Bomb Patrol: Launch of an Explosive Series


"BOMB PATROL AFGHANISTAN" Series Monday nights at 10 on G4.

Like the Academy Award-winning film "The Hurt Locker," "Bomb Patrol Afghanistan" focuses on a tight-knit group of Navy specialists as they track, defuse or detonate buried explosives in Taliban-infested territory.

The difference, of course: "This ain't Hollywood," one snarks.

Every moment in this gripping unscripted series is authentic.

The eight men of the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit include a cocky rookie, Petty Officer 3rd Class Chase Holzhauer, 23, on his first tour, and a grizzled veteran, Chief Petty Officer John Groat, 44, with five previous deployments under his belt.

Holzhauer joined the unit because, he says, "I thought it would be fun to play with explosives and blow stuff up."

The unit arrives in Afghanistan for a five-month tour to find Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), weapons buried in the soil and responsible for the majority of injuries to American soldiers.

Surveying their hostile surroundings, Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Thibeault, 35, says, "This place will either make you a man or make you want to go home. And hopefully, you're going home in a plane and not a box."

The men deal with the stress with a mix of bravado and sarcasm. "None of us know if we're coming back alive. If I get hurt or die, Mom, please don't be mad," Lt. Brad Penley, 26, tells the camera.

The team splits up, half heading out in a convoy on a treacherous road to search for an explosive reported by a local farmer, the others exploring the area around a large container.

There is one casualty -- a robot blown to junk by an IED. When a second robot is rendered useless, Holzhauer is forced to send out a smaller, mobile unit, piloting it with an Xbox 360 controller. Who says video-gaming is a waste of time?

While the reviewer rough-cut featured an anonymous announcer, G4 announced last week that actor Josh Duhamel ("Transformers") will be narrating the actual episodes.

One gripe: The premiere opens with a tense night-time encounter with the Taliban, a firefight that apparently leaves one man wounded and the team in jeopardy.

Who was injured? You won't find out tonight. The series jumps back in time several months. Presumably, we'll have to wait until the 10th and final episode of the season for answers.

The producers don't need to rely on any foreshadowing to amp up interest. The setting supplies enough tension.

"Bomb Patrol" is about as real as any TV show can get.

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