(Four beers- really hungry but otherwise okay.)
I admit, I was a little nervous for the show at first, since David Simon and Ed Burns may be spreading themselves rather thin lately. And the pilot left a lot to be desired-- since it was about the beginnings of the war in Iraq, it seemed like it might head the holier-than-thou direction or get too tired too fast.
The second and third episodes were excellent television, though. As with "The Wire," it's pretty confusing to be thrown in medias res with like thirty characters...who kind of look the same. And they're wearing uniforms now. By the second episode, it was clear which ones the show wanted us to focus on: Ray, Brad, Trombley, and their corporal. Their character types are kind of cliche, I admit-- there's the guy distracting himself from the situation with sarcasm, the guy who feels underutilized and bites his tongue at nearly every superior's decision, the guy who goes blindly into combat because he knows no better (and his dad probably did the same). But aren't those characters present in nearly every profession? I'm waiting for Simon/Burns to pace a show about actuaries; I'd probably keep my HBO subscription for it.
Also, I forgot to mention that the Rolling Stone reporter provides sufficient unintentional comedy throughout. He's got the same detached, faux-astonished look on his face in nearly every frame, and his only arc thus far-- the sub-joke about the photo of his girlfriend-- is already stale. Really, is this how David Simon views himself?
I guess my point is that "Generation Kill" is similar to "The Wire" in that its most valuable asset is its credibility. Nearly every Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq veteran watching it can probably relate to it on some level. Maybe a handful of characters remind them of their company and squad members. I don't mean to sound like I can relate with them or the show, but it's refreshing to watch stories and characters so researched and lifelike that you're actually intruigued and surprised by what happens to them, as if they were your real-life acquaintances. I'm already bracing myself for inevitable casualties, since several "Wire" characters' deaths were emotionally intense.
One of these dudes is the hottest name in TV and just got another HBO pilot financed. One of them is hoping for a callback for that Enzyte commercial.
As concerned as I am about having pop culture cred, it's difficult for me to admit that I have only watched season one of "The Wire" and wasn't even that impressed. (I know. Shocking.) I have watched the first four episodes of David Simon's "Generation Kill," however, and I probably won't finish out the mini-series.
It just doesn't seem to be going anywhere. For a show about a war, it doesn't have a whole lot of conflict. Plus, it's starting to feel as if every installment is the same. This is a guide to creating your own episode:
Scene A- Obliquely refer to how fubar the events of the last episode were, immediately introducing the theme of authority issues.
Scene B- One soldier tells another the story of how things were back home/why he joined the military. This usually involves some racial element.
Scene C- Wacky male-bonding hijinx.
Scene D- The higher-ups order something that doesn't make sense, and the grunts question it, once again exploring the idea of who has authority and where it comes from.
Scene E- The boys all join in a Humvee singalong to a girly pop song.
Scene F- There's some kind of a scare/misunderstanding involving an Iraqi. This shows us that the way of life of the "Hajjid" is a lot like ours, but also really different at the same time. Ah, paradox.
Scene F- Genuine action for about five minutes.
Scene G- The boys move onto their next mission, making some comment about how people over here just don't understand the war.
"Generation Kill" is the longest hour of TV I've watched in a while, and it doesn't seem to be making the points it wants to. I don't get it, but I do respect that it doesn't tell us what to think about the war, sometimes at the expense of real drama.