Friday, April 03, 2009
Generation Kill - Stay frosty! If you love The Wire and can handle the bad CGI, you'll love this
The Wire being on terrestrial telly is truly odd, I think. People are saying 'it's rubbish', having watched three episodes, clearly without ever hearing Wiremeister David Simon's brutal dismissals of 'the average viewer', in whom he claims not even to be slightly interested.
In fact, it's not a series for watching casually on the box; it's for watching, seriously, via the DVD boxed set. You have to immerse yourself in it, taking on two or three epsidoes at a time, to get the full effect. And once in, there's no way out. Not for you, not for anyone in Baltimore...
For those struggling with series one, the arrival of Omar should signal the beginning of absolute addiction...though I have to say, for me the peaks are seasons two and five. Three and four see the moral agenda being hammered just a little too hard...
...meanwhile, on to the next David Simon and Ed Burns show, Generation Kill, based on the book (which is pretty good, but not as good as the series) by Evan Wright, an 'embedded' Rolling Stone journalist with the First Recon Marines in the Second Iraq War.
Like in The Wire, you have to get to know the various characters, and this time you're basically stuck in a Humvee with them. It's like Black Watch crossed with Three Kings, only much, much better. And you don't have to go a bloody theatre. Also like The Wire, once you're involved with these people, good and bad, abandoning them becomes unthinkable.
The DVD boxed set is pretty dear just now, but I would say essential viewing. Love the details: all the marines' info comes from BBC World Service radio. The commander ends up addicted to cricket coverage.
"Gentlemen. From now on, we're going to have earn our stories..."
Couple of things: the acting and the South African location filming are superb, but the CGI interludes are clunky as anything. Why didn't they use news footage? And interesting to see former BBC Scotland drama head Andrea Calderwood as producer. As I said somewhere else, I remember when an aggrieved Peter MacDougall, writer of the wonderful Just a Boy's Game etc, referred to her disaparagingly as 'a wee girl'. Ironic to see her in charge of a series which out-swears, out-machos and, I fear, outclasses anything MacDougall has ever done...