Thursday, August 04, 2005

Over There

I have now watched the first two episodes of the hyped new FX series "Over There." I have to admit that it is, so far, unimpressive.
The first episode made sense--getting to know the soldiers as they say goodbye to their families and understanding their respective family situations. First episodes of TV shows are general forgettable and unnecessary in long-run of a show. However, the second episode should build a great deal more on the characters that are introduced in the first. This series failed to do so.
There were quite a few characters to remember in the first episode (in fact, I can't recall many of their names or nicknames). There were half the number in the second. This brings the question: What happened to the other characters? What about the two women and their dilemmas in combat? They disappeared in the second episode--aside from a brief moment at the beginning.
I am having a little difficulty with the character "Smoke." This is the inner city, black man who tends to turn any conversation into a racial debate. It's fine that they have a character who is proud of his heritage, but this one is also against all others--he's anti-white and anti-Arab. He has no respect (or any hint of it) for anyone but his own. And they didn't balance this out with an Arab-hating white guy. But just to be safe, they added the educated Arab American.
It is almost impossible to connect to any character yet. They are all superficial. The series seems to make its aim at fictionalizing news reports without any human element. I'm sure I've read about all the action that's happened in the show so far. All it has done is put a nameless face on the war.
I should mention that there is one character who is almost sympathetic--the soldier whose name can't be remembered, but he's the one who got his leg blown off in the first episode. A viewer can see how bad his emotional state is and sympathize with his predicament. However, there is still not enough to connect with him.
"Over There" is just a show about a war--retelling everything we've read in newspapers and watched on TV news. There is no connection to the audience, which is exactly what they claimed to do with the show. To be successful, a show must have a human element. The writers of the show are forgetting this. I will continue to watch it, at least to give it another chance for redemption. If it doesn't get better in the next week or two, I'm changing the channel.

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