“Hoorah! Semper Fi! Do or die! Hold ’em high! Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey here. Listen up! Ever wonder how warriors on the battlefield went from throwing rocks to this? Then this is your lucky day.”
You’ve seen R. Lee Ermey in several movies and television shows over the years. He pretty much plays the same character, most notably Gunnery Sergeant Hartman on Full Metal Jacket. He always does a fine job with these roles, but there’s a good reason for that. Ermey was, in fact, a Gunnery Sergeant in the Vietnam War. Not much acting required out of the man. His authenticity has been what’s made him such a dependable stalwart in these military films. You’ve got to give the guy some props. He is the real deal, and it has always shown in his roles.
It was a natural extension to have Emery host this new series from the History Channel. Lock ‘N’ Load is a combination Mythbusters and Marine training video. Each episode focuses on a particular style of weapon. Emery gives us a bit of a history lesson, describing the early designs and models. With a variety of graphic animations and Ermey’s hands-on with the genuine article, we get a rather comprehensive look at the evolution of each of these weapons. Ermey’s passion is almost over the top. He comes across like he’s had about 16 pots of coffee. Manic is putting it mildly. Emery has a true love for these weapons and is having the time of his life telling you about it. But it’s not talking about these devices that he has the most energy for. Ermey likes to “throw some lead down field”. He’s most certainly at his best when he gets a chance to fire these weapons for himself. Here’s where the Mythbusters bit comes in. Ermey isn’t content with just firing and demonstrating the operation of these weapons. He wants to blow stuff up. His favorite targets appear to be watermelons. Forget Gallagher. He makes fruit salad out of those bad boys, often picking up a shred of the fruit and savoring the taste of his “victory”.
True to his drill sergeant persona, Ermey provides tons of Hoorahs and tons of insults directed at the “couch potato” audience. His wit is pretty much one note, and I have to admit that watching several of these episodes in short order caused me to overdose on the bit somewhat. This is most certainly a personality-driven series as much as it is a documentary on the various weapons profiled.
The best part of the series is the wonderful high-speed photography. This allows the action to be slowed down considerably, revealing clear images of the end results for many of these weapons. You’ll see projectiles leaving the barrels of their guns with incredible clarity. The same goes for the other end when stuff has a habit of blowin’ up. You will be treated to details that I didn’t even think were possible. The timelines are quite interesting, but if you’re like most guys, you love to see stuff go boom. This is your show.
There are four discs with the complete first season of 13 episodes covering such weapons as: field artillery, machine guns, tanks, pistols, helicopters, armored vehicles, shotguns, rockets, blades, ammo, and bunker busters.
Each episode is presented in a somewhat disappointing non-anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It’s rare to find this kind of image presentation these days. I’m not really sure why the discs are released this way. Still, colors are pretty good. Detail is where it’s at here. That high-speed photography I was telling you about reveals some cool stuff, and the release is serviceable in image quality. Black levels are a little better than fair, but most of this stuff happens out in the bright sunshine. It’s very documentary style, so don’t expect incredible camera work here. That also means you should expect some serious inconsistency in the image quality. Most of the discs have only 3 episodes, so the bit rate is pretty solid.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation. There are some explosive sounds here, but they don’t really get as dynamic as all that in the sound department.
This show will meet any testosterone crowd looking for some high-explosive entertainment. And if you’re not extremely careful, you’ll learn a thing or two in the process. “OK, kiddies, it’s time for your next lesson.”