TV Tonight: FX's "Over There"
Tonight's 10 pm premiere of FX's new drama, "Over There," is unlike any other TV show about war you've ever seen. It's more like Platoon or Saving Private Ryan in its graphic depictions of the Iraq war and soldiers in actual battle. But then again, it's cable.
The series follows a sergeant and his eight soldiers as they navigate their way through the war, dodging mortar shells, blasting Iraqi troops to smithereens, and getting blown up with landmines and ambushes. Viewers get emotionally tied to each of the soldiers as they interact with their families back home and talk about their personal lives.
Creator Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue"), whose target audience is American soldiers fighting in Iraq, says the show doesn't take a political stance about the war. But there are telltale signs of a message. While shooting his gun at a group of Iraqis, the Sergeant yells, "We didn't come for your oil -- we came to kick your ass." A soldier tells his wife in a video email, "We're monsters, and war is what unmasks us. But there's a kind of honor in it too, a kind of grace." The New York Times nailed the overall position: Hate the war, love the troops. The Times also said the danger of the show, with its expertly filmed battle scenes sometimes overshadowing the soldiers, was that "some viewers could end up loving the war as much as they love the troops."
It's an important question: Does the show bring the atrocities of Iraq to life for an American audience that has been largely unaffected by the war, or does it seem like a "commercial abuse of a raw and unresolved national calamity"? And what about the show's depiction of Iraqi fighters as anonymous brown enemies whose dead bodies are unfeelingly filmed? If you see the show tonight, come back and tell us what you thought.