On discovering the existence of 'OVER THERE' I was indeed very cynical. Even before viewing this dramatisation uncovering the events of the US forces in Iraq, I took refuge in the dead ground and dived for the trenches of scepticism and dismissal. My rationale was that any mini-series production thrown together by a US network through the duration of the conflict it hoped to portray MUST be too politically gauged and idealistic to be of any valuable content. More of concern was the absence of the Sky Digital service at home to provide access to Sky One.
Curiosity & the advertised DVD box set grabbed my attention & I decided to call a truce & give 'OVER THERE' a whirl. Having now viewed two thirds of the boxset I feel now capable of raising my hands above my head & coming out of the trenches. Within the first 4-5 episodes I was struck by the complexity of the characters and their diversity. This is most definitely not the A-Team, where warehouses full of ammunition are expended yet everyone returns from firefights for tea & medals. It is also equal to warfare factor and a little sharper in terms of gore and graphic conflict that the 80s US network success 'TOUR OF DUTY', based on the Vietnam War.
Yes, this is drama & nothing viewed through the sight apeture of a camera (or indeed a rifle) can be seen as entirely realistic. 'OVER THERE' deals with the not just the Iraq conflict, but also addresses the family hardships, the morals and dilemmas of Troops, Spouses, Family, Friends, Commanders, Civilians, the Innocent and the guilty. This is all in a cocktail of grassrooted Western ideas and authority, in conflict with a religiously emersed population, suffering the conflict of an insurgency, conducting business with a total disregard for life and negotiation.
Ultimately, it portrays the heros as being flawed. None of the main characters seem to be above moral scrutiny, but if any point is driven home it is that in difficult situations demanding split second reactions, damage limitation and the outcome preserving life and the survival of those closest is paramount. The main character of distinction Sgt Scream, played by Eric Palladino is nothing less that outstanding. Scream, as with most of the cast falls foul of having to deliver some of those typcially cheesy lines that make the audience question the whether military personnel talk in such a cliched and embarassing fashion. Intellect is provided by 'Dim' Dumphy, and there's the added racial complexity of having Tariq Nassiri, a US soldier of arab desent on the home team. Eye candy takes it's uniformed stature in Brenda 'Mrs B' Mitchell with the big-boned 'Doublewide' providing the ditsy female figure. Angel, an african amercian idealist is counterbalanced by his 'brutha' Stone, a more L.A. 'gansta' personality.
Each episode does draw attention to each of the main characters separately and applies the pressures of the Iraq conflict and their own personal circumstances to test the credentials of the production and the depth of character profile. Notably, the salient tone is that underneath the hard shell, there's an idealist, a crusader, not necessarily dealing with the 'American Dream' with the struggle of individuals with an everyday existence against a back-drop of a very evident psuedo-slaughter.
'OVER THERE' will not re-write the annals of mini-series format, but it doesn't attempt to & it fairly represents the views and circumstances of what Iraq is to those involved in serving their country and those civilians effected by the hideousness of insurgent conflict. I hope you find 'OVER THERE' as enjoyable as have.