Last Sunday night a new show debuted on free to air Channel 10.
Don’t think I’ve watched anything on Ten since the time Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia.
The show is called SEAL TEAM and stars David Boreanaz, the guy who played FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth in BONES for a number of seasons. Naturally it features a lot of overconfident warrior types strutting around in Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniforms, (DPCU‘s in military parlance) flashing pearly white teeth and acting all snarky while going on ‘ops’. There’s lots of chest-puffing lines like “Let’s do this!” and “I got this!” and I noted a number of characters begin their sentences with “So..” cause apparently that’s considered a cool thing to do. The debut episode (the series aired beginning in September last year in the U.S.) adopts a framework of balancing on-the-ground military actions periodically intercut with whatever’s happening with the wife and kids back home related to the soldier’s private lives.
Television critics in the States have labelled SEAL TEAM a bland and forgettable military procedural. The first episode held my interest but Channel 10 would want to stick to the advertised time slot this Sunday night instead of allowing I”M A CELEBRITY – GET ME OUT OF HERE! to go 30 minutes overtime and by proxy forcing viewers to endure the last half of that program while waiting. Pain of that severity is not something even a special forces soldier should have to endure.
It was around this same period last year I was talking on these pages (HERE and HERE ) about a reality TV series on SBS that put a group of civilians through six weeks of torturous Special Forces training.
Fair to say I’ve read a few books as well in my time on Special Forces soldiery, probably up around more than a dozen over the years including these recognized silver bullets of the genre –
The most recent addition to this repository of ‘Above Top Secret’ literature laying bare previously highly classified military methods and missions is a book released last year titled THE OPERATOR. This is the third account I’ve read written by Special Forces soldiers present on the ‘capture or kill’ mission targeted at terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden back in 2011. What gives this latest book its mark of distinction is that it is penned by the soldier, Robert O’Neil http://www.robertjoneill.com/ who actually put the three bullets into the head of the notorious Al-Qaeda (remember them?) leader.
Being somewhat of a ‘veteran’ when it comes to these type of reads, I can report these kind of books all follow a similar pattern –
- Opening chapters detail the soldier’s childhood
- Next comes reliving the agony of passing the tougher-than-nails Special Forces selection training
- The middle section gives readers grandstand seats to a number of lesser known covert missions the soldier has been a part of
- The best is saved to last when the operation the soldier is most famously connected with is recounted in all its glory
THE OPERATOR follows this blueprint to a T. It’s middle pages include recall of two other famous sorties O’Neill was a part of – (A) the 2005 mission to Afghanistan to rescue ‘Lone Survivor’ Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell and (B) the 2009 mission in the Indian ocean to rescue Captain Phillips and his crew aboard a container ship hijacked by Somalia pirates. The account of the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden occupies less than 40 pages of the 360 page text.
Included in that 40 pages is the following ‘money shot’ paragraph regarding the circumstances of Bin Laden’s death –
“I turned to the right and looked through a door into an adjoining room. Osama Bin Laden stood near the entrance at the foot of the bed, taller and thinner than I’d expected, his beard shorter and hair whiter. But it was the guy whose face I’d seen ten thousand, a hundred thousand times. He had a woman in front of him, his hands on her shoulders. In less than a second, I aimed above the woman’s right shoulder and pulled the trigger twice. Bin Laden‘s head split open, and he dropped. I put another bullet in his head. Insurance.”
O’Neil candidly recalls the personal backlash he suffered in the days and weeks after the mission when the Seal Team became known worldwide in the wake of the historic success of the mission. Much to his disapproval he was singled out for extra glory as the trigger man and felt jealousy and disdain from his teammates as a result.
As I’ve well and truly donned the cammo paint for this post I may as well mention the fact that of the two movies based on OPERATION NEPTUNE SPEAR (The U.S. Navy Seal mission to capture or kill Bin Laden) I’ve seen – the big budget, Oscar-nominated, Kathryn Bigelow directed ZERO DARK THIRTY (17 U.S newspaper critics rated this film their # 1 movie of that year) and the no name, made-for-television (though I own a DVD copy of it) SEAL TEAM SIX, I would rate the no name, made-for-television SEAL TEAM SIX as by far the better film, and at a modest estimate ten times more engaging.
PSS. SEAL TEAM airs on Channel 10 again this Sunday night.
PSSS. Thankyou to everyone who responded with suggestions last week as to what this blog’s 2018 slogan ought to be. Indecision has seized me like an arthritic joint in the dead of winter with the result being readers will be greeted with a series of ever-changing ‘taglines’ below the words SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK throughout the year, beginning today.