Quality Drama is Over There
A Look at the Hit Show on the FX Network
Written by Jon Minners
I am a big time war buff. Civil War, World War II and my personal favorite, the Vietnam War, fascinate me to no end. The action, the explosions, the characters that sacrifice their lives for the good of their country; it all makes for compelling drama, so it only makes sense that I would enjoy some wonderful dramas as The North and The South, Platoon, Band of Brothers and series like China Beach and Tour of Duty. Add the war in Iraq to the mix. While I actually do not agree with the war, a show like Over There has totally captivated me, making me anticipate each show ever Wednesday night on the FX Network. Funny thing is I donít even get the FX Network.
Being a Bronx boy, Cablevision has not seen it fit to provide me with the home of Buffy the Vampire repeats and hit shows like Rescue Me, The Shield, Nip/Tuck, 30 Days and my new favorite Over There, an ensemble drama about the members of an Army unit on their first tour of duty in Iraq. Focusing on the challenges the soldiers face, examining the effects of war on them and their families at home, the series explores the physical, emotional and cultural issues associated with the war without taking sides in the constant controversy on whether the war should be fought or not. This first scripted series set in a current, ongoing war involving the United States, the series has me begging my friends with Time Warner to tape the show and let me get a look. Now, I am hooked.
The series was created by Steven Bochco, the hit maker behind NYPD Blue and so many dramas before it. This is the first drama Bochco has produced for a basic cable network and he, along with fellow producer Chris Gerolmo, have hit a homerun. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Josh Henderson (Girl Next Door as Bo; Luke Macfarlane (Kinsey) as Dim; Erik Palladino (ER) as Sergeant Scream; Keith Robinson (American Dreams) as Angel; Kirk ďStickyĒ Jones (Onyx and Platinum) as Smoke; Lizette Carrion (NYPD Blue) as Doublewide; Nicki Aycox (Providence) as Mrs. B; Omid Abtahi (24) as Tariq; Spraque Grayden (Six Feet Under) as Terry; Brigid Brannagh (CSI) as Vanessa Dumphy; Lombardo Boyar (The Bernie Mac Show) as Sergio Del Rio; and Jimmy ďJaxĒ Pinchak (Family Affair) as Eddy; Over There goes where no primetime drama can go, getting as close to real as possibly for a group of people who have never fought a war before. What you get is real language, real action, intense drama and downright disturbing imagery. I could not believe the scene where Boís muscle is dangling right out of his leg after an explosion.
Now, while I must admit to liking the show because all the soldiers seem to have nicknames, kind of like GI-Joe, but more realistically, I also just enjoyed the way the characters drag you in and keep you locked to the screen. Right now, Doublewide, Smoke, Bo, Tariq and Dim have me tuning in each and every week. I also enjoy how each episode just really hits home. You get all the aspects of war; not just the battles overseas, but the ones inside your heart and the ones back home. I was shocked when the character I thought was going to be in battle from beginning to end, ended up in a VA Hospital where his characterís story didnít end, but rather, took on a new meaning. I am really enjoying the storyline involving Sergio Del Rio as he struggles with his wife, Doublewide, being in a war, and seeks help from a support group where it is rare to find husbands. I am also disgusted by what is going on with Dimís family; it is quite unnerving. Poor guy. Luke Macfarlane has really broken out as the character to watch.
Each episode is also very well crafted, staying fresh with different assignments and different interactions. Besides the initial episode that got us into the action, my favorite episode right now is Roadblock Duty, which kind of takes on a crime mystery, as the team must guard a remote checkpoint to prevent any insurgents from escaping town. This was an intense episode, because every car that went by brought about a scare and the introduction of an Arab officer brought about an interesting twist. Can he be trusted? And is he the soldier they should be worried about?
I got a tape with episodes four and five just waiting for my undivided attention and I canít wait to go Over There, without actually having to be there. I have never been glued to a screen so much and to think, there are 10 more episodes for me to watch. In war, anything can happen. Who will die? Who will join the cast? What new surprises lie around the corner? I donít know, but I canít wait to find out.