17 June 2009

On a Lighter Note- Television!

A while back I watched a series of shows called "Deadliest Warrior." The premise behind the show was simple: They took two types of warriors who would never have met on the field of battle, and try and figure out who would have won had they actually met. Among the episodes were Apache vs. Gladiator, Spartan vs. Ninja, Knight vs Pirate, Viking vs Samurai. The show was basically aimed at men who, when they were boys, would debate hot issues like: Would Wolverine's claws pierce Captain America's shield? What would happen if the Juggernaut (who was an irresistible force) would square off against the Blob (who was an immovable object)? and who never really grew beyond that phase. I know, that sort of thing is immature and silly, but compare to what many of my fellow teenagers were doing back then (drugs, crime, sex) debating comic books seems positively wholesome. So, in short, this show was aimed at men like me.

In general I enjoyed the show, with a few minor quibbles, and one honking big one. The quibbles are about two things: the emphasis of testing weapons, and the staged battles at the end, wherein they show how the deadliest warrior would have defeated/killed his opponent.

First with the emphasis on the testing of weapons. This makes it seem as though weapons alone will decide a battle. This is often but not always true. If, for example, these men were to test the fighters planes of the air war over Korea, they would quickly come to the conclusion that Migs would have destroyed the F-87 Sabres post haste. What actually happened was the Sabres shot down the Migs at a rate of ten to one. The difference was the pilots. America had a large base of experienced combat fighter pilots from the Second World War, and the North Koreans did not. That experience gave the Americans the edge.

This lesson was driven home when a defector flew a Mig over to South Korea. The Americans began testing the Mig and set up mock combat between their top test pilot- Chuck Yeager- and another. When Yeager flew the F-87, he 'shot down' the Mig. When Yeager flew the Mig, he shot down the Sabre. Yeager summed it up like this: "The better pilot will whip your a$$ every time."

Another problem I have with all the weapons tests are the use of gel torsos to show what damage each weapon does to the human body. It is one thing to know that a morning star can crush a skull. It is another thing to see it done in front of you. And the reactions of those doing the testing is disturbing to me. They see the destruction, and they laugh. "Whoa, look at that!" "Where did his brain go?" "Check your shoes!" The thought that these weapons were used on actual people, and this is what men did to other men, with all their fierce might, chills me, and it further chills me that these men think the appropriate reaction is laughter.

My niggling problem is with the final combats. I usually agree with their conclusions as far as who will win, but the way they show it happening is wrong. For example, in Knight vs pirate I thought the pirate would win. Pirates carried the weapons- guns and grenades and such- that drove the knight from the field. The knight would be bringing a knife to a gun fight, literally. if the two ever met, the most likely outcome would be the pirate getting a shot off from a concealed position that pierces the knight's armour, and that would be that. Except that would be bad and boring television. So in this battle the knight and the pirate fought it out, often toe to toe, to make it more interesting. And how interesting it was. The pirate kept on pulling one gun out after another, and none of them misfired, which was common for the period, until he finally got a killing shot. Before he got that shot, however, he took a crossbow bolt to the thigh and two hits from a morningstar, and yet he continued fighting as though unhurt. I could only say: "I thought this was Knight vs. Pirate, not Knight vs. Pirate from Planet Krypton."

Another problem cropped up in the Viking vs. Samurai final battle. There was a moment when the Samurai began beating on the Viking's shield with some giant cudgel. The cudgel was heavy and took a big windup and follow through for each stroke, during which time he was completely open for a stroke, a slash, a something, except the Viking did not have a sword in his hand. He just held his shield and waited for the next blow. Did none of these people know basic sword and shield technique? Are they telling me a Viking wouldn't even think of kicking the Samurai in the groin? After a few minutes of this, the Samurai drops the cudgel and draws his sword. In response, the Viking drops his shield and draws his sword. The outcome of that little fight is not in much doubt. Now, don't get me wrong, I thought the Samurai would win before they staged the little fight at the end, but after seeing how they staged it I had the impression that in a battle between the world's most incompetent samurai and the world's dumbest viking, the samurai would win. Which proves what, exactly?

But all of these are minor quibbles. My real problem with the show was its final episode for the season. That episode was entitled IRA vs Taliban. That's right. They ended with terrorists.

The series was called "Deadliest Warriors." People who plant bombs in crowded market places and run are not warriors. People who kill without showing their faces on the field of battle are not warriors. People who target the unarmed and defenceless are not warriors. That the makers of this show would pull out these two as the season finale shows how far down we have gone. These are not deadliest warriors. They are deadliest cowards. To call them warriors is a disgrace.

At any rate, the show has me thinking. What with CGI and all that, we could really do something with this sort of thing. What I would like to see is a battle between two of the largest weapons ever built, the height of development of their class, but which never met on in battle. I'm talking battleships, the largest ever built. Iowa class versus Yamata class: which is deadlier? Anyone want to research and CGI that showdown, I would be so there.

Yeah, I know. I'm still the kid who would debate comic books in his youth. It's as the saying goes: You're only young once, but you can be immature all the days of your life.

And if someone actually does make an Iowa vs Yamata show, anyone got a widescreen tv? I'll bring popcorn....

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