Baghdad Hospital: Inside the Red Zone



8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29

HBO has been keeping close vigil on the human toll of the Iraq War, as we saw, for example, in its acclaimed 2006 docu "Baghdad ER," which took us inside a hospital's valiant efforts to save American GIs and others as the war progressed. Now comes "Baghdad Hospital: Inside the Red Zone," a chilling yet extremely affecting view of the goings-on at Al-Yarmouk hospital, which the locals call a "field hospital in a civil war."

Inside its doors, we are witness to the especially tragic toll the war has taken on local children who are maimed, even killed. This is classy reporting of the first order and a fascinating view of the heroes who work to save lives in an unforgiving, unrelenting war zone.

Dr. Omer Salih Mahdi is the local hero of the docu, a man who puts himself and his colleagues at risk every day inside the hospital. His ER is so dangerous that it's not even safe for an American crew to get inside. Mahdi is taking such a chance leading us here that an actor takes his place until the docu's ending.

We find shrieking kids and adults, those who might be mended, and those civilians who won't survive the attacks that emanate from ongoing crossfire between Iraqi Shiites and Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaeda. Cameras catch up-close the endless tragedy that spills out every day. This docu is hard to forget, with its relentless chase of human suffering from this war.