Review: The Unit 4×1

Making the hard choices

The Unit

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Bravo and Virgin One at some point, probably the New Year

When you get to the fourth year of a long-running show, you have a choice. Do you continue with the same old formula (cf House), or be a bit brave and mix things up (cf Lost)? The Unit might be forgiven for going for the easy option, given it was on the cusp of being cancelled at the end of last year.

But this is a manly show of the first order, in which brave special forces soldiers (who definitely aren’t Delta, honest guv’nor) risk their lives tackling threats foreign and domestic while their wives go through equal hells at home. Easy option?

The Unit spits in the face of the easy option

So there’s quite a few changes this year, hopefully none of which will be spoilt for you by me. The only one I will reveal is that The Unit seems to have taken a leaf out of Ultimate Force‘s play book (for some unknown reason, if you compare the two shows) and decided to hire a woman as the final member of the normally all-male Unit. She’s inserted into the narrative as seamlessly as a Sherman tank so it’s not a big surprise when her promotion comes through, I promise, and thankfully she’s not shown in fully-on special forces mode.

Otherwise, it’s not business as usual, as pretty much the whole set-up for The Unit gets a good beat-down. The dead wood gets pruned, everything’s a bit leaner and meaner: it looks a lot more interesting. The scenario-changer is all very patriotic and red-blooded American, coupled with a conservative’s worst nightmare/”I told you so”, but it works in the context of The Unit.

Generally then, I’m much more confident about this season than I am about last season, which started heading in the wrong direction and then became a bit same old, same old. Hopefully, it’ll stick to the military side of things, which as this episode proves, it does very well, rather than venturing too much in the realm of spies, which is when it starts to flounder.

Newbies might be advised to read up a bit before wading in, but there’s nothing much here that couldn’t be picked up in next to know time, beyond establishing who’s married to whom. Old guard should be delighted the show’s getting back to basics.

For vids, thanks to CBS’s decision not to allow its YouTube clips to be viewable in the UK, all I can do you for is a trailer for next week’s episode. Sorry!


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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