Seal of Approval


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 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.


Ps. A new ‘Special Forces’ (Green Berets) movie is due to hit cinemas soon starring Thor (Chris Hemsworth). It’s called 12 STRONG and you can read an early review of it       HERE  or see the trailer  HERE


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.


15 thoughts on “Seal of Approval

  1. Interesting blog post, Glen. I haven’t watched any of these. Just not into military shows. I found it interesting that you picked up on the actors starting many sentences with “So.” This trend started in the US a couple of years ago and it drives me crazy. Regular folks and educated people who should know better have fallen into this irritating habit. I take it, it hasn’t caught on in Australia. Thank you for signing up for my mailing list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Starting sentences with ‘So…’ is unfortunately most definitely a thing here in Australia as well. As you mentioned, it started a few years back and has spread like a virus into just about every level of society, including inflicting the conversations of people who should know better.

    Linguistically, I’ve always viewed it as a corporate-speak device used for cutting to the chase and getting to the point faster, usually when responding to some type of request for information. It’s just I suspect a great many people who use this speech mannerism regard it as some kind of mark of shiny modern professionalism, whereas to me people who reguarly begin their sentences with ‘So…’ just come across as very, very young, incapable of original thought and a little bit full of their own importance.

    I suspect within the next few years ‘So…’ will go the way of last year’s fidget spinner craze, or going back even further, shoulder pads in dresses from the 80’s, and pass into the history books as just another bygone trend, with folk looking back and saying “Remember when people used to talk like that?”


    • I’m almost tempted to watch the show to get a good example of a “So” dialogue. If it is anything as bad as the use of “like”, then I do hope it does go the way of the Dodo, and hope too the “like” filler goes the same way, if it hasn’t already.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your decision for the taglines. 😀 … I went through a ‘military phase, both books and films, it didn’t last long, for the reasons you mention, way too formulaic. Now if I get into either it’s more likely to be of the ‘military SF’ style.


  4. After reading the comments I am now going to be self conscious as to whether I’m starting my sentences with ‘so’ or using ‘like’ . Fortunately I am sure that I don’t have any outfits with shoulder pads anymore and can be confident in that area.
    My red faced admission is watching ‘Married at First Sight’ with my 12 year old daughter. If cringing and laughter is what one looks for this is the show to watch. Oh and watching ‘The Good Is Wife’ whilst ironing is another pastime. Sorry the military storyline is not for me. 😬 Thanks for your tireless output Mr Scenic Writer’s Shack and am relieved that for this post their are no vampires!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You want admissions Michelle?
    I’ll give you admissions.
    I’ve just come now from watching (it’s still playing as I’m typing this) the Sunday afternoon ‘Encore’ showing of MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT and those bushy-tailed twenty-somethings on that show are flogging the ‘So…” sentence starters for all they’re worth!

    Being referred to as “MR SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK” has a certain distinguished air to it which I could definitely grow accustomed to Michelle so thank you for coining that moniker of respect for me.

    As to this blog being a vampire-free terror-tory, with Wesley Snipes from back in the day on my side, that is 100% guaranteed!
    (Language warning at the six second mark of this clip)


  6. Pingback: This is your Captain Speaking | Scenic Writer's Shack

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