History Channel begins its eight-episode series tonight entitled SIX. A fictionalized account of the activities of SEAL Team Six, a.k.a. those guys that took out Bin Laden, it covers a bunch of men who serve hard in the field, and the homes they come back to. In the central thread, a former member of their squad, now working in the private industry, has been captured by terrorists, and his comrades must get him back before the bad guys do something horrible to him. But it’s also about their relationships with their wives and one another, too.
The Seal Team SIXers are Bear (Barry Sloane, Revenge), Alex (Kyle Schmid, Copper), Buddha (Juan Pablo Raba, Narcos), and Robert Chase (Edwin Hodge, Chicago Fire). Each of the first three has some slight differentiation, but are pretty much bearded white guys who aren’t young any more, but aren’t old either. They care about brotherhood, they care about children, and they care about their country. Robert is the new guy, because there’s always a new guy, and some of the plot deals with him integrating into the group.
The problem with SIX is, this is not a lot to hang a show on. I know military dramas aren’t exactly meant for everyone, but the very good ones, like HBO’s The Pacific, are enjoyable to a broad audience. SIX has much less complex characters, lacks the development of the moral conflict, and reduces its bad guys to one-note stereotypes of its better forbearers. Subject matter aside, in the age of peak TV, that isn’t the way to make a show that people will want to tune into. It’s shallow and boring.
I applaud that two wives, Lena (Brianne Davis, Hollywood Heights) and Jackie (Nadine Velazquez, The League), are part of the main cast. But neither is interestingly sketched enough to hold much attention. They are pretty much just there to have emotional conflict with their spouses, with few characteristics to set them apart as individuals.
That’s too bad, because the idea of showing families of the soldiers is a strong one that helps humanize them and draws the very stark contrast between their professional and personal lives. The nature of this groups’ work is such that they aren’t on the long deployments, instead sent on targeted missions, and they get to spend a lot of time back in the U.S. The dichotomy is rich territory to explore that SIX underuses majorly.
The show does pick up a bit when it focuses on Rip (Walton Goggins, Justified, The Shield), the former team member who has been captured. Part of this is because there’s more action and depth to Rip’s scenes, and part of it is because Goggins is a magnificent, magnetic actor who captures audience attention easily. Rip is far from a saint, but I would expect nothing less from this actor, who excels at playing shady characters whose redemption you root for, even while knowing there’s a fifty-fifty chance, at best, he will come to the light.
Still, that’s not enough to save a series that drags and is only thinly drawn. I think the concept of SIX is a good one, and I am definitely in favor a television program that shows the reality of war and deals with the mental state of the modern United States serviceman or woman. Something like that is important in this age of long, drawn-out conflicts that mostly go on to the ignorance of the American public, who know very little about the reality of the situation. Unfortunately, SIX isn’t that, it’s a mediocre series, and it will do little to shine the spotlight where it needs to be shone.
SIX premieres tonight at 10/9c on History Channel.