Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
NBC’s ‘The Brave’ Is Fun, But It’s Not A Military Drama
After a young American doctor is kidnapped by Islamic extremists near the Syrian capital of Damascus, a crack team of special operators and clandestine agents, backed up by an army of intelligence experts in the States, is tasked with a rescue. So begins a daring mission involving the liberal application of close-quarters combat, gunplay, ad hoc disguises, and well-timed semtex explosives.
This is the basis for the first episode of NBC’s primetime special operations-centered drama The Brave, which premieres 10 p.m EDT on Sept. 25. While The Brave is billed as a military drama, it comes across more as a uniform-clad CSI, The Blacklist or Taken than a show grounded in the realities of military life.
The Brave pans between the team of service members and agents on the ground, commanded by Capt. Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel), and a stateside group of Defense Intelligence Agency analysts, led by Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche). The interplay between the door-kickers downrange and their intelligence handlers in Washington is fairly fresh, but the show still clings to some pretty common cliches in recent military dramas.
Mike Vogel as Capt. Adam Dalton -in NBC's "The Brave."NBC photo by Simon Mein
Specifically, The Brave, like CBS’ SEAL Team, and History’s Six, focuses on a small community within the already-tiny portion of American society that makes up the military: special operations forces. Between these three shows, you might not realize that Special Operations Command makes up just 2% of the Pentagon’s manpower. If you’re looking for a taste of military life that’s representative of the 1.3 million post-9/11 service members' experiences, you probably won’t find it there.
Don’t get me wrong: The show is fun. It has shootouts, banter, secret-squirrel stuff, and a few allusions to juicy backstories, but it’s not a military drama. At least, it doesn’t feel like one. It’s more like a primetime spy or crime show, chambered in 5.56 and 7.62 mm.
The greatest levels of realism in The Brave may have taken place off-screen. When the actors and film crew arrived in Morocco to film the pilot, they found their weapons and equipment held up by customs, former Navy SEAL Mikal Vega, a military technical advisor on the show told Task & Purpose.
To prevent the pre-filming training from falling behind schedule, Vega made do by fashioning wooden weapons and having the actors maneuver and patrol with the props. If you’ve wandered around Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, you’ve undoubtedly seen a squad or two of Marines walking down the road with “knife hands at the ready,” so in that sense, The Brave gets top marks for making its actors train like real troops.
Demetrius Grosse, Mike Vogel, Noah Mills of "The Brave" cast visits Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and meets with members of the Air Force Pararescue Training Squadron.NBC photo by Adria Malcolm
Beyond the prop-heavy initial patrol, Vega also ran the actors through tactical drills, with real weapons this time, before graduating to live-fire training. “We started exposing them to threat awareness and situational awareness, and responsibility to your other teammates, and why you do what you do,” he said. “Why you’re covering a corner this way; why you don’t look away from a threat.”
That training shows, not just in the smoothly executed takedowns of AK-rocking bad guys, but in the mundane details: Nobody’s flagging anyone, the characters cover the areas they’re assigned, and they move down hallways or clear rooms with confidence — even if the show is sometimes more clandestine than combat-heavy.
The Brave differs from its SOF-centric TV show competition in one significant way — there’s not a lot of moral ambiguity. CBS’ SEAL TEAM, which comes out Sept. 27, and History’s SIX, which is moving on to its second season, both make an effort to stay rooted in a moral grey zone, especially when it comes to war and combat, where what you’re usually left with are a number of increasingly bad options.
Not so in The Brave. The bad guys are bad and the good guys are good. That’s about as deep as the moral conflict goes.
That simple theme permeates the first episode, when Dalton and his team set out to rescue that kidnapped American doctor. Fearing that the hostage will be killed and the murder aired as a propaganda tool, the team tracks its quarry to a hospital and finds out there’s more to her capture than first appeared. They’re given a new mission: Leave the doctor behind, and kill a notorious terrorist leader instead. We won’t ruin any more details for you, but your wonderful operators make the “right” choice and manage to get out with their ethical compasses still pointing to true North.
While The Brave gets points for being entertaining, it misfires when it comes to capturing the complexity and ambiguity of post-9/11 wartime military service, but maybe as the show picks up that’ll change. Either that, or the characters can just swap uniforms for lab coats and it can be rebranded as CSI: Baghdad.
The Brave premieres Sept. 21 on NBC at 10 p.m. EDT.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As many as 380 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan – which has nearly 300 passengers who have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, now known as COVID-19 – will be extracted Sunday from Yokohama and flown to Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield and a Texas base for further quarantine.
The Army wants more soldiers, and it's using esports to put a 'finger on the pulse' of potential recruits
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
After whiffing on its recruiting goal in 2018, the Army has been trying new approaches to bring in the soldiers it needs to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of the 2020s.
The 6,500-soldier shortfall the service reported in September 2018 was its first recruiting miss since 2005 and came despite it putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues or bad conduct.
Within a few months of that disappointment, the Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team that would, it said, "build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use [its] gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth."
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico Army National Guard soldier from Mountainair, who served as a police officer and volunteer firefighter in the town, died Thursday from a non-combat related incident while deployed in Africa, according to the Department of Defense.
A news release states Pfc. Walter Lewark, 26, died at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti where he was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is requesting about as much money for overseas operations in the coming fiscal year as in this one, but there is at least one noteworthy new twist: the first-ever Space Force request for war funds.
Officials say the $77 million request is needed by Oct. 1 not for space warfare but to enable military personnel to keep operating and protecting key satellites.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track protesters in its latest indictment against the Chinese company, escalating the U.S. battle with the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker.
In the indictment, which supersedes one unsealed last year in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Huawei Technologies Co was charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies and to violate a racketeering law typically used to combat organized crime.