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July 26, 2014

Generation Kill: Get Some (mini-series premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jul 13th 2008 10:28PM

Generation Kill
(Part 1 of 7) "Marines! Kill on three! One! Two! Threeeeee....!" - Sgt. Maj. John Sixta

HBO doesn't have much going on right now. They're lacking hits. There are some new favorites out there that have wowed critics, but lack viewers, like In Treatment, Flight of the Conchords, and Tell Me You Love Me. The ruling days of Tony Soprano, Nate Fisher, Carrie Bradshaw, and Al Swearengen are done. Once the fall season starts off, the veteran Entourage will make a welcome return and HBO is also putting a lot of faith in Alan Ball's new drama, True Blood - a vampire saga that is, if you ask me, almost doomed to fail. HBO doesn't exactly have a stellar track record with specialized dramas that demand niche audiences. Regardless, it hasn't slowed them down. HBO Films' last effort John Adams was well received and now comes Generation Kill, based on the book of the same name by Rolling Stone's Evan Wright. I've read it, twice, and it's a damn shame this is only a mini-series because it's the best thing on TV this summer.

After going through some serious Wire withdrawal back in April when I previewed this mini-series, I was giddy to find out that David Simon and Ed Burns were behind GK. Right from the very first scenes that was apparent. Remember the beginning of The Wire? McNulty sat on a stoop with that young hopper, asking about why they kept letting the now deceased Snot Boogie shoot dice fully knowing that he'd try and steal the pot. The answer? "Got to. It's America man."

Fast-forward to Generation Kill, as Sgt. Tony Espera whizzes into the wind, staring at remnants from the first war in Iraq, and spouting wisdom at the same time: "It's destiny dawg - white man's gotta rule the world." Everyone is entitled to have a shot. Talk about two scenes that mirror each other.

It's understandable why Simon chose to adapt Wright's book as his next project because it shares so much in common with his past works. Camp Mathilda is just another Baltimore. Sgt. Brad Colbert and Cpl. Ray Person love to question authority just as much as McNulty and Freamon. And speaking of authority... nothing has changed there either. Themes of ineptitude, indecisiveness, and uncertainty run high in the Iraqi deserts too. They have poor equipment (woodland camo instead of desert) and poor leadership.

I'm not sure if scary is the right word, and obviously this is still an adaptation of someone's first-hand account, but it's amazing to me, to see who's in charge. Even if these characters are 50% of who they're based on, then my jaw is still on the floor - Sixta and "Captain America" are real people. To think that an obsession over keeping a clean moustache could lead to essential batteries for night vision goggles being forgotten is just... wow. Anyone willing to make the argument that goatees lose wars, please do.

What we're getting here is a step above unflinching. This has the feeling of real to it, even more so than the short-lived Over There on FX. Today's marines are hopped up on packets of Ripped Fuel, they're willing to pay $10 for a cheese slice from a Kuwaiti Pizza Hut, and they don't mind wearing adult diapers since getting in and out of their chemical protection MOPP suits is too much of a hassle. As the Avril Lavigne singing Cpl. Person put it, they're "America's pitbull."

For those that have read the book, I think you'll agree with me when I say that the one part that feels off to me is that we're losing that first person perspective of Wright. Because of the process required to re-tell this story, he's become just another minor character in the giant cast. Staying true to Wright's account though, it was hilarious watching Lee Tergesen fumble around in his MOPP suit, pull the crotch strap too tight, fall over, and choke down his dip after he forgot to spit it out before putting on his gas mask.

A few more random thoughts...

  • Who thought "Fruity" Rudy Reyes was good looking? According to Person, it's OK because they all do. In all seriousness though, Reyes is playing himself. The guy was there the first time around. Crazy.
  • Meesh is the only translator for all of First Recon. Insane.
  • Maybe I'm way off here, but was J. Lo ever that big of a deal? Would you be torn up if she were dead? I loved how all the Marines thought that a.) she was indeed gone and b.) the media was in on it and their decision to not report on it was to keep American military morale up.
  • I loved when Lt. Fick looked at Wright after they "unsurrendered" the Iraqis and said, "Write that as you see it. We're not here to stop you." Thank God, or else I wouldn't be writing this.
  • CHARMS candy are bad luck. Remember that.

One part down and six to go. If this continues to stay true to the book (and based on the press mailings I received, it's going to), then we're in for one hell of a ride. Even just consider what we saw in this premiere - the opening training sequence, the NVG shots, and the nighttime battles. "Eye candy" seems like the wrong phrase because of the subject matter, but you get what I'm saying.

Kill!!

So far, who's your favorite Marine?
Sgt. Brad 'Iceman' Colbert155 (41.0%)
Cpl. Ray Person91 (24.1%)
Sgt. Rudy Reyes35 (9.3%)
Lt. Col. Stephen 'Godfather' Ferrando29 (7.7%)
1st Lt. Nate Fick51 (13.5%)
somone else...17 (4.5%)

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Vic Warner

SgtMaj Sixta...... Hahahahahahahahaha! Very Accurate! Ain't got shit on SgtMaj Frank Pulley though! Pulley is a demi-God. I've never met a funnier character. He threw everything on his desk at me once. Shit just flew by my head and bounced off the bulkhead behind me. He was chewing my ass for sticking up for a black Marine Corporal at an NJP. Pulley called him a big dick pimp daddy who was single handedly destroying the CORPS! Hahahahahahahahahaha! He actually said... "thank you very much, can Pulley be in charge for a while!!????" He told me that he would pray that the Cpl in question didn't screw up again before he got out of the Corps because if he did I was a DEADMAN!!!!

July 28 2008 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kip

If you're going to read the book, you need to also read Lt. Fick's book One Bullet Away. Much better written and by someone who was actually there to fight a war, who did fight and kill , rather than to report it for a magazine that has long been irrelevant.

July 14 2008 at 9:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kip's comment
StillBash

*snicker*

"Fick" translates to F**K in german

I know I behave like a three-year-old

July 14 2008 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shawn

Great show, have not read the book but I may just have to look into that! Well acted and very well put together. I would recommend this to anyone!

July 14 2008 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beanie

I really liked this premiere. But, I'm afraid HBO doesn't. I hardly saw it promoted leading up to it, it definitely didn't get the promotion that True Blood is getting, maybe I just missed it, but, it seems like HBO isn't too excited about it.

July 14 2008 at 1:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Beanie's comment
Nathaniel

Are you kidding? There were like 5-minute promos between everything! In fact, seeing a promo for it on an airplane between features is one of the reasons I decided to pay for HBO this summer.

You're right about True Blood, though. That's even more everywhere.

July 14 2008 at 2:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cray

i have failed to miss an episode. i read the review in EW, and since then, i cannot miss it. n-e-body know where i can download the episodes so i can keep them on my computer? dont have HBO, so i have to catch the show on the internet.

August 26 2008 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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