Author Topic: [Television] Generation Kill  (Read 833 times)

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Offline GuineaPig

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[Television] Generation Kill
« on: June 24, 2010, 12:06:17 PM »
I haven't seen enough TV to speculate on how it might stack up against all the medium has had to offer, but to me the 7 hour-long episodes of this phenomenal program might be as close to a perfect narrative as there has been in history, and in my mind is certainly the best miniseries of the past decade.  Set just before and during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Generation Kill follows a battalion of Marine Recons from Kuwait to Baghdad during the early stages of the war.  Focusing on Bravo Company, and in particular, the Humvee commanded by Sgt. Brad Colbert (an excellent Alexander Skarsgård), the story is adapted from the novel of the same name by journalist Evan Wright who was embedded in said Humvee.  More importantly, it was adopted by David Simon and Ed Burns; the creative team that headed The Wire, and previously, another excellent miniseries in The Corner.

The miniseries can be frustrating, confusing, and sometimes difficult to watch.  However, it is imbued in such an air of authenticity that it is impossible to avoid getting connected to the characters long before you have names to match the faces.  Similar to The Wire, there is a massive amount of supporting characters, and with relatively little exposition, I am still picking up names I didn't catch before on my 4th full go-through.  The main characters are the previously-mentioned Colbert, his RTO and driver Ray (James Ransone), the journalist Evan Wright (Lee Tergesen), and the squad light machine gunner Trombley.  Beyond that, there is the battalion commander, Col. "Godfather" Ferrando (named for his raspy voice), as well as other grunts and officers of Bravo and Alpha Company.

The stand-out performance of this show is definitely Skarsgård, and necessarily so; the narrative rests on Colbert's shoulders as the team leader of the characters the viewer spends the most time with.  Always calm, level-headed, and professional, the "Iceman" projects a quiet strength that is protective rather than menacing.  His driver, Ray, in comparison, is a crazy, manic chatterbox who bickers about everything and anything, and tends to verbalize long, tangential thought processes when high on a lack of sleep and an overabundance of Ripped Fuel.  Their relationship is an interesting and often hilarious one, and is a principal foundation of the series.  Other colourful personalities include Trombley, a trigger happy and somewhat crazy Lance Corporal, Espera, a quasi-Native American philosophical rambler, Fick, a competent and serious Lieutenant, and at the opposite end of him Capt. Dave "Captain America" McGraw, a babbling, cowardly and often hysterical fellow platoon commander.  There about a couple dozen other personalities I could extol upon, but I'll keep it to those handful.  The characters are engrossing, flawed, and (with the exception of a few) universally loveable in their defects.

Another interesting aspect I should touch upon is the dialogue.  First of all, it's fantastic; avoiding lazy exposition (with the exception of a little at the start, and also some of the 6th episode) and clichés, the dialogue flows naturally and feels realistic.  It's lewd and crude beyond comparison, but also often hilarious and heartbreaking.  The DVD comes with a much needed glossary, as those not brushed up on their military jargon or alphabet will have some difficulty with dialogue like "Hitman-Victors are Oscar-Mike in 5 Mikes."  It's also incredibly layered; it's not infrequent that there will be 3 or 4 conversations occurring at the same time, and so you'll catch bits and pieces of dialogue (that are frequently hilarious) that you missed the first time around, making re-watches always a treat.

Another point: it's difficult to watch this miniseries without projecting politics onto it, but I think the honest intention of the creators was to avoid it.  There's no real scenes that enforce commentary on the viewer; no bleeding heart liberalism, or callous conservatism.  While the creators must have had their internal biases, it seems to me they did their utmost to keep them out of the final product, and while it may be tempting to interpret a certain line or scene as being political, it's more that the series is just utterly frank in its presentation.  And really, with some of the crazy and heartbreaking stuff that happens in the show, it would be nice to believe that its presentation was motivated by politics.

Generation Kill is a masterpiece.  It completely changes the notions of conventional war storytelling, avoiding clichés, politics, and judgment on characters and events.  It's as mature a contemplation of war the world has seen since All Quiet on the Western Front, and utterly overshadows it's HBO counterpart Band of Brothers.  Phenomenal, phenomenal TV.

10/10
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Offline SPNKr

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Re: [Television] Generation Kill
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2010, 09:34:35 PM »
I knew it is like Band Of Brothers. These shows are awesome.