I think it is good that producers and TV networks are trying to cover the Iraq war with fictional shows like this.
At the end of the day, this show really just looked like people playing with guns on a movie set in the desert.
Over There is an interesting show especially considering it's TV run. Creators Steven Bochco and Chris Gerolmo were going up against staggering odds when they made this series, simply because they were presenting a fictional account of a war that is top news on CNN, FOX and every other outlet. This show tries to take it's viewers to the front lines of the war in Iraq. We are seeing soldiers during their first tour of duty and the effects this not only has on them but their loved ones.
While I feel that this show did a very good job of establishing the characters, fleshing out and showing us little pieces about all of them through the 13 episodes here, Over There lacked something to make me become fully engaged by it. It just seemed too staged. Too much like everybody had assembled to make a war show as opposed to bringing us into the war. I never got the feeling that trailers, chow trucks and camera equipment wasn't far away.
There are commentary tracks on the "Pilot" episode with with Co-creator, Writer, Director Chris Gerolmo and Co-Producer Joan Gerolmo. "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding" has a commentary by Ssgt. Sean Bunch (Military Advisor) and Sam Sako (Iraqi Advisor). Lastly, on the episode "Spoils of War" we hear from actors Luke MacFarlane, Erik Palladino, Keith Robinson, Kirk "Sticky" Jones, Omid Abtahi, Lizette Carrion and Nicki Aycox. I dipped into all of these commentary tracks at various points, simply because I like how they divided these up. Everyone brings an interesting perspective to their particular episode and it seems like a lot of thought went into who said what and where.
"Weapons Debriefing" Featurette
Guns, guns and more guns. This "debriefing" takes us through the various types of weapons that the soldiers in Iraq are currently using. We see how certain guns and rifles are handled and it's also made very clear to us what effect these weapons can have on people. After awhile, I felt that things got a tad repetitive but other than that, I feel I did learn something when I watched this.
"Tour of Duty: Filming Over There" Documentary
A very well done look at the final episode of this show. In fact, of all the supplemental features on this four disc set, this one is clearly the best. While I don't think it says that much about this episode in particular, I do feel that it speaks heavily to the spirit behind this show. All in all, a very well put together piece about what it takes to make something that is relevant.
Widescreen - Anamorphic 1.78:1. This show looked a little small for my tastes. It might just be my conditioning with war movies on the big screen, but this show didn't have the "war" feeling that I had hoped it would. It looked good, the picture was sharp and clear and everything about it felt right in tone, but I was just never able to get passed the fact that these were actors, holding guns in a desert location playing war.
5.1 Dolby Surround - English and Spanish. Close Captioned. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. For some reason, I had to turn up my TV louder than normal. I was surprised by this because Over There is a newer show and everything about the specs seemed "state of the art." It wasn't that the audio was bad or muddy, I was just surprised I had to turn my set up to hear everything.
Aping Black Hawk Down with it's Josh Hartnett-like front cover photo of a soldier, I think Over There really sets the tone with this kind of picture. The idea of youth being involved with war is nothing new, but it still works to good effect here. The back of this DVD features a shot of soldiers and military units against the sunlight (all of which make war look bigger than this show does), a description of what Over There is about, a "Special Features" listing and some technical specs. All four discs are housed in two plastic cases with the same front cover as the cardboard unit that houses them. The back of the covers feature episode listings and descriptions of all the episodes.
I am sort of wondering if this show's choice to not take a side, to not "play politics" is what ultimately led to it's demise. In fact, I think that that is what is hurting a lot of cinema and a lot of TV shows in general. In trying to show every side of something, oftentimes it seems we end up having nothing. Whereas when something takes a stand, when a war movie like Platoon or Full Metal Jacket clearly wears it's colors on it's sleeve, it is then that I think people fully embrace it.
It is a movie or TV shows ability to sometimes risk polarizing it's audience, that ultimately makes it something we remember. I think Over There will be remembered but as more of a footnote in the war discussion than anything else.
Over There was released .