The recently canceled Over There was a lugubrious military drama about how terrible it is that our boys have to fight, what a horrible toll it puts on families, and how war is hell. But now we have The Unit (Tuesdays, 9:00 ET, CBS), a show that does not hide from the dangers of war and the difficulties it imposes on military families, but that celebrates the courage, skills, and prowess of American soldiers.
The series is based on Inside Delta Force by Eric Haney, one of the founding members of that elite-and secret-Special Forces unit. While the wives on The Unit have to adjust to a secret life, their husbands set off on hair-raising missions-lighting up Taliban targets for smart bombs in Afghanistan; rescuing hostages on an airliner seized by suicide bombers; battling Latino drug lords. We see the cool professionalism and ingenious tactics of these well-trained, heroic Rangers. The scenes jump between the men on their mission and their families back at the base, showing the valor necessary on both fronts.
What a good filmmaker like series creator David Mamet can do with this material is evident in the scene when Sgt. Jonas Blane, the leader of the team (played by Dennis Haysbert), breaks into the terrorist-held airliner packed with passengers. The action would only last for a few heartbeats, so Mr. Mamet switches to slow motion, showing with skillful editing each decision Sgt. Blane has to make.
As he fires his pistol, he has to pick out who is a terrorist and who isn't, shoot to miss the human shields but hit their captors, and stop the terrorist who holds the detonator. All of which he does, within seconds. The Unit will inspire viewers not only to support the troops but to appreciate them.