Mail Call - Best of Season One
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: B+
In one of
TV’s big surprises, and few bright spots of late, The History Channel has come
up with a real winner with Mail Call. The title refers to the traditional distribution
of mail to troops, but here, it is a series that answers questions about how
the various branches of the military operate and with what. Besides being extremely well-written, the
real coup of the series is host R. Lee Ermey.
forever immortalized in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 masterpiece Full Metal Jacket as an uncompromising drill sergeant, Ermey has
been appearing in feature films since Francis Coppola’s equally brilliant Apocalypse Now (both versions) and in
Sidney J. Furie’s less-seen The Boys
from Company C (1978) among others.
As a matter of fact, he is so recognizable; a majority of people who
recognize him at the time of this writing still cannot tell you his name.
be slowly changing, because this exceptional show has quickly become the
highest-rated series in The History Channel.
Ermey is perfect as a host because he has a great sense of humor,
presence, knowledge beyond the write-ups, and is the epitome of success in
having a military career. He makes for a
great contrast to the long, rich, and ever-remarkable history of how technology
and operations have been constantly improved and refined. The fall and retirement of great gadgets is
just as impressive and makes for a great tribute to unsung successes that may
now finally be declassified.
respect, it is nearly like watching a show about spies and espionage, and it
liberally crosses over into that territory often enough. However, it is an expansive record of how far
the U.S. Military has gone in doing what it takes to be the best in the
world. We hear so many bad stories about
what goes wrong, that it is terrific (9/11/01 attacks, Vietnam, or not) to see all the things
that have worked. The best part is how
very experimental that various military branches have been willing to be in
coming up with new things that might be useful and could (or could not) catch
includes the following installments by subject:
Launchers to Jet Packs
to the 21 Gun Salute
to Tunnel Rats
to Clearing Minefields
Armor to WWI Pilots
Armor to Land Mines
Guard Ships to WWII V-Mail
screen, color images are from analog videotape with the usual varying image
quality due to the documentary nature of the series. The transfer is a tad less sharp than
expected otherwise, for being a recent analog videotape production, but looks
good enough just the same. The sound is
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but it is simple and clear stereo. There is not really any surround activity
either. Extras on this first DVD are
few, but include a brief biography of Ermey and “Larger Than Life” promo spots
that launched the show so well.
always something interesting, fun, and even exciting to learn from this
show. It is one of the few hits today
that truly deserves its success. Once
again, Cable/Satellite has outdone Network TV, while I doubt we would see this
show on PBS for reasons too numerous to go into at this time.
way, this is a winner and is bound to become a TV classic, so be sure to catch
- Nicholas Sheffo