Monday, January 12, 2009

The Unit Nukes the Fridge

The first two seasons of "The Unit" were really good fun. Interesting stories, decent technical accuracy, good writing and characterization... all in all the best fictional military show on broadcast TV (cable has done some interesting things as well of course).

Unfortunately, in season 3 you could say the show jumped the shark. It was still worth watching, but the quality of writing declined dramatically; and of course the writers strike killed season 3... though in retrospect, perhaps that was for the best.

Perhaps the change can be illustrated best in the change of theme music for season 3. Season 1 and 2 used a jody, "fired up", as the theme; and it suited the show perfectly. In season 3, they changed to an 80s'stastic, Richard Marks sounding cheese fest of a theme song, "walk the fire".

In the first two seasons, it was clear that the writers really understood the characters and situation. In the third season however, it seems that the writers had no concept of the characters they were writing, or the stories they were telling.

Frankly, most of the stories, and the actions the characters took and motivations they conveyed; simply didn't make sense.

The fourth season has only become worse. Looking at the credits, it seems that the entire writing staff from the first two seasons is gone; and at this oint the producers of the show are doing all the writing.

Not a good thing.

Today, the show definitively nuked the fridge.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, it's derived from the scene in the most recent Indiana Jones movie, where Indy survives a nuclear blast by locking himself in a refrigerator, which is then blown several miles across the landscape.

By now I'm sure most of you know the term "jumped the shark"; as that moment when a show has peaked, and is clearly on a downhill slide. Well nuking the fridge is where that slide hits a cliff.

Basically, it's something so ridiculous and stupid, that it takes an otherwise good show or movie, and completely breaks the immersion. The whole story loses credibility, and you can't take the show seriously anymore.

I understand what the writers were doing; this same story has worked for other shows before; but those shows were not supposed to be gritty, realistic, military action dramas.

I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the episode yet; but honestly, if you're a fan of the show, it's just going to disappoint and irritate you.

Looking at the list of remaining episodes for the year on IMDB or Wikipedia gives me no confidence that they will be any better.

The show is currently on a contingency basis at episode 12; with no full season order for the remainder of the year. There are currently four episodes remaining in the can, with another 8 not under contract.

There's no announcement as to whether it's going to be cancelled next year; but it's not looking good for pickup.