The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 1

Third-episode verdict: Generation Kill

We have a little dilemma for The Carusometer here. Generation Kill, the Iraq war mini-series from the creators of The Wire, started well, scoring probably a 1 or a 2 on the Caruso scale. Since then, each episode has been better. The Carusometer doesn’t believe in half marks, so it’s finding it tricky to know how to score the series. I’m sure it’ll work something out by the time I’ve finished writing.

Three episodes in, it’s becoming clear that this really is The Wire of the Iraq war – not necessarily in terms of “showing it how it is”, but in terms of message. Those who have been parsing the text, so to speak, will know that The Wire‘s message is that a lot of people in organisations are rubbish; there are a few good ones but there attempts to change the status quo or affect their superiors’ decisions will be quashed by politics; and that the higher-ups will give orders that are as much – or more – about their attempts to climb up the hierarchy or maintain their position than what’s actually right on the ground. In essence, nuance and practicality will be crushed by politicking and ideology.

And this is what we have with Generation Kill. The US Marines depicted are very well trained and good at what they do. But their natural organisational inclination to kill anything that moves isn’t necessarily a good thing when you’re trying to win hearts and minds. The love of medals and the need to win generals’ approval means bad decisions are made and often praised. The man on the ground isn’t given the resources he needs to conduct the war properly. And those few that use their brains to inform their decisions with the wider picture are often penalised.

As I mentioned in my review of the first episode, this isn’t a wholly new message. However, its slow building up through demonstration is and makes it more effective.

We have other Wire-like characteristics as well, such as the way one character can seem to be ‘good’ in one episode, only to be revealed as a hindrance in another is more nuanced than other war shows have depicted. And we also have the banal bloke-to-bloke dialogue that fills much of the episode, as war is shown to be mostly waiting and discussing South Park.

While it doesn’t wow in the same way as The Wire, since its message isn’t as new or devastating as that show’s, it’s certainly worth watching as a piece of intelligent drama.

Sitting Tennant

Today’s Sitting Tennant (from Toby): Attack of the Gratske

Attack of the Gratske

Today’s Sitting Tennant, is a little bit wibbly wobbly, but given it’s from an interactive web game, that’s not Toby’s fault. Yes, it’s David Tennant sitting down on an actual chair in Attack of the Gratske. No fudging the definitions here.

The current form card puts Rosby in the lead with five entries, Persephone at four. Poly with three and a half, Toby on three entries and Scott on two entries.

After the massive splurge of creativity that the last Sitting Tennant produced, the witty and amusing captions league table is looking very different. Toby is now top with six captions to his name, Marie is now second-equal with Persephone with five captions each, Rullsenberg and Electric Dragon both have three captions to their names and Poly and Stu_N are on one each.

Will this one inspire as much as the previous one did? Let’s wait and see.

Got a picture of David Tennant sitting, lying down or in some indeterminate state in between? Then leave a link to it below and if it’s judged suitable, it will appear in the “Sitting Tennant” gallery in due course.

Tuesday’s W news

Doctor Who

  • BBC America buys the third series of Torchwood. Plus a few hints of what will happen


British TV


The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 2

Third-episode verdict: Flashpoint

So we’re three episodes into Flashpoint, the Canadian-US co-production that doesn’t like to mention the word Canadian. It’s a sort of SWAT procedural for hostage situations, but without the omnipresent firepower and machismo you might expect of a US show.

Anyway, we’re three episodes in and not much has changed and a formula is emerging. We open with the hostage situation. We backtrack a bit to see how it all started. Then we see how the situation is resolved.

And that’s pretty much it. Everything’s a bit angsty, as the terrible toll of having to shoot people every other week gets to the tough but sensitive cops. We have a bit of banter, a bit of character background every week. And we definitely don’t ever mention that we’re Canadian and work in Toronto. Oh no. That would never do.

Although it’s reasonably well made with decent scripts, there’s nothing too special going on. At the moment, it’s interesting if you’re into SWAT tactics and procedures with the minimum amount of hyperbole and exaggeration necessary in a TV show. But even that’s likely to wane after a while if nothing changes, dramatically. Fingers crossed for future interest.

September at the BFI

Time for our regular round-up of tele events at the BFI. Despite the presence of a “Time Machine” season in September, there’s not really anything timey-wimey. However, we do have the following:

13th/14th: Classic children’s TV, including Noggin the Nog, The Clangers, Bagpuss and Mr Benn

25th: Nigel Kneale and Rudolph Cartier’s BBC adaptation of 1984