Saturday, January 30, 2010

OMG Make the Mamet Stop!

So, without decent internet access, and pretty much television only during meal times, one of the things most people end up doing in Iraq is watching TV episodes on DVDs, so they're a few years out of date.

Currently, I am watching The Unit, which I hate to admit is a pretty good show. I hate to admit it because it's a bit of glorification which I don't personally like. But production values are high, the choreography is well done, and the soundtrack is remarkably good. David Mamet produces the show, with his sister, apparently.

Now - the critique:

1) The gung-ho military can do everything, and should do everything attitude. Now - yes, these people are Delta Force, consummate professionals. But in the pilot episode they perform a mission on US soil, without suspension of posse comitatus. Sure - the team was the best equipped and trained to perform the operation, and the FBI guy on the ground as kind of a jerk. However, two episodes later, the FBI is looking into the illegal action and the writing gets pretty bad - stuffed shirt bureaucrat questioning the honorable and heroic actions of our team (!) But the show doesn't really dwell on the point that the team did in fact violate federal law, and one of the most important ones at that. Maybe we could have had a line about the dangerous precedent of the military making its own decisions about right and wrong rather than leaving it up to the civilian government?

2) Damn spooks are just petty bureaucrats out to fulfill their own agenda, and use our heroes for their own purposes. In the SERE episode, the team goes through SERE school (surprise) with a new twist - a female interrogator (presumably CIA) who is running some kind of psycho-biological experiment on them, bringing up elements of their past, etc. Rather than just three days of resistance, this new program goes as long as she wants, etc. But she makes a damn good point - the paradigm for hostage taking has changed: it's no longer about troop movements and holding out until mission orders change, it's about propaganda and money. So perhaps SERE school does need to change to reflect that paradigm (caveat: never been to SERE, I have no idea what their operational parameters are)

3) As I mentioned, David Mamet produces, but most of the scripts are written by other people. The problem is that on a few episodes he does write and direct, and those episodes are pure Mamet all the way: "I want to talk, I would like to talk to you about our relationship. Yes, about our relationship I would like to talk to you. No - no, this is about, it is about us" Etc. And after watching 11 episodes of normal dialogue, it is PAINFUL to experience. Now, I love David Mamet. But his meter takes some getting used to, because it is absolutely not the way normal human beings talk, and in the context of a show about normal Americans (superheroes or not), it is completely out of place.

4) Was it part of the pre-nup that Rebecca Pidgeon is legally required to be in every production Mamet does?


Anonymous said...

9 Years ago, the now defunct Modern Humorist nailed the Mammet cadence:

Iraqi Bootleg said...

I believe I remember reading that - the 2001 spoof? Unfortunately, because there are too many incidences of the word fuck, my ISP thinks it's pornography.

Anonymous said...

And now we have a proof: the number of instances of "fuck" is a stronger predictor of something written by David
Mamet than it is a predictor of pornography.

Of course stiff stocatto dialog could be either: "fuck me" "no, fuck me"...and so on.

But the real question is: which harms our troops and contractors more, Mamet riffs or chicks with dicks?

To paraphrase Jason Robards in crimson tide, this question will occupy America's armed forces for years to come.