Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Generation Kill" - great modern 'background' TV show!

Hey all!

So... everyone knows that HBO shows are just the best on TV.  "Band of Brothers," "The Wire," "Game of Thrones," "Rome," "Deadwood," "The Sopranos"... it just doesn't get much better than HBO

So I thought I would pass on a little-known HBO show for those people interested in some inspiration for modern wargaming!

The show is called "Generation Kill."  It has a FANTASTIC pedigree... it was done by David Simon and Ed Burns, the guys who did "The Wire" (which is the second best piece of media ever created, behind BoB) and based on a book by a Marine who was in Iraq during the Second Gulf War.  It follows a Marine Recon unit through the invasion, combat with insurgencies, and of course some winning of hearts and minds and rear echelon sort of stuff, as well as giving us a good glimpse into the decision making process that goes on behind the scenes.

The show has a lot of strengths.  Most importantly for this blog post, the production value is first-rate... humvees and LAVs and Abrams and A-10s abound, and the show is FULL of third-worldy cities and farms.  Visually it is like watching a documentary filmed in Iraq, which is pretty impressive.  The whole show was filmed in parts of Africa, so the look is just spot on... and is some GREAT inspiration for scenery making!  There are some fantastic rural AND urban spots that are just DYING to be made in 15 or 25mm.

I get the feeling the show is particularly authentic when it comes to representing both the horror of combat and the actual young men in our armed forces.  There is a LOT of civilian and accidental death in the show, as much as many of the Marines try to avoid it, and it is not pretty.  And frankly there are a number of young men in the show who I wouldn't trust to mow my lawn, much less get in a firefight alongside me.  As much as we idolize our military, I do get the feeling that there are these types scattered among the precise professionals who you find in the ranks of our military, as some slip through who might not meet very high standards.  Unfortunately, this show makes them very visible.  Thankfully, there are plenty of competent soldiers to keep the damage the idiots cause to a minimum.

One place where I do get a little doubtful with the show (although being that it is based on a book maybe it is accurate?) is the general ineptitude of the officers.  Now, I know any grunt will always complain about the officers above them, but one or two of them are portrayed as SO inept that I cannot believe they would be allowed to lead men.  Maybe in the rigid hierarchy of the military these guys get into positions that it is hard to get them out of, and certainly the stories are filled with men like this (for example, Lt. Dike in Band of Brothers) but I did find it a touch annoying that almost every officer seems like an idiot.

Overall though, "Generation Kill" is a great show for those modern wargamers out there who want a little visual inspiration, or some background for when you are gaming.  It only lasted one short season (seven or eight episodes I believe) but it is available on HBO-GO.  So go give it a look!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

One thing that was consistently mentioned by the writer of the book, the directors, and other people involved was that the incompetence of certain officers was heavily toned down for the series, and even in the book. It helps to remember that this really wasn't their job, and if the unit had been used "properly" the officers would have been sitting back at base most of the time.

They weren't all bad, and I recommend... wossname. Fick? His book. It's worth reading alongside Generation Kill, although it covers a lot more.