Thursday, August 25, 2005

Over There:

Episode IV In the Toilet and Episode V Bad MSM

I watched both episodes but have been remiss in keeping my duty in reporting the story lines and idiocy.

Fortunately, someone else did it for me. OIF I vet at Counter Column reports on Episode IV: In the Toilet.

Apparently, there's an important logistical convoy which is about to come through the town, and the brass wants to take out "the spotter," thinking that by taking out the spotter, they can make the road safe for traffic.

No, enemy mortar crews, despite having been laying on the same section of road for days, never register their tubes on a known and fixed piece of terrain, apparently.

The squad's unit, furthermore, is too stupid to, you know, simply go and raid the guy's house to see if he has a radio, or even if the mortar fire stops or becomes less effective the day he's picked up.[snip]

And so the semi trucks come over the hill, with their precious cargo of toilet seats. Smoker, a tough street kid from Compton, doesn't think the cargo of toilet seats is worth the risk.

Smoker apparently missed the OIF I rotation, but I digress.

Read the rest here.

Episode V: Bad MSM, really isn't that much better though a current soldier in service gives it a "two star" rating with a half a star for "most improved in one episode":

For all its faults, "Over There" tried last night to show how the events in Iraq are distorted by media outlets interested in packaging the war into marketable chunks that'll boost network ratings. It may be slightly unintentionally self-referential, but I think the show as a whole is getting better and is working hard to redeem itself.

Another soldier with him suggests how the show could be improved:

One of the several soldiers watching the show with me said, "I wish Michael Mann had directed this show."

"Michael Mann?" I asked. "You mean the shithead who directed Pearl Harbor?"

"Oh, he directed that? Well, he did a good job on Miami Vice."

I wonder if the show could have been better if Don Johnson played their battalion commander.

Okay, I have to admit, I liked Pearl Harbor, but then again, I'm a romantic at heart and I thought it was rather romantic. And, of course, before Ben Affleck went on tour with a certain someone during last year's election, I thought he was cute. I still do, but now I think he's the kind of cute that should be seen and not heard.

For my own take on Episode V: Bad MSM, I was really surprised how it was approached. I was super surprised that the episode made it past any network censors (you know, the ones that can't bare criticism of self) then I realized that it was on FX which is a Fox affiliate and thus, it explains everything. Particularly since the offending network had initials eerily similar to CNN. Coincidence?

They were playing hot and heavy on the idea that the reporters in the field "only want the truth" and it is the networks that do the spin. I'll buy that in some cases since we're aware of how often footage is cut down to explosions, dead bodies and wailing family members, however, I am aware that certain folks over at a network that shall remain unnamed, do their own "in front of the camera" commentary and it continuously resembles this fake footage. I don't want to digress, though they gave the reporter the attributes of Kevin Sites (ie, reporter who filmed Marine shooting terrorist in the head when said terrorist was pretending to be dead during last years round two in Fallujah), with a little Michael Isikoff and the "flushed Koran" causing riots everywhere (ie, alleged Koran flushing incident at GITMO that sparked riots) with a dash of Daniel Perle or any other reporters taken hostage by the mujihadeen.

I will say that the blag flag with gold writing in the background looked pretty damned authentic, though a part of me wonders if the terrorist are watching this program and disparaging their appearance as sniveling boys or buffoons who can't hit anything (well, that might be true sometimes, but I'm sure their disappointed in their presentation).

1st Muj: Achmed! Achmed! Come look! New drama! It is called "Over There". I saw mujihadeen look like you!

2nd Muj: Mohammed, how can you watch such propaganda? It will turn your brain to mush. Better to spend your time praying to Allah

1st Muj: But, look, Achmed! See? That one with red checkered kafiya looks like you! He shoots like you. See he hides behind wall and shoots AK47 in "spray and pray"?

(giggling from other muj)

2nd Muj: I do not!

(more giggling)

2nd Muj: Mohammed, it is blasphemous to say "spray and pray". Don't make me chop your head off!

(chases Mohammed around mosque with rubber scimitar)

I've been concentrating on the soldiers portrayed in the program so much, I nearly forgot to look at the Muj. We could only pray that the Muj acted so stupid. This war would have been over in 2003 and we wouldn't be talking about this show.

I digress. The commander is still an idiot and Sergent Screamy was blatantly insubordinate in front of the camera man and the men. Again. It's like the "Black Sheep Squadron meets Hogan's Heroes and Gomer Pyle".

Then a colonel back at base, investigating the episode, proceeds to scream at our "Killa from Manila" smoke. Directly. No other officer present and certainly not the commander of the unit. No wonder this group is a bunch of screw ups.

Then he says something that had me set up and say, "What?"

Is it me or aren't these guys supposed to be army? I'm pretty sure that's what it says on their uniforms: US Army. But the commander threatens our erstwhile screw up with "the brig". The brig? That's a Navy term also used by the Marines for "jail". In the Army, it's a "stockade".

Probably why this unit seems to be constantly confused about their mission, who they are and how they got to Iraq. Then again, their lieutenant does seem to resemble the Marine Major from "Heart Break Ridge" who transfered over from supply and gave ol' Clint such a hard time that he called his command a "cluster f*ck".

I'm jumping around. In the beginning (geesh, I hate to say that...) the soldiers are tasked with clearing a village. As usual, there is little back up or support. No helicopters, no Air or Navy Assets, just our little squad. As they enter the town, they have no commo with the other squad from the other side. They don't coordinate. They don't do proper security on their own line. I kept waiting for a Muj to pop up behind them and cap them all in the ass. They are all also so tight in formation and hiding positions that a single RPG could have taken them out.

I realize this is a necessity of filming, condensing the action to a single camera angle (particularly when they only have a few cameras in their budget to shoot with), but I keep expecting them to "get it" any moment.

Another soldier from the squad with the lieutenant (or is it a captain? I'm confused since no one seems to refer to him with any respect) lifts up a table cloth and *BOOM* blown to bits. Pretty darn graphic actually. I wouldn't recommend that scene to any survivors or family members. Before that incident, no one has commo and they all just yell at the guy from across the road..."NNNOOOOO!!!" because even our Lost In Iraq Squad knows a bad thing is coming.

Lots of shooting. Very young boy comes out and throws a grenade, or starts to, and is then shot down. Frankly, it looked like he was shot in the back by the Muj in the doorway, but our bad boy Smoke gets the blame and is dressed down for it. Later, when the command is investigating the matter, Sergent Screamy recounts the many soldiers he knew that were shot or blown up by young girls, young boys and old women. It sounded very Vietnam or Somolia. I could have bought the "young boys" since twelve and fourteen year olds have at least been used as ammo mules and look outs, but I am very suspicious of the "girl and woman" in the list.

The Muj don't seem very interested in promoting that kind of equality for "martyrs" in the name of Allah. I mean, they might have to wonder if Allah is providing the women martyrs with 72 strapping Chippendale models and credit card at Victoria's Secret. That's just a little bit too much competition for our boys in black.

I'll leave that up to real veterans to tell us if there is any such thing.

The scene was exciting for its few minutes of shooting, though not very realistic again. Later, when the re-cut film comes out, the reporter comes to apologize to the squad and just about gets his ass kicked. I think that's why our previous vet remarking on the shows "improvement" really appreciated it. It at least showed what half the military probably wants to do every time they see a reporter. However, I am pretty sure that assaulting said reporter would be a big "no-no". Thus, a nice thought by Mr. Bochco and writers, but not realistic either.

That has to tell you the tenor of our armed forces. They have to have some major self discipline not to do it in real life.

Later, our intrepid reporter gets his interpreter shot and himself kidnapped when he tells the terrorist he meets with in the middle of the night that he knows what their plan was. As I've said of the soldiers in this program, if the reporters are this stupid, it's no wonder they get kidnapped or killed.

I'm sure some reporters were watching this program, cheering the guy on about "telling the truth" right up until he pulled his stupid stunt. Then they were on their cell phones:

"Dude! Did you see Over There tonight? That is so bogus! No reporter would act that stupid. What? Who did? Okay, but he was an idiot already. You're right, so was she. I mean, who walks through a market in Ramadi telling people they want to talk to the "freedom fighters". What? Okay, you got me on that one, he was an idiot, too. I'm not sure what he was thinking standing in the middle of the road behind a guy firing an RPG thingy.

Hey! Wait a minute! Who is this? Greyhawk?. Sorry, must have dialed the wrong number.


brogonzo said...

Hey, thanks for the link!

I've got to admit... I'd had a few beers that night, so when a friend of mine suggested that Michael Mann should have directed the show, I confused him with Michael Bay, who directed the stinker that was "Pearl Harbor."

It's okay if you think Ben Affleck's cute -- that doesn't save Pearl Harbor, though. Just like my attraction to Elisha Cuthbert couldn't save "Girl Next Door" from being patently terrible.

Again, thanks!

Kat said...

Uuugh...girl next door was terrible.

Pearl harbor even beat that. LOL

I thought the bombin scenes were pretty good on Pearl Harbor. Some torpedo shots were a little cheesy, but not bad.

No problem on the link. My pleasure.