I've been watching The Unit for a while now. It, of course, is based on - but for legal reasons, isn't actually about - the US's Delta Force special forces unit. It's a hard, manly series exec produced by David Mamet. After a cracking pilot episode written by Mamet, the series dipped a bit, but is right back on target (did you see what I did there?), thanks in particular to some nifty scripts by Lynn Mamet, David Mamet's sister. It's not fantastically realistic, but it's still pretty enjoyable.
But on Saturday evening, Ultimate Force returned to our screens for its fourth season. Ultimate Force stars Ross Kemp as the leader of an SAS unit and it's supposed to be hard and manly as well. So I tuned in to compare and contrast our depiction of our most daring crack troops with the US's depiction of theirs.
Oh sweet merciful Jesus. We are rubbish. We are the laughing stock of the world.
I haven't really watched ITV in a long time. Every time I have, it's been like playing a Lottery scratchcard: most of the time, it's a complete waste of time and money and a bitter disappointment. Occasionally, you might win a quid, but that's the best you'll ever do. And with respected writer Jimmy McGovern (Cracker) arguing that primetime ITV drama is rubbish, I wasn't going to change my mind on that very soon. Nevertheless, duty called so I watched Ultimate Force.
I don't think mere words can really convey just how bad it was. As Sam whotsit on The Guardian said on Monday, it's impossible to watch without a massive smirk on your face the whole way through, it's just so bad. So to convey our true awfulness when we actually try to compete with the US, I thought I would go for a photoroman approach, in the style of La Jetée (which I actually fell asleep during, so I can't be sure this is very much like it).
This is Dennis Haysbert, the star of The Unit
This is Ross Kemp
To quote the lovely Marie, “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA” .
Or if you prefer, “hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha”
Now let's look at The Unit's attempts to do abroad. I've already commented on this once but they're getting better:
You could kind of believe that was a favella in the background, couldn't you? Now let's look at Ultimate Force's stab at 'abroad':
It's just depressing. Any country insane enough to buy Ultimate Force is going to think Ross Kemp is the best action hero we've got! The Germans have more action-packed police shows than this: they have Der Puma - Kämpfer mit Herz and got Donnie Yen to direct the action sequences. We have Ross Kemp in his pants.
It's disheartening to say the least.
- August 18, 2006: The rubbishness of ITV proved for all the world to see
A while ago, we obliquely touched on the poor quality of ITV programming of late. Now come a few hard empirical facts.
- June 29, 2006: Bravo picks up The Unit and Blade
Good news for Dennis Haysbert fans in the UK. The Unit (about which I have written reasonably extensively) has been picked up by Bravo as a replacement for the now-dead Alias. No word on when it will air, but...
- January 28, 2008: Review: Ross Kemp in Afghanistan 1x1
A review of Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, and a reconsideration of Ultimate Force
- September 29, 2008: Review: The Unit 4x1
A review of the first episode of the fourth season of CBS's The Unit
- January 20, 2017: Review: Six 1x1 (US: History)
A review of the first episode of History's Six