'Over there' is brutally honest television.

'Over there' is brutally honest television.

"Over There" is one of the best made, well written, brutally honest television shows I've ever seen -- and I have absolutely no idea who would watch it.

"Over There" is one of the first television shows to depict a war currently being fought -- unlike "M*A*S*H" or "Hogan's Heroes" which took place after the end of their specific war. Featuring a cast of newcomers and relative unknowns, "Over There" is the story of a group of soldiers on the front lines of their first tour in Iraq. Along with their brutal experiences, we are shown what effects there are on their families and friends at home where a war of familial survival is also ongoing.

Stephen Bochco, the producer of "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue" brings "Over There" to the screen. As is true with most of his shows, they are gritty, true to life, unflinching, and push the limits of what you've seen before. "Over There" starts out much like "Saving Private Ryan" in that our main characters are thrown into battle before we know much about them. Told via different devices such as flashbacks or video emails, we are transported back to the homes of the soldiers and witness how the war is affecting people who aren't on the front lines.

After watching several episodes of "Over There" and coming from a military family, I'm struck by a couple of thoughts. The show in its effort to remain true to life and honest to the situations it depicts comes off with amazingly graphic violence at times. Something this graphic seems to me like it would put off a great number of average viewers, making me wonder if the show was for them. But by the same token if you are a soldier, officer, or family currently involved in the conflict you are already living the events being depicted -- and have absolutely no idea why you would want to watch a show dealing with what you're trying to survive. Again, I have no idea who this show was made for right now. I applaud Stephen Bochco and F/X for having the courage to attempt such a feat however.

My second thought involved the attempt to keep the show brutally realistic. There are times where the violence, suspicions, and conflicts are so gritty and real that you nearly can't tell if they were staged or not. These are occasionally book ended by moments that are created for television and are totally unrealistic. A soldier standing backlit by the setting sun, sand blowing in just the right way while he stands ready with his weapon -- that are so completely staged to be cinematic and beautiful that it takes away from what the producers were trying to create with such dark and painful situations.

As far as extras are concerned, there are commentaries on three episodes, each by a different group of people. One episode has a cast commentary, another has co-creator Joan Gerolmo, and a pair of military and Iraqi advisors does the last. The commentaries are interesting to compare in order to get both an entertainment and accuracy point of view from and to hear how the show was put together. Also, there is a "Weapons Debriefing" featurette that is really nothing more than the weapons wrangler telling you which weapons are used by each character in the show. "Tour of Duty" Filming "Over There" is the second featurette and takes you into the depths of creating and shooting the show.

Overall, "Over There" stands up to the reviews. It is an accurately portrayed, brilliant, wonderfully acted show. Great pains have been taken for accuracy and to show that war extends home to where the bullets don't fly -- but injuries still happen in different ways. It is quite simply put, one of the best shows I've ever seen that I can't bring myself to finish.

STUDIO: Fox Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2006
PRICE: $39.98
TIME:505 mins.
DVD EXTRAS:Weapons featurette, "Tour of Duty: Filming Over There," and commentary on select episodes.
INTERNET SITE: For more info go to www.foxtvdvd.com.