This is the first time a TV series has portrayed and on-going war. The FX TV network and Steven Bochco wants to give the audience a feel of what it is like "Over There is Iraq". After the first two episodes, FX has not been able to get it right. The show is stuck as we see the Hollywood version of war, mixed in with a Cop drama with flawed characters Steven Bochco is famous for (L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue).
Having been "Over There" in 2003 during OIF 1 and having seen a good part of Iraq, "Over There" has some choice moments, but a great many flaws. So much so that playing a game of catch a mistake has become a game for OIF veterans. The show is savable but many things need to be fixed. The characters are broken and do not represent professional US soldiers. Tactics and training, SOP (standard operating procedures) seems non-existent. The local culture, both for soldiers and Iraqi is weak, and the terrain the story is filmed on does not represent the places in Iraq 3rd Infantry Division currently controls.
The Characters are broken, supposing to represent a squad of replacement soldier sent to Iraq. What commander in their right mind would bunch the 'New Guys" together when other squads are not at full strength? One African American soldier is a liar, drunk and bigot. Racial tension and ill discipline are so bad that it leads to a knife fight at the roadblock. Female soldiers are poorly represented as emotional and undisciplined who will screw up and you will be lucky not to be killed. Where is the wife with 2+ kids, being both mother and father, try to keep the family together. When the soldier left their love ones where were the tear of separation.
These soldier act as a gaggle and not a squad of trained soldiers. The soldiers are sent on missions with no briefing or planning. No one knows the SOPs (standard operating procedures) or it don't exist. No one has ever been in a convoy. No real interval between vehicles. They stopped almost bumper to bumper. When the convoy turned around, no one in the convoy was in charge, no rehearsals, just a big cluster. In real life, they would have practiced the convoy, especially for new folks.
In the first episode when facing the Mosque, tactics went out the window. When on foot they bunched up continuously. When they assaulted on line there was almost no interval between the troops. Also laying against a berm is not digging in considering you're going to be there a while. We see an Al Jazeera new man even though they have been kicked out of the country. And finally a "BEER RUN" give me a break. Alcohol is available on the street, if you want to go blind. Beer is a big no-no. Plus near beer is readily available.
In the second episode and the roadblock, one question, who set this mess up? Its a road block, where's the Bradley or the 50 cal. NO heavy weapons, all the ones I saw in Iraq had at least one heavy weapon and usually a Bradley. Weapons carried by soldiers have difficulty stopping cars and trucks, and wouldn't do nearly the damage. We see in this episode. No zigzag entering the checkpoint especially given the fact where is a long straight road leading to it. A bad guy speeding down the road would murder the soldiers defending it like this. What ROE are these guys following? Where is the light set or vehicle headlight to sign a driver to stop?
The culture both for the soldier and Iraqi is missing. The soldiers have camel backs on, but their flat and empty. No one ever takes a drink. The feeding hose is not hooked to the front of the vest. Yet the characters say its 120 degrees. Telling a wife over the phone that her husband is wounded. Where is the causality assistance officer/team? A spouse on FT Stewart not being taken care of? Don't think so. IED with little white flags - no. Better to show the bomber over the hill watching and setting the IED off with wires and car battery. Headlights, many Iraqi vehicles don't have working lights. Arab women drive at night without a male. NO way. That POW spoke real good English. It makes war so much easier when the POW speaks your language better than you.
The terrain where the first two episodes took place is not the part of Iraq 3rd ID is working. Baghdad and north have a lot of bleach green vegetation, especially the 2-foot tall grass along the sides of the road. Where are the kids, anywhere some troops are gathered, locals will be coming up selling stuff and kids looking for candy will show up.
The show has many faults, myself and other only hope FX can get "Over There" at least partly right. Its one thing for OIF veteran to share stories and show pictures, but to have a TV series to help family and friend appreciate what we have seen and been through would be huge benefit. It might be a stretch, but I hope "Over There" might show some of the good things we have done over there. But I won't hold my breath.
Also that theme song, I want to like it but it really sucks.