The Unit

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The Unit
The Unit 2006 Intertitle.png
The Unit intertitle
Format Military procedural
Action
Drama
Thriller
Created by David Mamet
Based on Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counter terrorist Unit
By Eric L. Haney
Starring Dennis Haysbert
Regina Taylor
Scott Foley
Robert Patrick
Audrey Marie Anderson
Max Martini
Abby Brammell
Demore Barnes
Michael Irby
Nicole Steinwedell
Theme music composer Robert Duncan
Opening theme "Fired Up" (Seasons 1-2)
"Walk the Fire" (Season 3 onward)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 69 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) David Mamet Chicago
MiddKid Productions
CBS Paramount Network Television
20th Century Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run March 7, 2006 (2006-03-07) – May 10, 2009 (2009-05-10)

The Unit is an American action-drama television series that focused on a top-secret military unit modeled after the real-life U.S. Army special operations unit commonly known as Delta Force. The series originally aired on CBS from March 7, 2006 to May 10, 2009.

Production[edit]

The program features both the domestic lives of the team members and their missions abroad, in addition to the effects their careers have on their home lives, wives and girlfriends. It premiered in the United States on March 7, 2006, on CBS as a mid-season replacement. The second season debuted on September 19, 2006.

The third season started on September 25, 2007, with a hiatus occurring after the 11th episode due to 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike. The show was picked up for a fourth and final season by CBS on May 12, 2008.[1]

The fourth and final season began on September 28, 2008, and concluded on May 10, 2009. On May 19, 2009, it was announced that, after four seasons and 69 episodes, the series had been canceled by CBS.[2] But on the same day, producers 20th Century Fox Television announced that the reruns of the show would be broadcast in syndication, in stations covering 56 percent of the country already committed to carrying the show, including the Fox Television Stations.[3]

Premise[edit]

Based on show producer Eric L. Haney's book, Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counter terrorist Unit (ISBN 0-440-23733-5), The Unit was created for television and executive produced by David Mamet and Shawn Ryan. The show is produced by The Barn Productions Inc., David Mamet Entertainment, and Fire Ants Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

The show purports to describe the daily lives of Delta Force (called "The Unit" in the show) operators during training and operational missions as well as their families back home.

Internationally, The Unit premiered on October 3, 2006, in the United Kingdom on Bravo; on October 11, 2006, in Australia on the Seven Network and on FOX8 and Arena on Foxtel/Austar pay-TV network and now airs on 7Two on Tuesdays at 8:30 pm; on January 11 in Spain on La Sexta; on January 25 in The Netherlands on RTL 5; on March 7 in Germany on Sat. 1; on September 23 in Bulgaria on bTV; on March 9, 2008, in Russia on DTV; and on June 13, 2009, in Vietnam on VTC7-Today TV, in Turkey by TNT, and in Indonesia on Global TV.

The theme music for the first and second season was "Fired Up" by Robert Duncan. Although the show focuses on an Army special ops unit, "Fired Up" is an adaptation of a Marine Corps running cadence called "Fired Up, Feels Good". Duncan also created "Walk the Fire", a 22-second segment used as a theme since season three.

Summary[edit]

"The Unit" is the U.S. Army colloquial term for Delta Force. Its recruits are selected from the United States Army (primarily from the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces Groups). The few who pass selection then undergo several more years of sophisticated and rigorous training for counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, and direct action missions. In a TV interview, series creator Eric Haney—who is a former Delta Force operator—stated that the term "Delta Force" is never used in the spec ops community. They are only referred to as "The Unit" and their DOD designation is "Combat Applications Group". The official cover name of The Unit in the show is the similar sounding "303rd Logistical Studies Group". In the third season's premiere, an onscreen read-out specifically identifies The Unit as "1st Special Actions Group", reminiscent of 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta.

The Unit is based at a fictional army post, "Fort Griffith". The location of Fort Griffith is never explicitly stated, but in Episode 103, a bank statement of the lead character clearly shows an address for Fort Griffith, MO 63021, which puts it a few miles west of St. Louis. Other episodes make clear references to Greenwood, including mentions of Greenwood/Fort Griffith area, and local Greenwood police cars as well as Missouri license plates clearly appear in many episodes. Greenwood, Missouri is a small town located southeast of Kansas City. However the red, white and blue license plate is from the state of Idaho. This license plate can be seen in almost all the episodes. Unit members also wear the shoulder sleeve insignia of the inactivated 24th Infantry Division on their Class A uniforms, as well as the shoulder crest of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, "Strike Hold", currently part of the 1st ABCT of the 82nd Airborne Division. In later episodes, Unit members are shown as wearing the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) patch on their Class A uniforms.

The Unit's immediate chain of command goes to the commanding officer, Colonel Tom Ryan—and, presumably, straight to the President of the United States. It is unknown if this bypasses the Secretary of Defense Though, in the season 4 episode, "The Spear of Destiny," a side character receives confidential mission information and when questioned on who sent her, replies, "The Secretary of Defense." However in the episode, "The Broom Cupboard" the President gives orders directly to Jonas for a Unit mission.

The wives of The Unit's Alpha Team personnel are given minimal mission or operational information. They are responsible for maintaining the "303rd Logistical Studies Group" cover in all interactions with anyone who is not a Unit family member. Their husbands are, in fact, still performing highly dangerous missions, but they are not permitted to know specifics, such as where their husbands are deployed, what their training routines consist of, how long their assignments will last, or even if their husbands are safe.

If a member of The Unit is killed in action, the actual mode of death is not told to the families. A cover story concurrent with a member of the 303 Logistical Studies Unit is created. The wives themselves are encouraged to form a close, cohesive military family based on the common knowledge and strife this inevitably leads to.

The Unit has an unconventional structure. With the size of a company—approximately 130 operators—it is commanded by a Colonel (companies are usually commanded by Captains; Colonels usually command elements such as brigades or regiments). This is parallel to Delta's structure, which was implemented by Col. Charles Alvin Beckwith. The CO, Colonel Ryan, normally wears a "sanitized" uniform (bearing absolutely no tapes, such as his name, or even U.S. Army, or rank insignia).

Whereas a Special Forces ODA (Operational Detachment—Alpha) is commanded by a Captain, the Unit sends five-man teams into the field under non-commissioned officers, such as the team led by Command Sergeant Major Jonas Blane, The Unit's NCOIC of Alpha Team. It is possible that their soldiers have the same Special Forces specialties as in Army Special Forces. An ODA, formerly known as an "A-Team", has Weapons Sergeants, Engineering Sergeants, Medical Sergeants, Communications Sergeants, etc.

The wives, if suspected of speaking about The Unit's existence, can cause their husbands to be expelled and returned to regular Army service. Colonel Ryan has stated, time and again, that this can ruin a soldier's career, as well as his marriage, and has also stated that he will not hesitate to destroy families in order to preserve The Unit's security. He has also threatened the wives with closing The Unit down, and restarting it somewhere else under another cover—forcing the uprooting of all families involved.

The Unit deploys throughout the world, and both the Army and United States government have the ability to deny the existence of The Unit and any of its members in order to prevent the onset of international incidents. Their uniforms are commonly not standard Army issue, which makes it easier to deny their connection with the US Army if they are killed or captured. They also carry weapons that are not always standard issue and the Unit's personnel are well-familiarized with weapons from around the world and can make themselves look like military personnel from other organizations. Unit members can and are sometimes also working as protection details for U.S. diplomats on visit overseas as well as foreign dignitaries and State Department designated VIPs on U.S. soil; in which cases they are attached to the Diplomatic Security Service and do carry the official DSS Special Agent badge.

The Unit's members will frequently use code names such as Snake Doctor, Dirt Diver, Betty Blue, Cool Breeze and Hammer Head, as well as colors (Mr. White, Green, Blue, Black). These are usually used when working directly with American civilians, other English speakers not trained for emergencies, or on counter-terrorism missions. According to Jonas Blane, the order of precedence for his team after he is disabled, is, from top to bottom: Mack Gerhardt, Charles Grey, Hector Williams, and Bob Brown based on seniority.

Cast[edit]

Actor Role Callsign Season
Dennis Haysbert Sergeant Major** Jonas Blane Snake Doctor 1–4
Regina Taylor Molly Blane 1–4
Scott Foley Sergeant First Class** Bob Brown Moreno, then Whipporwill until compromised midway through first season/Cool Breeze for the remainder of the series 1–4
Audrey Marie Anderson Kim Brown 1–4
Max Martini Master Sergeant** Mack Gerhardt Dirt Diver (Jonas called Mack "Dutchman" in S04E11) 1–4
Abby Brammell Tiffy Gerhardt 1–4
Michael Irby Sergeant First Class Charles Grey Betty Blue 1–4
Bre Blair Joss Grey* 4
Robert Patrick Brigadier General** Thomas Ryan Dog Patch 06/Blue Iguana when on operation (callsign Hatchet was used in S04E11. He was also called "Betty Blue" during a telephone call to him from Jonas Blane. 1–4
Rebecca Pidgeon Charlotte Ryan* 1–4
Demore Barnes Sergeant First Class Hector Williams Hammer Head 1–3
Nicole Steinwedell Warrant Officer One Bridget Sullivan Red Cap 4
Wes Chatham Staff Sergeant Sam McBride Whiplash 4
Kavita Patil Sergeant Kayla Medawar 1–4
Susan Matus Sergeant Sarah Irvine 2–4
Angel Wainwright Second Lieutenant Betsy Blane 1–4
Summer Glau Crystal Burns 2
Daniel Wisler Jeremy Erhart 2
Alyssa Shafer Serena Brown 1–4

Notes[edit]

^** There are continuity errors regarding the rank of Jonas Blane. In "Pandemonium, Part 2", Blane states his rank as Command Sergeant Major, his uniform rank is Sergeant Major. In the United States Army, however, soldiers are often laterally transitioned between the ranks depending on their assignments. Command Sergeants Major are also addressed as "Sergeant Major" when in conversation, not "Command Sergeant Major". This is similar to the rules where a Staff Sergeant or Sergeant First Class are addressed simply as "Sergeant".

^** Promoted from Staff Sergeant during "Side Angle Side".

^** Although this might have just been dirty talk, a similar continuity error exists regarding the rank of Mack Gerhardt. In the season 1 episode "True Believers" his wife says to him "come here Sergeant Major, and give me a report," but his rank is later established as Master Sergeant. In the final wedding scene of season 4, however, Mack is shown with E-7, or Sergeant First Class, rank on his uniform.

^** Promoted from Colonel during "Unknown Soldier".

^* Formerly Morgan; married Grey in "Unknown Soldier".

^* Formerly Canning; married Ryan in "The Wall".

^† Killed in action after saving Grey's life, Beirut, Lebanon during "Five Brothers".

Alpha team has used the callsigns Anaconda and Buckboard .

Episodes[edit]

Reception[edit]

Seasonal ratings[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired Viewers
(millions)
Rank
Season premiere Season finale
1 13 March 7, 2006 (2006-03-07) May 16, 2006 (2006-05-16) 15.5[4] 14[4]
2 23 September 19, 2006 (2006-09-19) May 8, 2007 (2007-05-08) 11.1[5] 36[5]
3 11 September 25, 2007 (2007-09-25) December 18, 2007 (2007-12-18) 10.7[6] 37[6]
4 22 September 28, 2008 (2008-09-28) May 10, 2009 (2009-05-10) 10.0 43

Episodic ratings[edit]

Prospective storyline for the fifth season[edit]

According to an interview executive producer Shawn Ryan gave to The Futon Critic "[David] Mamet and I and our writers, we came up with a lot of great stuff," Ryan said about his pitch to CBS executives for a potential fifth season. "It was going to be a whole new show in the sense that we were going to be training some young people, Bob was going to be training some people for a whole new organization. Jonas was finally going to be seeing his run end......The final season was going to be, I figured the fifth season was going to be the last... It was going to be a long, sort of final mission for Jonas. He's not medically cleared, Mack has to go in and sort of change the medical records so that Jonas can keep on [going on missions]. We had a whole thing planned, it was going to be good." Jonas would eventually leave the army due to his injuries coupled with combat stress and reunite with Molly. Mack would take over the team but at the end of the series would also leave for a training post after Tiffy becomes pregnant with their third child. Bob would be badly injured in a parachuting accident and join the CIA as their Unit liaison. Ryan would take a demotion to regain control of The Unit whilst Bridget Sullivan would be killed on a mission halfway through the season. Charles Grey would take over as team leader with Sam McBride as his deputy training replacements for the personnel they have lost.

Other storylines would include the recruitment of more female members, the team being hounded by human rights campaigners intent on bringing them to trial for their actions, the CIA creating its own rival commando force as a mirror image of The Unit, the search for a mole within the organization leaking information to the highest bidder, the Army's treatment of soldiers suffering debilitating injuries and combat stress and Sam McBride confiding to Bridget Sullivan that he is the Unit's first gay member.[7][8]

DVD releases[edit]

DVD Name Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Region 4
The Complete First Season September 19, 2006 April 30, 2007

France: July 4, 2007
Belgium: August 8, 2007

April 18, 2007 April 18, 2007
The Complete Second Season September 25, 2007 October 22, 2007 TBA March 4, 2008
The Complete Third Season October 14, 2008 October 20, 2008 TBA April 8, 2009
The Complete Fourth Season September 29, 2009 February 22, 2010 TBA May, 2010
The Unit: The Complete Giftset September 29, 2009 February 22, 2010 TBA May, 2010

Main crew[edit]

Series directed by:

Series writing credits:

  • David Mamet (67 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Eric L. Haney (66 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Randy Huggins (25 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Emily Halpern (24 episodes, 2006–2007)
  • Lynn Mamet (12 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Sterling Anderson (12 episodes, 2006)
  • Sharon Lee Watson (10 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Todd Ellis Kessler (8 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Daniel Voll (5 episodes, 2006–2008)
  • Paul Redford (4 episodes, 2006)
  • Ted Humphrey (4 episodes, 2008–2009)
  • Dan Hindmarch (3 episodes, 2006–2009)
  • Frank Military (3 episodes, 2007–2008)
  • Shawn Ryan (2 episodes, 2006–2007)
  • Carol Flint (2 episodes, 2006)
  • Peter Blaber (2 episodes, 2008–2009)
  • Patrick Moss (2 episodes, 2008–2009)
  • Benjamin Daniel Lobato (2 episodes, 2009)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Show Tracker". The Los Angeles Times. May 12, 2008. 
  2. ^ ""The Unit," "Earl," "Medium" get the ax". Reuters. May 20, 2009. 
  3. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 19, 2009). "'The Unit' to live in syndication". THR.com. 
  4. ^ a b "2005–06 primetime wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. May 26, 2006. Retrieved February 15, 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b "2006–07 primetime wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. March 25, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Season Program Rankings from 09/24/07 though 05/25/08". ABC Medianet. May 28, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Breaking News - Exclusive: Ryan Shares What Might Have Been on "The Unit"". TheFutonCritic.com. 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  8. ^ "The Unit" (2006) - FAQ

External links[edit]