Fox // 2008 // 968 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // October 19th, 2009
"These men die for each other, not for you or your boss. These men are warriors. You think you need to remind them about their codes of silence? They answer to a higher code, friend." -- Brigadier General Thomas "Dog Patch" Ryan
Another casualty of the business side of TV, The Unit was cancelled after it had hit its stride and likely had many more tales to tell. While Season Four doesn't tie things up completely, I'm happy to say this was easily the show's finest season, exhibiting some of the best acting and writing of the entire run.
Under the command of Sergeant Major Jonas "Snake Doctor" Blane (Dennis Haysbert, 24) Alpha team members Master Sergeant Mack "Dirt Diver" Gerhardt (Max Martini, Saving Private Ryan), Sergeant First Class Charles "Betty Blue" Grey (Michael Irby, Law Abiding Citizen) and Sergeant First Class Bob "Cool Breeze" Brown (Scott Foley, Felicity) travel the world on covert missions, risking their lives for national security, while their families closely guard their secrets and keep the home fires burning. Operating under the cover of the 303rd Logistical Studies Group, the members of "The Unit" carry out orders from the highest levels of government, answering only to the President.
All 22 episodes of The Unit: Season Four are spread across five discs:
* "Sudden Flight"
* "Sex Trade"
* "The Conduit"
* "Dancing Lessons"
* "Into Hell, Part 1"
* "Into Hell, Part 2"
* "Shadow Riders"
* "Misled and Misguided"
* "Bad Beat"
* "The Spear of Destiny"
* "The Last Nazi"
* "Hill 60"
* "Flesh & Blood"
* "Best Laid Plans"
* "Chaos Theory"
* "Unknown Soldier"
I feel a bit like the Grim Reaper. Not too long ago, I wrote the Blu-ray review for the final season of My Name Is Earl, closing the book on one of my favorite TV series. Now I have mixed blessings serving the same role for The Unit. While the series caught my interest from the very beginning, I didn't have time to catch up with it until this past year. In the space of just a few months, I have -- as a good friend of mine calls it -- "chain-smoked" the entire series, watching Alpha team form, gel, and perform as a cohesive and integral part of "The Unit."
The brainchild of Award-winning American author, playwright, and screenwriter David Mamet, The Unit spends the bulk of its time in two arenas: the home front and the front line. There are many fans who have criticized the show's creators for overdramatizing the spouse's stories back at Fort Griffith while their husbands were deployed on top secret missions around the globe. As much as we owe soldiers our respect for putting their lives at risk keeping the world a safer place, we also owe a great debt to the spouses and children who release their loved ones into the world never knowing when their lives might be lost in the service of their country. Sure, this is a series largely based on the skill of the production team and its actors, but let's not forget at the heart of this drama is a very real story of military men and their families.
The loss of Unit operator Sergeant First Class Hector Barnes was a pretty sore wound at the end of Season Three, and the phantom pains are still present in Season Four. Looking back, not only were fans stunned by the sudden and unexpected loss of their beloved "Hammerhead," but as quick as the next episode, all images of Barnes were scrubbed from the opening titles, even though Hector's memorial service and Jonas' rogue revenge spree were still underway. New and solid additions to the Season Four team roster included Warrant Officer One Bridget "Red Cap" Sullivan (Nicole Steinwedell, He's Just Not That Into You) and Staff Sergeant Sam "Whiplash" McBride (Wes Chatham, W.).
The final season hit the ground running with the families under siege in the season opening two-parter "Sacrifice" and "Sudden Flight," which give the series' female leads an opportunity to shine. While there were other stand-out episodes, "Into Hell, Parts 1 & 2" really gave the cast, writers, and crew a chance to show the immense heart and soul of the show, while rewarding fans with some much-needed closure and retribution. Season Four reached a whole new level of excellence, making the cancellation announcement all the more bitter a pill.
Fortunately for fans, The Unit: Season Four is anything but covert as it makes its way onto Blu-ray. How do you like your automatic weapons fire, helicopter rotors, encoded transmissions, and military fly-bys? If you answered "crystal clear and fully immersive," then this is the mix for you. The Unit often presents the organized chaos of battle as the characters get their hands dirty in the interest of national security. The DTS-HD Master Audio mix skillfully blends ambient sounds, dialogue, music, and effects into an auditory feast that complements the source material. The visual presentation answers back loud and proud, with sharp definition, true colors, and minimal distortion outside of the occasionally vertigo-inducing camera work. The series had a very distinct look and feel, shooting California locations as stand-ins for worldwide destinations. The handheld style created an immediacy and tension that suited the subject matter to a tee.
While a little light on the bonus features, fans will find some interesting tidbits here. "Into Hell: A Brotherhood Divided" tackles the two-part arc that brings some closure to Mac and Alpha teams plans to bring Colonel Ryan to justice. Bringing closure to a subplot that began with the series premiere, this was no doubt a tough shoot that needed to live up to fans' expectations and you'll see a lot of that here. "Shadow Riders: A Western Come Undone" takes viewers behind the scenes of shooting in the California desert as a stand-in for Afghanistan, as our heroes are chased by the Taliban. This featurette explores some of the challenges of shooting a western The Unit-style. Finally, "Snake Doctor: A Leader Among Us" looks behind the lens, as actor Dennis Haysbert directs an episode. Aside from these four short featurettes, there are a few extra minutes of deleted scenes from "Shadow Riders" included on Disc Two.
I feel like a broken record, but studios really need to treat fans better when it comes to TV box sets. Given the immense talent and skill of the cast and crew, this set should have at least included episode commentaries. It's also unfortunate that, given the series cancellation, there wasn't an opportunity for some closing comments from the people who gave us four solid seasons.
Another fantastic series has fallen by the wayside, as The Unit: Season Four closes the book prematurely on one of the better TV dramas of the past few years. It's encouraging to know the series has already been syndicated, so more people can have the opportunity to join The Unit.
Rangers lead the way! Company diiiiiiiiiiiiiissmissed!
Review content copyright © 2009 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 968 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site