Did you get a chance watch last night's premiere of "Generation Kill" on HBO? If you did, you may feel a little bit hazy about who is who, and what all the terminology means, and where the guys are going and why. Don't worry -- that's the way this miniseries works.
Because it's from the realism-loving creators of "The Wire," the story and its characters aren't spelled out neatly for you, as they are in most TV narratives. You are meant to feel as uncomfortable as, say, a new Marine, or maybe as overwhelmed as the Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright, played by Lee Tergesen. But gradually, you will figure everything out that you need to figure out, and that process of figuring it all out will make the impact of "Generation Kill" more powerful. The miniseries, like "The Wire," asks you not just to watch, but to experience.
There are many strong performers in "Generation Kill," some of whom I singled out in my review of the miniseries. But I didn't have a chance to mention the first actor who leaves an indelible impression -- that would be Neal Jones, who plays Sgt. Maj. John Sixta.
Sixta is the runty, cartoony guy who is obsessed with the Marines' grooming. "Y'all startin' to look like Elvises," he snapped last night, and he will continue to obsess about the way the boys maintain their clothes and hair in the coming weeks. In a lighter war story, Sixta would be comic relief. Here, he's just an irritating guy with a strange fixation actively trying to undermine everyone's morale. By the way, Neal Jones is the same actor who played Peter Reilly, Chief Jerry Reilly's gay son, on "Rescue Me." He was as calm and emotionally anchored on that show as he is untethered on "Generation Kill."
So are you feeling a bit out to see after last night's premiere? Will you watch the second episode?