nor a rousing commercial (Jag), and it betrays almost no political agenda.

Anonymous said...

I was amazed to see how many hits I got when I googled "unit jumped shark". Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks things are rapidly heading toward disaster.

Sure, the idea of making the wives psuedo-operators is ridiculous, but the episode with the Spear of Legolis was the first one that made me say "huh?" I can see Mack's near-death dream of Hector, and I can even see the existence of the monastery and spear, but then the monastery has vanished when Jonas returns the spear? Huh?

And just this week, Jonas takes out three or four guys to rescue a child, then BASE jumps from the hotel room. Again, I don't have a problem with that, although the rescue mission had the feel of a "check this out/we needed to fill some time" segment, since I've seen nothing to set it up (I will admit I have missed a show or two this year, so that might fill in a blank). But the "come ON" moment was when he dropped with the child onto a moving truck with the rest of the team, cutting loose from the 'chute and hitting a bullseye painted on the break-away roof.

I would hate to see this show get so ridiculous I don't want to watch it, because I really enjoy it.