Review: The Unit 2.1

The Unit - Season 2

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm (ET/PT), CBS

In the UK: Season one starts on Bravo, 3rd October. No word on season two yet.

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 0

Major new characters: 0

Format change percentage: 0%

New hair styles: 2

After the yin of Men in Trees, it seems only appropriate to deal with the yang that is The Unit (even though that means skipping the return of CSI: Miami for now. Never fear, I’ll deal with Horatio Caine’s trip to Rio tomorrow).

Now I was really kind of partial to season one of The Unit, an everyday tale of secret super-soldiers roaming the world, killing people inventively and covertly so we can rest safely at night. With an extra intravenous drip of testosterone provided by exec producer David Mamet, The Unit managed to provide a (relatively) realistic look at all that special forces daring-do without descending into the lunacy that was Chuck Norris’s tour de force, Delta Force, in its attempt to deliver us that adrenaline fix we all crave.

Unfortunately, season two of The Unit is off to an inauspicious start, despite Mamet dishing out more stiff, professional dialogue in his allotted hour than you’d find in a weekend of Dragnet re-runs.

To put it bluntly, the episode was a mess. In an effort to have so many exciting things happening, both to ‘The Unit’ and their wives, Mamet falls into that Delta Force trap quicker than a rear-mounted motorcycle rocket. Dragged down by codewords, counter-codewords, conversations in the clear, encrypted conversations, undercover agents that might be plants and a really odd use for a hot air balloon, the plot went all over the place as the kind of super-efficient terrorists normally only found in 24 decide they’d like to go on holiday, while the army wives have to deal with an abused kid on base.

There are absolutely no format changes, though, fans of last season might be glad to hear. Even the big change imminent at the end of last season – (censored for UK viewers. Eyes Only Clearance) – gets reversed by the end of the episode, something that seems radically unlikely for the character concerned and shows you how bad Mamet is when dealing with female characters compared to his usually top-notch work for men.

Since Mamet is an infrequent scriptwriter, here’s hoping that his more reliable sister, Lynn, can pick up the pieces and reform The Unit, as happened last season.