Listen up, maggots! It's time for Mail Call!
R. Lee Ermey (Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket) returns for another season of mayhem in the name of educating us poor civilian slobs about all things military from throughout history. In this fast-paced and entertaining question-and-answer series from The History Channel, Ermey takes questions about all sorts of military hardware and terminology, dishing out the answers with a heavy tongue-in-cheek dose of the drill sergeant personality that made him famous.
This season, Ermey tackles such thorny questions as which side had better rifles in the Civil War, the Greeks' formidable phalanx formation, and the fastest U.S. tank of World War II. The cooperation that Ermey is able to secure from official sources in impressive; for example, we get a good look at the Marine Corps's Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Training, probably the single greatest and most immersive video game ever created.
If there is a drawback to the show, it is that Ermey's trademark bluster can wear a bit thin at times. There are times when, in the interest of explaining matters in the simplest terms possible or building comedic rapport with the audience, Ermey gets to be a bit grating and even seems on the verge of insulting or patronizing the guests who have so graciously appeared on the show to provide demonstrations. These moments of discomfort are rare, however, and for the most part the show is an interesting and entertaining look at military hardware throughout the ages, with never a dull moment.
As was the case on the Season One release, video quality on this disc is a little spotty. Ermey and his crew travel to many different locations, as well as use stock footage from time to time, so the original film elements tend to vary in quality. Even the best footage, that of Ermey in controlled conditions sitting in front of a tent to answer the mail, shows a lot of digital flaws. However, the picture quality does seem to have improved over the Season One disc, so perhaps things at The History Channel's DVD department are moving in the right direction. The audio is presented in a nice but unremarkable Dolby 2.0 Stereo. Like all History Channel discs, there are no subtitles.
Special features include a bio/filmography of the illustrious "Gunny," as well as "Gunny's Deal of the Day," a humorous take on used car commercials featuring Ermey as a huckster extolling the virtues of his reliable World War II-vintage Jeep.
Mail Call: The Best of Season Two is a reasonably fun and educational way to spend a few hours. Is it worth a purchase? Probably only to hard-core fans of the show. A rental certainly wouldn't hurt, however, if this sort of thing is up your alley.
Semper Fi and carry on!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
• R. Lee Ermey Biography and Filmography
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