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Little wonder then that "Over There," the first television dramatic series about a war in progress, is coming under fire, from people who served in Iraq, for getting the small things wrong. Television requires drama. Soldiers prefer precision. So when a group of grunts is shown clumped together on a berm making themselves a rich target or an improvised explosive device has a little flag on it, they tend to question the series as a whole.
Through the Web and various veterans groups, The New York Times contacted more than a dozen soldiers, all of whom had been on active duty in Iraq and have since returned. They had a variety of opinions on the war they served in, but were almost universally negative about the show that attempts to depict it. (A spokeswoman for the United States Army declined to comment on the series.)
We see sand, we see guns and we see people in helmets," said Benjamin Flanders, who served as a military police sergeant in 2004 and 2005 as a member of the New Hampshire National Guard in and around Baghdad. "But I don't think that it addresses the real issues of being a soldier or what is going on in Iraq."
Rowe Stayton, a former lawyer who volunteered for duty in the Army National Guard at age 50, said that the series had affected him even though, as a fire team leader in 2004, the war he experienced was a close-in, urban affair, not a battle fought out in vast expanses of the desert.
Much of what Mr. Bochco is taking hits over has to do with the generic requirements of television. To create storylines, he uses characters who scan to some people as clichés - the gung-ho all-American white kid who is maimed, the bitter dope-smoking black guy. And necessarily, action must be compressed, which does not reflect the grinding reality of real-time soldiering, a mix of weeks of boredom interrupted by occasional moments of terror. In blogs and interviews, soldiers suggested that the Army unit Mr. Bochco depicts saw more action in the first few episodes than they did in their entire tours.