We generally have two kinds of commenters around here.
Older veterans (and their families) tend to remember military service as a time of God, loyalty to country, respect for authority, selfless sacrifice, rock-solid devotion to loved ones back home and impeccably clean language. Anything that suggests that reality might have been (or continues to be) more complicated is interpreted as an attack on the very foundations of our great nation.
Younger veterans who served in country (the ones whose memories are still fresh) tend not to have too many issues with profanity, illicit sex or incompetence in the chain of command, but anyone who gets the particulars of weapons, uniforms or a military occupational specialty wrong is a toxic idiot.
Welcome to the Paramount Network's new military satire "68 Whiskey," a program engineered to make all of your heads explode. The show (airing Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET) comes from producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, but anyone expecting the kind of family-friendly entertainment they're known for ("Splash," "Apollo 13," "24," "The Da Vinci Code") will be truly shocked by what's on offer here.
We're in Afghanistan, at a moment sometime during the current wars, at a base nicknamed "The Orphanage." We follow crew of Army medics as they interact with the troops, officers, locals and security contractors.
The show opens with our hero, Army medic Cooper Roback (Sam Keeley), getting busy in a medical supply room with Grace Durkin (Gage Golightly). The first line of dialogue she speaks is "I love the way you [expletive] me." They're mostly clothed, but Roback (how to say this?) ends the encounter in a way sure to appall many of our readers.
Grace, who has a side gig as an Instagram model who poses in a bikini with tactical weapons, is in a relationship with a giant military contractor called Sasquatch (Derek Thaler). But Cooper's digital skills keep her coming back.
At this point, we should all realize that "68 Whiskey" is going to push the rules of basic cable to their absolute limits. All the stuff that "M*A*S*H" could barely hint at is spelled out in capital letters here.
Things spin wildly after that. Cooper fights Sasquatch in an MMA fight that's happening while he's on duty. Just after he gets his ass kicked, he jumps on a chopper with his team and heads out on a rescue mission.
A troop dies because they miss his exit wound, and fellow medic Rosa Alvarez (Cristina Rodio) blames herself for the mistake. She doesn't have much time to wallow in self-pity because it turns out she's a Mexican national and she's now getting kicked out of the Army and deported because an unnamed administration in D.C. has revoked her DACA status.
And then there's the plot where Roback and his bud Mekhi Davis (Jeremy Tardy) devise a plan to recoup the money they lost on the aforementioned fight by stealing expired medical supplies and swapping them for 10 lbs. of hashish.
There's also young Pvt. Petrocelli (Nicholas Coombe) who believes that the spirit of the troop who died of his exit wound has transmigrated into a goat, a goat who soon thereafter bites two fingers off of a gigantic Australian military contractor.
And then there's the creative way that Alvarez finds to avoid her deportation and stay on active duty, a move that will distress any readers who believe that true love waits.
OK, so we've left the realm of "realism" here and moved into some kind of crazy convoluted telenovela plot, except with a lot more blood, profanity and sex. And drugs. Everyone does lots of drugs. By the end of the third episode, the intent is clear. We're deep into the "Afghan" hills of New Mexico, riffing away with whatever outrageous nonsense comes to mind.
Could this show turn out to be truly funny? It's too early to say, since the first three episodes are just spraying ideas in an incredibly scattershot fashion and waiting to see what sticks. But consider yourself warned: "68 Whiskey" is not a show that pretends to "get it right" and probably doesn't care how mad you get.