One Man Army (2011 TV series) review…

One Man Army (2011 TV series) review after the break…

One Man Army (2011 TV series) review…

There’s an old saying that everyone’s a hero until the opposition fights back. The armed forces isn’t perfect; It has managerial jerks just like the civilian sector, has idiot co-workers just like the civilian sector, makes strategic blunders and tactical mistakes just like the civilian sector… Simply because the armed forces wear uniforms, carry firearms and actually fires them off on occasion doesn’t make them any more special then any other branch of our civilization. However, considering that these individuals do defend the public from collective harm and that, in doing so, they put themselves at considerable risk, they deserve our respect and appreciation. Hey, do you really want Grandma hauling around a .50 caliber machine gun or do you want the professionals to do that, instead?

The current strain of game show poison (it calls itself “reality TV” but, really, they’re game shows) infected our airwaves has become so widespread that a few of those programs, over the years, have devoted themselves towards the armed services. From everyday citizens seeing if they had what it took to survive boot camp to retired military personnel playing simulated soldier on simulated special forces teams, these game shows are niche productions that have barely survived more then one season.

“One Man Army” is the latest game show to enlist retired military and para-military personnel in a series of challenges to see who can out-macho all the other mucho-macho men. While the guest list isn’t entirely restricted to the military (police and even “MMA fighters” are apparently allowed), it’s very apparent from the few episodes I’ve seen that proficiency with a firearm is a pre-requisite for not entirely embarrassing yourself before the first commercial break.

Mychal Hawk (I hope I spelled that right) is the host of the show – If you don’t know who he is, imagine a more macho version of Rod Serling trying to emulate how Christian Bale sounds while portraying the character “Batman.” I’m sure he must be a great guy in real life but one can’t help but smirk the first few times upon hearing his delivery, like, “This man really understands – He’s focused and never lowers his weapon after hitting the target. That takes years of dedication and skill to master.” I have no doubt he could recite a menu from McDonald’s and make it sound like a movie trailer for the latest Tom Clancy novel.

The episode has a formulaic layout – Four contestants compete separately in the first contest which is labelled “Speed challenge.” The slowest contestant leaves dramatically by way of an “extraction van.” The remaining three contestants then compete all at once in a contest called “Strength challenge.” The slowest contestant is similarly eliminated. Finally, the remaining two contestants compete head-to-head in the finale, called the “Intelligence challenge.” All of the challenges begin with the phrase, “Go hot.”

The series is typical game show fluff and besides any ancillary factoids one might learn about the armed services through the momentary biographies of the contestants, the series is clearly escapism in one half-hour. For instance, one challenge involved a contestant riding around inside a vehicle and shooting at targets. That challenge was fine enough but how often has that occurred in real military practice? How quickly could a current, in-service elite force soldier perform that task? If the series persists upon having a military slant to it, at least attempt to educate the viewer as to why these challenges are appropriate for a military-themed game show. What’s the history behind the firearm used in that challenge? What’s so great about that small grenade launcher?

Part of the problem with this series (and game shows in general, not just this one) is you never get a feeling for how difficult a challenge actually is. Why not have an ordinary citizen attempt these challenges or empirically show how tough it is to break down a door so that the viewer can appreciate how difficult these challenges truly are? Without any sort of metric to deal with, there simply isn’t an adequate amount of appreciation for the challenges performed.

Like a lot of game shows, the entertainment is in watching people fumble around obstacles. However, unlike a “Wheel of Fortune” where you can’t understand why someone can’t figure out that the answer is “National Football League,” the challenges here aren’t as accessible. Even in more physical game shows like in “Survivor,” the contests are at least physically feasible (who hasn’t paddled a canoe? Who can’t comprehend standing on a pole without sitting?). Yet in “One Man Army,” the level of challenge begins to swing towards “World Strongest Man” competition craziness and fewer people can “relate” to the challenge. My advice to the show – Show people how tough the challenges are, educate them on the gear and gizmos used. As it stands, it’s just typical game show fluff wearing military camouflage gear.

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