24 July 2003 | Big S-2
The bald-headed bloke from 'Eastenders' kicks ass
Dealing with the lives and missions of a small group of soldiers in Britain's most elite Army unit, the SAS, this is definitely one of the best British action / drama series for years. Although there's a definite nod towards `political correctness' in that this fictional SAS unit has a multi-ethnic make-up, plus a female member (in the real world, no women serve in the SAS), the series on the whole succeeds in striking the perfect balance between strong storylines, gritty realism, exciting action scenes, personal drama and the occasional touch of humor. The quality of the stories is also consistently good, and so far (after two series of six episodes each) I'd say that there hasn't been one single `weak' episode. Only perhaps the odd episode that's been `less good' than the others.
But last night after watching the finale of Series 2 I was left disappointed. Now I've never served in the military so I don't pretend to be an expert on these matters, but as a layman I've always thought that one of the series' main strengths is that it seems pretty realistic with regard to its portrayal of Army life and the kind of missions that UK special forces troops perhaps get sent on in real life etc. etc. However, the end of last night's episode left something of a bitter aftertaste, simply because the series' main character, Sergeant `Henno' Garvie (ably played by Ross Kemp of `Eastenders' fame) gunned down in cold blood his troop CO, Captain McElwaine, for no other reason than the latter had been shagging the wife of one of his men. The killing was done in cold blood and using a captured AK47 rather than Henno's own weapon to make it appear that the Captain had been killed by enemy fire thus instantly transforming the Henno character into nothing more that a cold-blooded murderer. True, soldiers are trained to kill without hesitation if necessary. But I find it inconceivable that - given the (on the grand scale of things) relatively trivial nature of the Captain's `offence' - these would be the actions of an experienced, senior NCO in Britain's most elite military unit. And I found the actions of the rest of the squad (including their Colonel, who they'd just freed in a daring rescue mission) almost equally bizarre namely dumping the (admittedly unpopular) dead Captain's body in a freezer full of beer and cracking jokes over it. Unbelievable. I hope that this is not the end of the series and that it will be back. Firstly because that last night's closing scenes notwithstanding, it's been such a great show up to now and secondly it would be a pity to end the whole thing on such a negative note there definitely needs to be some character redemption!! Still it's great that all six episodes of Series 1 are now available to buy on DVD, because this series is a must for anyone who enjoys hard-hitting action and / or military drama that pulls no punches.