LAST EDITED ON 03-11-02 AT 06:59 AM (EST)
All across the nation, perhaps the world, little boys (and a few little girls, I am sure) play soldier in the afternoon after school. Perhaps they play “cowboys and indians” or attack each other in pine cone battles to the death. They go in to wash up, eat supper, do their homework. Then they tune to the USA Network.
“And now, Combat Missions! A USA Original Series!” proudly proclaims the television. “Original” would certainly be one way of putting it, yes.
The TV assures the little boys and girls (and us bigger boys and girls) that Combat Missions shows us the best our (USA) military has to offer.
The next day, the little boys go out to play after school. They choose teams for football, or perhaps put on baseball gloves. Some throw frisbees or balls to their dogs, while others hasten to join the school band. But after seeing Combat Missions the night before, they aren’t playing soldier. They’ve seen the “best” our military has to offer, and his name is Scott Helvenston. And they’re not playing soldier, anymore.
Episodes 7 and 8 are brought to you by:
the numbers “3”, “0”, “22” and “15”;
the letter “H” (for Helvenston);
and the words “upchuck”, “ruck”, and “honor”.
Evolution 7 – Delta (2-1) vs. Alpha (1-2)
Scott Helvenston has the distinction of being the youngest man ever to become a United States Navy SEAL when he was 17. Since, he has become a world champion pentathlete, and won several marksmanship prizes. Remember as you read this that Helvenston is supposedly THE BEST our military has to offer.
The show opens with the traditional falling in of the contestants to hear Col. Rudy’s boring remarks. With my expertise of the military, I can assure you that soldiers get as much sleep as they can whenever they can. Look at these guys closely: they are literally asleep on their feet as Col. Rudy talks. They wake up just long enough to hear Col. Rudy welcome the new players. “I’d like to welcome the new guys that were chosen. You poor bOObs.” *SLAP!* (Dawg! This is not Survivor!) Er, sorry about that, folks.
The show opens with Scott Helvenston working out in the cold weather in shorts, shoes, and nothing else. Col. Rudy remarks that “Helvenston has a great body, but a big mouth. I wish I were in as good shape as he is. He’s in such great shape… what a body….” Rudy? Rudy! It appears that Rudy hung out with Dicque a little too much in Survivor I. Where is that medic babe Heather when Rudy REALLY needs her? Col. Rudy also says that Helvenston can walk the talk, like Muhammad Ali. Col. Rudy, have you SEEN Muhammad Ali lately? The poor man is battling Parkinson’s Disease. At least Ali has an excuse. Helvenston is going to be shaking, but it will be the result of blunt force trauma from a blanket party that he is surely going to get.
After a little bit of verbal jabbing and “confessionals” between Alpha’s O’Shea and Helvenston, they are ready for the first training exercise. They must shoot paper targets with their rifles. At this time, Helvenston begins to annoy Alpha with trash talk. He’s trying to get into Alpha’s heads, and he succeeds. After two rounds, Delta has a commanding lead on Alpha (16-9). The final score is Delta 20, Alpha 12, mostly because Alpha was trying to shoot Helvenston instead of the targets. Helvenston hid behind Sgt. Maj. Voiceover and avoided being shot. Helvenston is very good at hiding behind others. Delta gets 25 points, not for winning, but for not taking a few shots at Helvenston themselves.
The LA SWAT Old Man is still hanging around, since he has nowhere else in particular to be. He says that Helvenston is a real troublemaker, but successful, and he can be a real pain. Meanwhile, Helvenston is claiming that his childish behavior is merely “PsyOps”, which means “psychological operations” in military-ese. Helvenston, let me tell you something: my closest co-worker is was in Viet Nam with the 173d Airborne Brigade. He subsequently served in the 101st Airborne Division before going to the JFK Special Operations Center at Ft. Bragg, NC, to do (guess what) PsyOps.
Scott, I know PsyOps. PsyOps is a friend of mine. Scott, you’re no PsyOps.
Oates of Alpha Squad suggests in “confession” that Helvenston is acting like Oates’ three year old child when he wants attention. Meanwhile everyone goes for the mission briefing. Sgt. Maj. Voiceover, whose voice sounds like a voiceover even when it doesn’t need to, gives the mission brief. Sgt. Maj. Voiceover has no new awards on his chest. They must’ve run out of those at MB headquarters.
The mission is called “Pilot Down”, yet another unoriginal name that we have come to expect from this bunch. The idea is to rescue a downed pilot from the Opposing Force (OPFOR). MB calls his OPFOR the “Shadow Squad.” We can call them the “John Wayne” Squad because they like to stand up in the open to shoot, then seem surprised when they get killed. The team must go to an extract point, then the briefers tell us that there is an alternate extract point. Any ROTC cadet can tell you that something is going to happen and they’ll have to go to the alternate extract point. The Alternate Extract Point is 400 meters (over 400 yards) away from the Primary Extract Point, over rough, hilly terrain.
There are snow flurries in the camp, but that doesn’t stop Nutter of Delta squad from going outside without his shirt. There is a 2d exercise before the mission, the criss-cross grid that was seen a few episodes ago. Either MB is losing his creativity, or he’s running out of money. We can only hope it’s the latter.
Helvenston talks trash, then as the starting whistle blows, he runs and hides behind his Delta comrades. Alpha can’t get to him. The first match is waved off for some violation of the rules. Helvenston and Alpha’s Spicer talk some trash as Helvenston proclaims “You ain’t got no honor! You ain’t got no honor!” with a little dance to go along with it. No, Scotty-boy, YOU ain’t got no honor. Remember, folks, that this guy is the best our military has to offer.
In confessional, Spicer says that Helvenston is not acting like a professional. Nutter thinks the whole conflict is funny. In the second face-off, someone from Alpha gets up to Helvenston and hits him on the back of the head. A Delta puts that Alpha in a headlock as a near-fistfight ensues. Helvenston says in confessional “They never got me.”, showing that he has an alternate version of reality from most of us… or maybe that head blow he took just damaged his memory. Of course, it WAS hard to get to him, he kept hiding behind others. Remember, folks, that this guy is supposedly THE BEST our military has to offer.
In the third heat, Helvenston hides behind his Delta teammates and is one of two Delta’s still standing when the rest are in the water. Delta wins the competition and gets 50 points, bringing their total to 1075 for the mission. Afterward, Spicer talks to the other Deltas to see if they can bring Helvenston under control. For the moment, he leaves it at that. Estadt (of Delta), however, says that the Delta’s will protect each other and take care of their own. Oates of Alpha says he’s about to cry and wants to go to the ring with Helvenston. And O’Shea, a Navy SEAL himself, says that Helvenston has “crossed the line.”
Sensing trouble brewing, Col. Rudy calls a meeting of all four squads. Sgt. Maj. Voiceover tells us that the players respect Col. Rudy because Rudy has served his country longer than most of the players have been alive. I respect Rudy’s long record of service, also, and am saddened that such a great patriot is reduced to having to be on this show.
At the meeting, the Alpha’s bluntly say that Helvenston is displaying a lack of sportsmanship, to which Helvenston cries “Waah!” O’Shea points out that it’s embarrassing and it’s personal and H. is hurting himself. Spicer goes further, saying that H. is embarrassing the Navy SEALs. At this point, general chaos ensues, and Helvenston is heard crying out “break out the polygraph!” Helvenston asks if anyone else is embarrassed by his conduct. Sergeant Major Dever, in the first time speaking without a voiceover, says “Yes, I’m embarrassed by you, also.” Woooooo. Helvenston replies “I only care about what my teammates think. I certainly don’t care what a voiceover like you thinks!” Charlie’s Cade also says that H. is an embarrassment to all the players there. As Col. Rudy begins to speak, H. interrupts with some “waah, waah” type talk and Sgt. Maj. Voiceover thunders “DON’T INTERRUPT THE COMMANDER!” H. shuts up for the first time that day.
Col. Rudy, knowing that Helvenston’s safety and perhaps his life is in serious danger (not kidding here at all, folks), takes Helvenston to another tent to talk privately. Helvenston turns on his @$$-kissing skills as Col. Rudy tells him to keep his mouth shut. Helvenston tells Rudy that Rudy reminds him of his grandfather. Rudy should slap the crap out of H. for comparing him to ANY Helvenston family member, but he returns H.’s hug instead. Rudy has learned how to be a TV personality, fer sure.
And Helvenston is supposed to be THE BEST our military has to offer.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Maj. Voiceover attempts to soothe Alpha. Rudy is in the Snake Pit (bar) with all the Delta’s, again admonishing Helvenston to keep his mouth shut.
Finally, we get to the missions. You know, the purpose of this lousy show. Delta goes first. They move in and get to the pilot with 8:48 elapsed. The times are very important here, so pay attention! They drag the pilot to safety with 12:10 elapsed. I don’t know how much that “pilot” is getting paid for being on the show, but it HURTS to be dragged on the ground like that. I’ll bet his butt was sore the next morning, and as swollen as the Survivor IV immunity idol.
They arrive at the primary extract point, which conveniently has a disk on the ground. Like those disks are going to be conveniently there during actual combat. I don’t think so. Suddenly, a John Wayne gets up and shoots down the helicopter for extract! A huge fireball rises to the sky over the hill skyline, and the players are told they have to go to the Alternate Extract Point. As they make their way down, fighting OPFOR soldiers along the way, they lose one man at the 29:40 mark. Their mission takes 32 minutes to complete as they hook up to a helicopter line and are whisked away.
Alpha starts the mission. Spicer gets to the pilot in 5 minutes. Oates is killed off. The chopper goes down at the primary extract point at 15:18 elapsed, and the Alpha’s say words not fit for publication in a family summary like this one. What, guys, were you surprised at this development?
The OPFOR plan an ambush for Alpha. In Evolution 1, you might recall that Alpha lost five of six men to such an ambush at the end of their first mission. It should surprise no one that they have not learned their lesson. Three men die in a fierce firefight, which ends with 23:49 elapsed, and the remaining two unmercifully drag that poor pilot to the Alternate Extract Point. The total time is 28 minutes.
The mission results briefing is tense. Delta wins convincingly. Baz, the CIA Operative in Delta, says that Helvensten probably wants to go over and rub it in, but won’t. Probably a smart idea right about now.
The sad bugle music plays as they go into the Discharge Room. O’Shea is sniffling, looking like he’s about to cry. For good reason: he is voted out of the tribe. As the squads line up for the dismissal, Helvenston takes his usual place: behind his teammates, with a smirk on his face.
O’Shea says that he respects all the players, except one. Helvenston, in confessional, states that O’Shea being dismissed is “a just world scenario.” And what I have to say about it is not fit for publication in a family summary like this one.
Evolution 8 - Bravo v. Charlie
Bravo and Charlie squads have one thing in common: the numbers “3” and “0”. Bravo has three wins and no losses; Charlie, by way of contrast, has no wins and three losses.
As the show begins, the soldiers are called to fall into formation. They lollygag up to the formation, clearly bored and not making the effort.
Greaves, from Charlie, says that because so many of their original team have been replaced, they don’t call themselves Charlie anymore. “We’re Team Chuck.” he says. I have a better name for your team, Greaves, and Moonbaby clean stole it from under me: Team Upchuck.
Crenshaw, a Charlie “veteran”, says that Charlie has a new attitude, brought about mainly by a change of leadership. Cade is the new team leader. Cade is young and has a positive spirit, but his haircut is awful and I’m surprised Col. Rudy hasn’t called him into the office about it. The new guy, Weber, is only 23 years old, so Charlie is no longer the Over-The-Hill Gang.
In Bravo, Jody Taylor, whose secret identity is “Whine Boy”, is trying hard to replace the Sergeant Major in voice over opportunities. He complains that he was injured in the Obstacle Course challenge, that his knee and quadriceps are hurting.
The first challenge is announced, a helicopter jump into water. There are numerous shots of Oz Crenshaw trying to drown himself in an earlier challenge. Even in the confessional, Oz is trembling about having to do the water exercise. Meanwhile, Bravo puts on their wet suits. These suits have molded abs, kind of like The Batman’s suit in the movies.
Four men jump from the helicopter, and two men swim out with inflatable rafts. Crenshaw makes it as others shout at him “Get that dog out of the pool!” in honor of his dog paddle technique. Col. Rudy states the obvious: “Crenshaw isn’t a good swimmer, but he did what he had to do for his team.” Thanks for the update, Colonel.
Charlie takes the lead. In a voiceover, Jody whines about getting yelled out while trying to get the paddles unstrapped. Justin Young of Charlie says to the camera “We got in sync and started stroking like madmen.” Justin, the cameraman did not ask you what you did in your bunk while thinking of Heather the Medic Babe. Meanwhile, Kain of Bravo says he is not going to worry about hurting someone’s feelings as he yells out orders to his men.
While Bravo is sorting out their feelings, Charlie is actually experiencing something new: They’ve won! Bravo has lost yet another challenge, and must start 75 points down. Could this be a new beginning for Charlie? Maybe, but they still show their intelligence level by taking showers with their clothes on. Scott Helvenston goes over to start some trouble by telling the Charlies that Bravo is really embarrassed to have lost to the Charlies.
The mission briefings are given and Charlie makes their plans with enthusiasm and focused determination. Greaves says “Losing means you’re down a man and that’s critical.” Not much gets by him, does it?
Shots of the snow flurries fill the screen. Col. Rudy stands out in it, either pretending to be macho or not smart enough to come in out of it. Out of the phone tent comes Whiner Boy! Jody whines for all he’s worth, saying “It’s cold in the morning, then it’s so hot you can’t take a nap, then rain and now snow.” And Whiner Boy is not through. He whines about the rucksacks being 100 pounds, then complains that Bravo always starts missions behind in points. After all that whining, I can see why Jody needs his nap time.
Charlie practices for the mission. Cade is confident of victory. Crenshaw, however, has mixed feelings. “I’ve been killed in action three times.” says Crenshaw. Oh, if only it were for real, Crenshaw. He continues “It’s a helpless feeling, lying there not able to help your teammates.” Crenshaw doesn’t want that to happen again.
Charlie starts the mission. They get to the top of the hill with 5:30 elapsed, get to the pilot (time not shown), take fire, pick up the pilot. The OPFOR tries to come behind them with 9:00 showing. Wong proves what a huge asset he is to the squad by getting two of his (at least) three OPFOR kills in this mission. At 12:10 elapsed, guess who gets “killed.” If you did not correctly guess Crenshaw, turn off your TVs as you are not sophisticated enough to watch this show. Oh… never mind, it would be showing sophistication NOT to be watching this show. Crenshaw lets us know he’s been killed by announcing it over the hum of his MILES gear. I guess in real combat they get to announce “I’m dead. Go on without me.”??? No, I didn’t think so.
The chopper crash and direction to the Alternate Extract Point (A.E.P.) come at 15:10 elapsed. Charlie drags the pilot to the new location, and at 18:07 they find that oh, so convenient disk for the A.E.P. They call for the chopper and are extracted. The mission took 22 minutes, with only one dead for Charlie, a miracle for them. Wong “confesses” that Crenshaw is disappointed about being killed again. Crenshaw says he’s disappointed as they are put in the paddy wagon for the escape-proof ride home to Camp Brainstorm.
Bravo preps. In a previous episode, I did not discuss “Jody’s World”. It is a corner of the tent that is Whiner Boy’s equivalent of the Fortress Of Solitude. Jody is whining about his rucksack again as others try to show him an easy way to put it on. Sgt. Maj. Voiceover, with great contempt and disrespect in his voiceover voice, tells in “confessional” how Jody has complained about the ruck from Day One. Jody whines some more about his injuries.
Bravo goes on the mission. The time is shown as they start. They get mortar fire for standing still, then start moving. Fletcher gets two OPFORs and calls them “unfriendlies”, prompting hapless Whiner Boy to ask what he’s talking about. The time is 5:10 as they get to the pilot. Byers asks him “Are you the pilot?” No, idiot, he’s an actor. The pilot is in the medic tent with a thoroughly abused rear end after being dragged by three squads.
As they call the helo in, the time is 9 minutes. The chopper crashes (wow, four crashes, this must be an expensive show!) and the time is shown of 12:15. Make note of that, as we will not see the time again until the mission results briefing.
And at this time, the miracle occurs.
If the time is right as shown on the TV screen, then this is the picture. Let me paint it for you: With 12:15 elapsed, Bravo must go 400 meters, over rough, hilly terrain, carrying an injured pilot, and fighting several OPFOR in a running battle along the way.
Jody is too far forward, trying to see the OPFOR, and the others have to call him back. They throw smoke to cover him. He FINALLY gets back and they start moving. They get snipers. Then they get more snipers. Then MORE snipers are shot. The time is still not shown. All six live and they call for extract, and everyone gets to take the rope ride under the chopper home.
As they talk about the possibility of losing, Wong, Crenshaw and Cade all state their willingness to go, Cade telling us that he will assume responsibility as the mission leader.
Jody, a former college wrestler, is injured and goes to the medic. The report is not favorable for his knee. Jody says “My heart is bigger than my brain…” (no doubt about that, Jody, considering the lack of brains you’ve shown so far) “… and I don’t know when to quit.” If Jody leaves for medical reason, however, someone can replace him from the “closed” Dossier Room. They decide to wait until the mission results.
The mission results are: Charlie 1075 points, minus 50 for one man killed, minus 110 for 22 minutes time. Total 915.
Bravo: 1000 points, minus 0 for nobody killed, minus 75 for fifteen minutes total. Total 925. Bravo wins by 10 points. Only 10 points.
FIFTEEN MINUTES?!?!?! WTF?!?!?!
At 12:15 they had 400 meters to go, dragging a guy, running a firefight and killing at least 4 or 5 bogeys on the way, and it only took TWO AND A HALF MINUTES?!?!?! It took Delta 32 minutes, Alpha 28 minutes, and Charlie 22 minutes, but it took Bravo only FIFTEEN minutes TOTAL!?!?!
Either this is the best combat force in world history, the worst film editing in MB’s history OR…. ah, here, wait a minute. Let’s look at the Official Timekeeper’s resume, shall we?
Official Timekeeper of the 1972 USA-USSR Olympic men’s basketball game. Hmmm…
Official Timekeeper of the 2001 Michigan-Michigan State football game. Well!
Official Timekeeper of the Boot Camp reality TV show. Ah, so desu! (A little Japanese lingo, there…)
Meanwhile, Col. Rudy tells Charlie with a smirk: “Okay, Charlie, you know the drill. You have ten minutes to pack your gear and report back here.” In their tent, Charlie is depressed. Crenshaw moans “We can’t get a break!” Hey Oz, this isn’t Oz, but what you can’t get is a fair shot or a win because MB doesn’t want you to.
Meanwhile, Taylor goes to Rudy’s office, where he is medically discharged for his injuries. In the Dossier Room, Bravo gets to do something they’ve never done before: pick a new man. Apparently they’ve been briefed, because when the camera focuses on one guy on the wall, they don’t even try to fight it: they choose him.
Jody says goodbye to everyone at the showers with Heather the Medic Babe watching. Jody opens the shower doors. Unlike Nutter last time, the circle hiding Dexter Fletcher’s nudity is a large circle. Heather likes what she sees, and Dexter is not trying to hide it from her. Jody even says “Dexter, you’re next job should be in porn.” Jody does NOT open Kain’s door because Bob might go find and kill Jody, or at least expose his secret identity as Whine Boy.
Wong says he will go and refuses to let Crenshaw leave. “Oz, Rudy is going to make you stay no matter how much you want off this show.” explains Wong. Crenshaw says he is hearbroken because Wong is his partner in real life, and the fact that Wong gets to go home and he (Crenshaw) doesn’t.
They line up for the dismissal, and Wong goes first. He gets into the backseat of the product placement Chevy Avalanche. Then Jody Taylor falls out of the Bravo formation and is medically discharged by Col. Rudy. “Limp on out the gate, Whiner Boy.” says Rudy. Whine Boy gets in one last whine by saying if he ever sees a rucksack again he's going to burn it and do a little Helvenston dance around it. As Jody gets in the Avalance and leaves, the new man comes in, and the camera fades into the night.
(Note: My apologies in advance for the lack of humor in this summary. Also, let me say this seriously: I have been an Army Officer, and I am presently a civilian contractor for the Army Reserve. I have seen Generals and Privates, Officers and Enlisted personnel, good soldiers and bad soldiers alike, but I have NEVER seen anything like the total lack of professionalism and embarrassing conduct that Scott Helvenston displayed in Ep. 7. If this weren’t a TV show with cameras constantly around, he would have been severely injured at the hands of the other players in a “blanket party”, or some other “accident” would have happened to him. As it is, he has truly embarrassed himself, the Navy SEALs, and everyone in the Armed Forces of the United States. It was really pathetic, and I hope O’Shea is right in that Helvenston has excommunicated himself from the SEAL community.)
Now THIS is a logo!:
*** Contradictions don't exist. If you are faced with a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. -- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged