Escape to the Legion
In a nutshell: Cheese eating surrender monkeys get sand in their knickers.
The 411: The military never loses its fascination for the viewing public even though every soldier you ever meet is deathly dull. This makes sense of course – it’s the system not the individual that counts.
A principle hammered home in Escape to the Legion where a band of muppets are dragged off to the Sahara to undergo a month of Foreign Legion training.
“Truly the French are the most creative of sadists. If only they applied the same care and attention to personal hygiene you could take them anywhere.”
Film-maker and explorer Bear Grylls is our hero – a background in the SAS stands him in good stead for the routine beasting and tests of physical endurance meted out daily. He takes it upon himself to be a mentor and cheerleader for the rest of the brigade which is quite cute if you think about it.
The recruits are hammered into shape by Sergeant Glenn Ferguson, an anti-social American dwarf with a bug up his crack the size of a boulder. “It’s mind over matter” he tells the troops during punishment “I don’t mind because you don’t matter”. He really does get ever so cross which is the last thing I’d expect from a drill sergeant. And the language – you wouldn’t hear it from a docker.
I know – you’ve seen Platoon and you know the score. But I’ll confess I’m a sucker for these types of programmes – SAS: Are You Tough Enough? was required viewing in Casa Aerial and I even acquired a habit for Ultimate Force, Ross Kemp’s critically panned SAS drama. Which I actually thought was quite good. I know what you’re thinking but I’ve tried getting out more. It doesn’t work.
Although he is allowed to film, Bear doesn’t get it easy from the Sergeant. As a result of committing a minor misdemeanour he and another recruit are taken to the desert, made to dig their own “graves” then buried up to their necks in sand and their heads used as goalposts while the other legionnaires play football around them.
Those little touches make all the difference. No casual cruelty this – they really put some thought and effort in. Truly the French are the most creative of sadists. If only they applied the same care and attention to personal hygiene you could take them anywhere.
The relentless bullying and physical hardship has a purpose. The Legion’s history as a honeypot for mercenaries, criminals, ne’er-do-wells and assorted losers means they have inevitably attracted loners, people out only for themselves . This is no good for a military fighting force. So if one recruit screws up, the entire group get punished. This binds them together in a group identity and that’s why the fate of one is the fate of them all.
“they wasted a month of their lives being chased up and down sand dunes by repressed homosexual French skinheads.”
And the punishments are the very definition of “cruel and unusual”. The notorious ‘march canard’ for example, where recruits are made to march in a squatting position while making a quacking sound.
This actually looked a lot of fun but I’m sure it wasn’t.
When the month is up, Bear says that the group have learned something about themselves. They certainly have – that they wasted a month of their lives being chased up and down sand dunes by repressed homosexual French skinheads. And as reward they receive the Legion’s kepi blanc (white peaked cap) as a souvenir. Great.
But what of honour? What of Esprit de corps? What of loyalty?
What of them?
Here’s what you learned, Bear. Put a group of men in a desert barracks together and they will inevitably end up burying two of you up to your necks in sand before using your heads as goalposts in a game of football.
Feel better now?
The best thing about it: The invention of the punishments.
The worst thing about it: A few too many Full Metal Jacket cliches
The verdict on Escape to the Legion: A critique of military life as acute as Status Quo‘s “You’re In The Army Now”.
Marks out of 10: 7.5
Glenn Ferguson is NOT a gay
Aerial Telly welcomes the dozens of e-mails you send every week – y’all are on some Mark Chapman stalker shit and God bless you for it. I was particularly pleased to receive the following missive from TV’s Sergeant Glenn Ferguson from Channel 4’s Escape to the Legion
What knid of remark was this “chased up and down sand dunes by repressed homosexual French skinheads”.
How would you know how a drill sergeant acts. Ever been in the Foreign Legion, US Army? No , didnt think so! And a dwarf arent they 3 feet tall? Sorry 5′ 3” and done more as a man than you ever have. Not unless your a woman. None of us were french. “French Foreign Legion” look it up.
Amd repressed homosexual, now who would that be? We are all hetro. And married and not at any time did anyone display anythink that would be percived that way.
Im married to a wonderful woman and we have seven children. I know that its cool to be gay in the UK and you show a lot of it on your TV programs. so it will be accepted by the general public. But just becase your percived as a hard ass doesnt mean that your a repressed homosexual! Which I not. Love women and always have.
Sgt Glenn W Ferguson
Thanks Glenn! I quickly sent the following response:
You’re a crazy guy, Glenn, and I like your style. I don’t really know about that foreign legion stuff you’re talking about – I never watch the programmes I review as I find it prejudices my opinion.
But no way is Britain more gay than America. You are ten times gayer than us. It’s a known fact that President Bush was taking pipe from Newt Gingrich for several years, Ronald Reagan was known as the blowjob queen of Whiteside County at high school and General Patton had more pricks than a pincushion.
I know what you’re thinking. “Nothing wrong with sucking a bit of cock” and you’re dead right. It’s a fine tradition and America leads the world in it. Not many people know that Americans actually invented gayness and it’s one of your most successful exports. I mean, if Condoleezza Rice has never drank from the furry cup then my name’s Fuckface MacTavish. And I’m fairly certain it isn’t.
I say: God bless America. The queerest nation on the planet.
Anyway, thanks for your comments. Would you like to do a link exchange?
I will report any response in due course.