Ultimate Force: Oh God. We’re rubbish

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

Dennis Haysbert in The Unit

As I’m sure you’ll agree, a hard, manly man. Or at least convincing as a hard, manly man.

This is Ross Kemp

Ross Kemp in his pants

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:

Rio de Janeiro

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’:

Ultimate Force's laughable attempt to do abroad

It’s a caravan site in the New Forest! They couldn’t even be bothered to use a real country! They’ve made one up. Dear God, we’re rubbish.

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.




  • “I haven’t really watched ITV in a long time.”
    It sucks so much right now, doesn’t it?!
    And I especially can’t take Ross Kemp seriously at the moment with Grant being all touch-feely on ‘Enders… urgghhh.

  • Eastenders is rubbish now. I tuned in when Dirty Den came back. Now that was bad. Everything that made Den good had been forgotten. Leslie Grantham used to explain that when he was originally on the show, he was given rubbishy middle class dialogue:
    Ang: How come men can have affairs but women can’t? It’s not fair.
    Den: That’s the way the cookie crumbles…
    Grantham famously replaced that with “Tough”. When he came back, he forgot to edit his dialogue, the character wasn’t so interesting, so they got rid of him.
    The touchy-feeliness appears to have been inherited from US soaps, which believe that women will only be interested in emotionally incontinent men who discuss their feelings all day. Not sure that works here.
    Besides, who can take Ross Kemp seriously as a hard man after Extras. “They’re good people on Family Affairs”

  • Yep, Extras really topped out any possible serious response to RK.
    Oh but really, this post spoils us. Truly BWAH!!!! (that’s me laughing hysterically at your post btw)

  • Why thank you. I feel my blog entries are indeed the Ferrero Rochers of media criticism: not as expensive as proper chocolates, but perfectly acceptable alternatives that come tastefully wrapped.
    And remember everyone: to view bigger versions of the pictures, including Ross Kemp in his PE kit, just click on them…

  • Ewh! No thanks! (Enlarged RK… urgh…
    now David Tennant… that’s another matter!)

  • I don’t have an extensive library of photos depicting David Tennant in his PE kit. I’ll have a look, but I don’t have high hopes. Maybe if you email The Guardian, they’ll organise a photo shoot.

  • David Tennant in his PE kit? I think I’m having a Rosby-scenario style faint!
    And personally I think the Guardian owes us big style after the fashion-shoot debacle! (Marie, for one, was not impressed… )

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  • seaman

    ——————————
    hey have Der Puma – K?ɬ�mpfer mit Herz and got Donnie Yen to direct the action sequences. We have Ross Kemp in his pants.
    ——————————
    Why cant I have ross kemp in his pants? sob sob.

  • Everyone has to have a dream, I guess!

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  • Anonymous

    First of all, please for the love of God cut it with the ‘we are crap’ whining, I’ve had it up to here.
    Second, I agree Ultimate Force series 4 was poor to say the least (especially the fourth episode of that series), but it started out OK. A bit rough and ready, but relatively believable, which is something to be proud of considering the low ITV budget.
    Though I would say, in this country we need a bit more experience in action drama. But before you start with this ‘we are rubbish’ whining, ask yourself, why have the US copied so many of our TV shows? (The Office, Life on Mars, the Thick of it, etc)

  • MediumRob

    Oh no! [email protected] has had it up to here! What will we do?
    Not wishing to spend too much time answering this sensibly because, despite some people obviously failing to realise it wasn’t 100% intended as such, it wasn’t:
    1) I’m aware the first couple of seasons of UF weren’t too bad and have written elsewhere in the blog about this fact
    2) It’s worth noting that I was talking about action shows, of which we have very few and of which the US has remade precisely none. The few shows such as Life on Mars they have remade that have action aspects they’ve remade the action scenes better
    3) Of the current US pilots for the Fall season, including the 20 NBC currently have, not one is based on a UK format so that shows you that our desirability ain’t that great. And off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single current scripted US show except The Office based on a UK format
    4) The Thick of It remake was only a pilot, hasn’t been picked up (although they’re trying to retool it) so there wasn’t much point in mentioning it, was there?
    5) I quite liked The Fixer. That was better. It was Ultimate Force series 3 and 4 that let the UK down
    6) What are you doing bothering with a blog entry that’s _four years old_? Time moves on, so do opinions, so why don’t you take a chill pill and move on too? You don’t like what someone says? Ignore it and walk on like Caine in Kung Fu – see? Another proper action series done properly by Americans

  • William

    I recently got into the show Ultimate Force when i get what i believe is season 3 or 4 and in the first five minutes they kill off most of the characters. Why? I know they have more episodes but i dont have the heart to watch them knowing that they have abandoned the Drama i loved in the show. I loved the mixture of action and drama in the show but kiling those characters killed the show in my opion.But in recent web browsing I saw that there might be a possible remake of the series from that point.Is it true? Please respond

  • MediumRob

    “I recently got into the show Ultimate Force when i get what i believe is season 3 or 4 and in the first five minutes they kill off most of the characters. Why? I know they have more episodes but i dont have the heart to watch them knowing that they have abandoned the Drama i loved in the show. I loved the mixture of action and drama in the show but kiling those characters killed the show in my opion.”
    Those were definitely the seasons where most people who liked Ultimate Force gave up on it on for most of the reasons you mentioned.
    “But in recent web browsing I saw that there might be a possible remake of the series from that point.Is it true? Please respond”
    Not that I’m aware of. It seems unlikely.

  • William

    Thanks anyway I really did enjoy the show it had that good mix of things i d like to see in more television show i hope the rumor turn out true anyway

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