The G4 cable channel has announced it plans to air 10 one-hour episodes of a new documentary titled “Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan,” a reality show inspired by the Academy Award-winning movie “The Hurt Locker.” The show’s producers secured a special agreement with the U.S. Navy to follow around an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit on duty.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that “the serious tone and life-and-death stakes is new for the network best known for such lighter fare,” such as shows called “Cheater,” “Ninja Warrior,” and “The International Sexy Ladies Show.” G4 president Neal Tiles touts the show as an opportunity to “showcase the work of the courageous men and women on the front lines” and as a way to appeal to their “young male demo.”
Military.com reports that, “While the Navy certainly green-lighted the show based on its potential to highlight the courage and skills of dedicated Sailors, it’s not likely everyone is going to see it that way.” Because camera crews will be following Navy explosive ordinance teams through Afghanistan, there is indeed a potential that casualties will be captured on video. In fact, a statement from G4 appears to gleefully tout such a possibility:
While one day’s patrol could result in the successful disarmament of a 50-pound roadside bomb via remote-controlled robot, another could put an EOD tech wearing a 70-pound protective bomb suit in direct contact with a potentially deadly IED.
A G4 spokeswoman told Military.com that she did not know how the company would handle situations involving casualties. Last night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow blasted the concept of the show. “Maybe the thinking is,” Maddow commented, “if you can’t keep the American people supporting the nine-year war in Afghanistan, at least if you let in the right camera crews, then killing American soldiers over there can make for some good home-front entertainment.”
Maddow’s guest, NYT columnist Frank Rich, recalled that this has happened before. In 2003, just as the U.S. was preparing to go to war in Iraq, ABC announced that it would air a television series titled “Profiles from the Front Line.” Producer Jerry Bruckheimer coordinated with the Rumsfeld-led Pentagon to document the lives of soldiers serving in Afghanistan. While the war was far more popular then, “the show still bombed,” Rich said. Watch Maddow’s segment: