TV Review: ’68 Whiskey’ on Paramount – An Addictive Depiction of Life of the Deployed Soldier

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(L-R) Sam Keeley as Cooper Roback and Jeremy Tardy as Mekhi Davis. Episode 1 of 68 Whiskey - “Buckley’s Goat” premieres Wednesday, January 15 at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Paramount Network.

From executive producers, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer come “68 Whiskey,” a new show on Paramount that follows a group of Army medics in Afghanistan in a camp called “The Orphanage.” This new dramedy is both engaging and funny as it takes a close look at the many struggles deployed Army soldiers deal with on a daily basis.

Created by Roberto Benabib, “68 Whiskey” is named after the universal Army medic call sign of the same name. “68 Whiskey” provides several interesting characters such as Cooper Roback, (Irish actor Sam Keeley) an optimistic Californian with a dark secret, Mekhi Davis, (Jeremy Tardy) Roback’s partner in crime from the south side of Chicago, and Rosa Alvarez, (Cristina Rodlo), an immigrant soldier who joined the Army to gain citizenship.

The characters in “68 Whiskey” are well developed and provide a nice range of personalities. Derek Theler stars as Sasquatch, a special forces soldier who is dating fellow soldier Grace Durkin, (Gage Golightly) a model wants to move to LA after deployment to be a stunt woman. The tension between the medics and special forces soldiers provides an additional interesting element between the medics and those of special forces as they work in the shadows and bully medics due to their rank.

(L-R) Gage Golightly as Grace Durkin, Jeremy Tardy as Mekhi Davis, Lamont Thompson as Col. Harlan Austin, Sam Keeley as Cooper Roback, Derek Theler as Sasquatch, Cristina Rodlo as Rosa Alvarez, Nicholas Coombe as Private Anthony Petrocelli and Beth Riesgraf as Major Sonia Holloway. Episode 1 of 68 Whiskey – “Buckley’s Goat” premieres Wednesday, January 15 at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Paramount Network.

Along with the medics is straight shooter Major Sonia Holloway, (Beth Riesgraf) the surgeon who runs the hospital on base and butts heads with Roback as he continually breaks the rules. Other characters include Usam Ally as a British doctor in the base hospital and Lamont Thompson as Col. Harlan Austin, the gruff and strict colonel of the base.

A particularly ethos element of “68 Whiskey” is Rose Alvarez who is not technically a U.S. citizen but joined in the Army with the promise of citizenship. Despite her service for a country that she is technically not a member of, fear of her family’s deportation is a common theme in “68 Whiskey.” Roback and Davis are like big brothers to Alvarez, who are both protective and respectful of Alvarez as a fellow soldier. This dynamic trio and Alvarez’s complication is one of the best parts of the “68 Whiskey.”

Derek Theler as Sasquatch. Episode 1 of 68 Whiskey – “Buckley’s Goat” premieres Wednesday, January 15 at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Paramount Network.

Simply put, everything about “68 Whiskey” works. The stories of the characters, the struggles they all face, the characters themselves, the danger each soldier is in daily, each aspect of “68 Whiskey” is perfectly balanced and well thought out. Mixing drama and comedy together seamlessly, “68 Whiskey” explores the many stresses of deployment from financial burdens to send money home to family to the everyday stresses of living in a war zone.

“68 Whiskey” provides many thoughtful and compelling storylines, interesting characters, and a variety of complications that create an addictive show that one is sure to count down the minutes until the next episode. With nothing else like it on TV, these elements make “68 Whiskey” an engaging must-watch show.

“68 Whiskey” premieres on Paramount Network on Wednesday, January 15. The first three episodes were screened for review.

GRADE: (★)

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