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Generation Kill


smith_chip
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Generation Kill starts tonight on HBO. It is based on the Evan Wright book of the same name. Wright was an embedded journalist with the Marines' First Recon Battalion who were the "tip of the spear" in the Iraq invasion. Sepinwall's preview can be found here.

...For his part, Wright insists, "My intent was not to expose mismanagement, nor do I think there was mismanagement per se. I think war is a very imprecise undertaking. The military cannot do everything perfectly. What to some people will appear as mismanagement, it's just that the military is not perfect. People will make good decisions where inevitably people will die. I was trying to say, 'This is what happens in war, when even the best-trained people with the best intentions make mistakes.'"

Because of the book's sprawling cast of characters and its focus on institutional clumsiness and the difficulty that ground-level troops sometimes have with their superiors, teaming Wright with Simon and Burns - who spent five years detailing those themes with "The Wire" - turned out to be a perfect fit...

..."There's such a disconnect between the public and the military," says Wright. "The public is wary of war films because they don't want to be lectured to about how the war sucks, or Bush is stupid or the war is great. I think they're fed up with that approach to the Iraq war. So we're just trying to introduce them to these guys in that moment of time."

Another TV blogger, Maureen Ryan, recommends having some references handy while watching Generation Kill, especially at first. She posted links to things that HBO sent to critics (glossaries, maps, organization charts, rosters of the Marines, etc.) It kind of makes me wonder how successful the miniseries is if you need all of these other references to understand what's happening, but I guess we can find out tonight.

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Another TV blogger, Maureen Ryan, recommends having some references handy while watching Generation Kill, especially at first. She posted links to things that HBO sent to critics (glossaries, maps, organization charts, rosters of the Marines, etc.) It kind of makes me wonder how successful the miniseries is if you need all of these other references to understand what's happening, but I guess we can find out tonight.

On a hunch, I have a feeling that Generation Kill will have a learning curve similar to The Wire; that is, that Burns/Simon production constantly used slang and localisms, enough to warrant some people to feel the need to outline them often in blogs. I have a feeling that if you were able to get by in The Wire, you'll be fine with this show.

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On a hunch, I have a feeling that Generation Kill will have a learning curve similar to The Wire; that is, that Burns/Simon production constantly used slang and localisms, enough to warrant some people to feel the need to outline them often in blogs. I have a feeling that if you were able to get by in The Wire, you'll be fine with this show.

You definitely had to learn how to watch The Wire. I have no doubt that fans of The Wire (which always had a small audience) will be fine watching Generation Kill, but part of the objective of this miniseries seems to me to introduce the American public to this generation of Marines. I agree with something I read somewhere, it wouldn't hurt to have a scene where the reporter is introduced to the members of the battalion. I like it that Simon refuses to hold his audience's hand, though. I didn't feel too lost. I imagine that now that they have left Camp Mathilda, it will be easier to keep everyone straight.

Last night's episode just set the stage. James Ransone's character is not very far removed from Ziggy, although Ziggy was not nearly smart enough to be in a recon unit. It took me out of the story every time his character said something that I could imagine coming out of Ziggy's mouth. Other than that, it made me excited to watch the rest of the series.

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  • 4 years later...

I've been rewatching this with a couple friends. I'm still impressed at how good it is (and at how many things they get so right). It's more intelligent than I remembered.

My favorite part of the dynamics of the series is the consciences of the marines being personified by Sgt. Colbert, Sgt. Espera, and 'Doc' Bryan. They hold the rest of the men (and their own officers) up to the moral standards they believe they all ought to be held up to. They're the moral leaders in each of their respective platoons. I didn't see how clear this was the first time I watched it, but now it's really sinking in.

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