October 22, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Unit

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Scott Foley, Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick
We gave it a B

Part macho adventurism and part domestic drama, The Unit finds itself pitted against competition that cuts into both of its halves: NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. Is it any wonder this relentless (and I mean that as a compliment) David Mamet-created hour finds itself losing ratings ground in its fourth season?

That’s too bad, because The Unit is currently solving one of its key problems: the dullness of some of its military-wives subplots. In the season premiere, the Special Forces team found itself the target of terrorist threats, ? so the government relocated the wives and changed their identities in the name of safety. Presto: Gone was the show’s most annoying device, the weepy call-in radio show hosted by Kim (Audrey Marie Anderson). Overall, the tension of the move has given the women more to do, to bond over, and to unite against. Only the best actress among them, Regina Taylor, remains hamstrung in her ?unworthy role as wise mother hen.

Meanwhile, the action guys battle plane hijackers, plutonium thieves, and arms ? brokers. Dennis Haysbert continues to lead his men with a stoicism that never stiffens into wooden soldier. Scott Foley still continues to sport an immaculate three-day shadow that I should think would be impossible to maintain during combat assignments. And while I don’t quite buy the introduction of a lissome blonde (Nicole Steinwedell) into the unit, it’s cool: She’s tougher than any woman on TV this side of Sarah Connor. B

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