By Terry Kelleher
June 03, 2002 12:00 PM

VH1 (Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)

Nothing against VH1, but I almost wish this new series were on another network.

Executive producer R.J. Cutler (American High) has a timely and promising concept: Servicemen and women, many of them overseas as part of the war against terrorism, tell their stories through video diaries. Since this is a VH1 show, however, there’s an obligatory overemphasis on the diarists’ musical tastes. In the first of the back-to-back episodes that make up the May 27 premiere, a captain in the Army’s Special Forces treats us to a brief Billy Joel imitation, declares Bob Dylan his “absolute favorite” and confides that the sound of Smashing Pumpkins fits his wartime mood. Thanks for the report, Captain, but I’d much prefer to hear what you’ve been up to in Afghanistan.

The second episode is a big improvement. After fulfilling her VH1 service obligation by discussing the lyrics of “You’ve Got a Friend,” an Army lieutenant speaks from the heart about her efforts to help Afghan children. The chords she strikes make Military Diaries worth tuning into.

Bottom Line: Needs more mission, less music