“The Unit”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
September 19, 2006

Full of action, intrigue, and espionage, The Unit offers a dramatic, fictionalized look inside the military while also giving viewers a peek inside the private lives of the elite squad. Conceived by the critically acclaimed David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Games), the Unit is an elite, covert Special Forces team that operates outside the military chain of command.

The first season’s 13 episodes offer insight into the characters without revealing too much about the men who make up the operation. Are they extremely patriotic, or are they adrenalin junkies who have to be in danger to feel validated? The answer probably falls somewhere in between, and the viewer gets the feeling that as much as the men love their wives and children, it’s their jobs that give them their true reason for living.

Led by veteran Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert, 24), the Unit deals with terrorism, rescue missions, and assassinations quickly, discreetly, and efficiently. If all goes well, someone else gets the credit. If things go awry, it’s their necks on the line. In the first season of The Unit–which aired from March to May 2006 as a mid-season replacement–the action is fast, the plot is succinct, and the acting is well done (when dealing with the deadly missions).

It’s the secondary storyline involving the wives that’s less successful. The newest member of the Unit, Bob Brown (Scott Foley, Felicity), apparently didn’t fill his wife Kim (Audrey Marie Anderson) in on what their new life would be like. From the beginning, she resists the hoo rah attitude that the other wives exhibit. But rather than coming across as an independent free thinker, she is presented as a whining drip of a woman who has no clue about the definition of a secret.

Of course, when faced with the military’s version of The Stepford Wives, who could blame her? As Jonas’ supportive wife Molly, Regina Taylor (I’ll Fly Away, Courage Under Fire) is less sympathetic than usual. In the early episodes, she comes across as an almost stalkerish busybody who is always there when Kim is trying to cope with a life she never wanted.

Throw in an affair between commanding officer Colonel Tom Ryan (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and one of the wives and you’ve got the makings of a military soap opera.

The show is at its best when it concentrates on the men and their missions. We may not understand why they do what they do, but we’re grateful that someone is doing the dangerous job for us.

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