Written by: Susan Michaels
Directed by: Rob Beemer & Rob Lihani
Hosted by: R. Lee Ermey
- Seven episodes from the first season
- Ermey biography
Released by: History Channel
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent it; fans should wait for the complete first season
When Mail Call debuted on The History Channel not that long ago, it seemed like the biggest no-brainer in the history of informative shows. Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee. Ermey is famous for…well, acting like himself and terrorizing the masses. It has been so ever since Full Metal Jacket. And despite him trying to put a more motivational face on his tirades, let’s face it: he’s fun because he scares the crap out of you. Putting Ermey and the history of warfare into a single show–that’s the idea that seems so patently obvious once you’ve seen the commercial. “Oh, of course. R. Lee Ermey shows me how bazookas work. And…I’m a maggot. Yes.”
[ad#longpost]Now, as cool as Ermey’s schtick is, it would get old in a hurry if it was just him shouting and carrying on for a half-hour show while blowing stuff up. No, instead, you get a show that’s not only endlessly entertaining but educational as well. And it’s also respectful of the armed forces–not that anything with Ermey, who’s as much a Marine as the day is long, would be otherwise. Here you get such tasty bits of info as the story behind why there’s twenty-one guns in a twenty-one gun salute, how in the hell World War I flying aces didn’t blow their propellors off when they fired their machine guns (answer: in the beginning, they did) and where shrapnel gets its name. All of this delivered in Ermey’s unmatched style.
The DVD’s setup is actually pretty choice: when you click on an episode you’re taken straight to the scene selection menu, so you can watch sections or play the whole program. Bonus features are scant, with a text bio on Ermey as well as two television promos. That’s about all you could ask for, since outtakes (usually profanity-bleep ridden) appear already in the show’s closing credits. Those are quite entertaining in their own right.
Really, the only thing this release is missing is…well, the rest of the episodes. Fans of the show will want to rent this if they don’t get enough fun from the History Channel doing reruns, but they should hold out buying until the full enchilada becomes available.