"The Unit": In need of unity

March 21, 2006, midnight | By Alexis Egan | 14 years, 3 months ago

CBS show appealing but lacks depth

Imagine a group of selfless men tirelessly defending our nation from terrorism, dedicating their lives to the protection of American lives. These heroes are members of an elite military team, a team that does not exist in the outside world, known only as The Unit.

The pilot episode of "The Unit" revolves around Bob Brown (Scott Foley) and Jonas Blane (Dennis Haysbert), members of a secret military force, as they complete their first mission together. Meanwhile, Brown's wife, Kim (Audrey Anderson), is struggling to accept her new life in the military complex in living conditions she would prefer to change.

CBS sets "The Unit" apart from other television shows by easily targeting both male and female viewers with the promise of action and stories of the soldiers' wives. Broad action sequences with little relation to the actual plot open the show and then are swiftly contrasted with the female perspective. This technique allows the show to broaden its fan base and its plotline, but the placement of female characters and the subsequent emotional bonding that occurs feels forced and unrealistic.

Despite the show's targeting factor, it seems too much like a made-for-TV movie due to its mediocre acting and conventional storyline. Every plot event, such as Blane's conveniently close location to a hostage crisis, seems too manufactured to be plausible to the viewer; even the relationships between soldiers that develop are predictable, particularly between Blane and Brown's wives.

Telling the story behind U.S. Special Forces should be intriguing, but "The Unit" executes the idea poorly. Scenes sporadically and drastically fluctuate between action-packed shot-outs and average, unimportant discussion. CBS wants to avoid a show dedicated solely to either action or domestic issues, but the show struggles to find the perfect mix of the two.

Even in the segments meant to be suspenseful, viewers cannot help but wonder how, for example, one man can take down an elite terrorist group with only a handgun. The whole script seems full of impossibly fake moments (for example, a woman not knowing that she is pregnant), which detract from the show's attempt at "realistic" appeal.

"The Unit" makes up for its scripted feel through impressive special effects, which are used extensively throughout the show. Graphic bombs, striking aircrafts and authentic-looking towns are common, impressing viewers. Additionally, high-tech military gear is used frequently, creating a semi-realistic feel, as far as setting is concerned.

Though the core concept of the show feels new and original, many of the characters fall into stereotypes. The spoiled Kim Brown befriends Molly (Regina Taylor), Blane's wife, whose eventual help is foreseeable. Haysbert plays the stereotypical gruff captain who mentors the predictably unsure novice Brown, a pairing that feels both forced and unoriginal.

Although the show's unbalanced and scripted feel lessens its appeal, "The Unit" is still an undeniably interesting program. Few television shows deal with the personal lives of the men who fight terrorism. If television viewers are getting tired of watching formulaic criminal mysteries and trashy teen dramas, "The Unit" might be a good choice to watch, for a time. After a few episodes, even the high levels of violence and sex will not be able to save the show from a predictable flop, so enjoy it while you can.

"The Unit" airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Alexis Egan. Alexis is a (very) short junior, who is very pleased to be writing for Chips Online with all her friends. Along with writing, her other hobbies are playing soccer, reading about Mount Everest and listening to any Irish music. Her favorite movie is The Princess … More »

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