HBO has greenlit “Generation Kill,” a seven-hour scripted miniseries based on the true story of Marines fighting in the Iraq war.
Gritty mini will look at the early movements of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and depict the complex challenges faced by the U.S.-led mission even in the war’s early stages.
David Simon and Ed Burns, both of “The Wire,” have been attached to co-write and exec produce, while George Faber and Charles Pattinson (“Elizabeth I,” “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers”) are aboard to exec produce for HBO Films via their Company Pictures shingle.
Insiders said “Kill” will aim for the immediacy and the spectacle, if not the production budget, of HBO’s hit WWII project “Band of Brothers.”
Yeah, I picked up the book used at a thrift store. When you buy books from places like that you get zero marketing buzz. Unless you’re heard of it already, you have no idea what a book is about. This was such a purchase, I just liked the jacket. I couldn’t put it down, it was fantastic. I think it will make a great miniseries, I just can’t believe they are actually going to do it.
I do hope they stay away from any political stuff (there wasn’t a whole lot in the book, aside from the opinions of the soldiers) and just stick to the stories of the men.
Just to start the controversy ahead of time, here’s an actual recording of one of the moments in the book (the 1st recon Bn commander’s speech) IRL…judging from the snapshot in the trailer, should be interesting to compare the full moments to each other. Also, one of the “characters” in the book, Capt. Nathaniel Fick, has his own book One Bullet Away, for a point of comparison. It’s probably up there with Eugene Sledge’s With The Old Breed and Lewis Puller Jr’s Fortunate Son as far as being really accessible and genuine Marine war memoirs.
Nate Fick is an acquaintance of mine and I was good friends with his younger sister in Law school. He is a very cool guy, and it’s a great book, and the stories I have heard from the family are really sobering.
Good first episode. I admit I was a bit taken aback in the beginning by how profane the talk was (granted I think part of this is because my Dad was in the room behind me listening). But obviously that’s pretty authentic, it just took a bit adjusting to.
That’s interesting. I especially got a kick out of him describing grad school admissions officers and veterans (although admittedly his was a special case with the Rolling Stone quotes and all)…it’s funny cause it’s true.
Also, I have a feeling this is one of those that I will have to wait to have a backlog of at least a few episodes to start watching. How long is it expected to be?
Edit: indeed, here is the full episode list. 1 hour per episode.
* Episode 1: Get Some - July 13, 2008
* Episode 2: The Cradle of Civilization - July 20, 2008
* Episode 3: Screwby - July 27, 2008
* Episode 4: Combat Jack - August 3, 2008
* Episode 5: A Burning Dog - August 10, 2008
* Episode 6: Stay Frosty - August 17, 2008
* Episode 7: Pending - August 24, 2008
I served in the first Iraqi conflict in the USMC infantry. My general reaction (based on my memories) was (1) pornography use was blown way out of proportion, (2) the depiction of the Sgt. Major is also overblown as most of these that I knew were not shrill blowhards - although they were the enforcers of uniforms, grooming, etc. standards, (3) accurate depiction of a USMC LT, (4) I never met a company commander like the one depicted in the show, (5) some of the Marines were way too clean to be depicting front line combat troops, and (6) otherwise is pretty accurate as far as living within a deployed USMC infantry unit, even if it’s a recon battalion.
Not quite as good yet as Band of Brothers, but the show has potential to get there.
I always got a “walking on eggshells around the potential psycho” vibe from the people handling my admissions. Not a whole lot more to the story or anything as flagrantly stupid as what Fick encountered, just a lot of little things that added up in retrospect when I compared my admissions process to that of my peers.
(1) was dead on in my experience in the latter part of the more recent Iraq war. At one point, one of my peers got an actual crate of porn sent to him by Penthouse in response to his letter. Club International soon followed suit, and even included some Cheez Its. There’s nothing like having a bottomless supply of back issues of porn in downtown Fallujah. And by “nothing like” I mean I would have a tough time thinking of something our Iraqi associates valued more.
(2) was perfect in every way. We’d come back to the battalion headquarters for our one day off after 53 days straight of operating in Ramadi to encounter some piece of shit that would flip out on my Marines for not having shaved/ recent hair cuts, for not wearing their uniform in regs, and (my favorite) for not having clean uniforms on within moments of arriving at the base.
These were not one time events. We had standing warnings coming back from whatever platoon was in its off time of whatever new bullshit the battalion saj maj had come up with this time, whether it was outlawing the heavy fleeces THE MARINE CORPS HAD ISSUED US FOR THE WINTER on the outside of our cammie blouses or flipping out on yet another Marine for wearing a beanie or no cover outdoors. Other senior enlisted were no less deranged at times, and not a few officers.
Our saving grace was that for most of our deployment the government center was too scary for them, or (I’d like to think) our leadership that actually worked for a living was concerned that we couldn’t take the hit on morale that kind of man could bring with him. I still have burned into my memory when after a pre dawn firefight the saj maj was handed over to me to show him the posts. After a tour of the rooftop posts, he did not ask me a single question about how our security was set up, about the bizarre jury rigged ballistic glass setups we had around the guns, or about anything related to troop welfare. He lectured me on how there was too much trash on the posts (we hadn’t done our morning garbage collection yet) and how the brass was not yet policed.
Why? My theory is because like his predecessor (who was even worse), he was a fucking POG in the worst possible way. And I think it’s tragic that the senior enlisted man in an infantry battalion can have fewer ribbons than one of my team leaders when we go to war.
I dunno, but that’s the vibe I got from a lot of people. The best review I ever heard for a saj maj was “he stayed out of our shit” and that was the exception. Throughout all of my four years they were, at best, negotiable obstacles to my everyday routine.
I think I understand where some of that bullshit fits into the Marine world, on some level. But I think I never got enough rank to rate the lobotomy that would make me think that was ok.
That said, I appreciate that your experience was different, and I’m not arguing against it. I’m just saying mine supports the show’s view as very plausible. My wife couldn’t watch the first episode past a certain point, because seeing that stuff in action after living some of it in garrison makes her too angry. Can’t say I blame her, but I have to laugh, I guess.
(3) Agreed, and so far makes a nice counterbalance to Fick’s book.
(4) Not quite like that, but I did see some real all-stars in action. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons that we all had a great deal of respect for our battalion commander is because he was very, very aware of the limitations of some of our co. commanders, and made no bones about giving the main effort to the people he trusted. Which in our Bn was 2 out of the 4. At least one of those other two was borderline criminally negligent at times.
Again, different experiences at different times. But hearing the accounts of 1st Recon/B Co’s CO from both Fick and Wright’s versions, I’d say I buy it. Even the duct taped vehicle thing.
(5) I didn’t particularly notice, but I think I could go along with that.
(6) I’ll just say “yes”.
I thought Band of Brothers was terrible, at least as a book. Essentially, it’s historical fiction written from the memories of the surviving old men, marketed as a True Story. The compelling aspects of the characters struck me as more the products of Stephen Ambrose’s grasp of basic creative writing (he’s willing to plagiarize, this is small fry) than anything that I could take seriously. I contrast that with WWII historical vignettes like the ones presented in Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning, where the final product came from the accounts written up/confessed immediately after the war, and the main difference is not just the uniforms or their missions.
Anyway, I found Generation Kill good in a way that was both personal and beyond that, in a sense reaching back to the best impressionistic war writing of Eugene Sledge and Michael Herr. Not quite as good, but close enough. I’m impressed by the risks Simon is taking in not going with dashingly rough-edged archetypes instead of Marines, asshole behavior and all. I have faith that he’ll keep it up.