Army takes “Mandatory Fun” one step further with game show nobody wants

Actor Bruce Campbell hosts the Quest for the Best pilot on Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Photo Credit: Mr. Tim Hipps

 In yet another attempt to spend funds on niche programs that better served a long past era, the United States Army and MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) service have yet again sprung another doozie.

Quest For The Best is being touted by the US Army as “a game show like no other”, demanding the participation of not only pre-selected contestants, but the audience as well.

 Shot with grainy cameras, terrible audio quality and a cheesy stage reminiscent of the mall-based game show in the 1995 film Mallrats, the game show is said to “engage the entire audience with hand held devices; every participant is competing for prizes and a spot in the on-stage finale”.

 After analyzing the video, I couldn’t help but notice a few things. The audience is mostly in uniform and comprised of what appear to be new recruits, complete with a bare velcro patch where a deployment patch should be, also known as a “slick sleeve”. Now, we’ve been at war for well over a decade. Odds are, you’ve been shipped out by now at least once. There is only one explanation for that many slick sleeves in a room – and after a little digging, my assumptions were confirmed. The article put out by the army confirmed that “The Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation pilot program debuted last year with 569 contestants, mostly medical education and training students, in Fort Sam Houston Theatre on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, home of Army Entertainment.”

“The feedback was great,” Army Entertainment special events coordinator Scott Radosevich said in an interview with Army PAO. “It was fun watching those young Soldiers because when I talked to them outside as their buses were pulling up, they were like ‘Ah, this is forced fun.’ But after they got in and they got in the game, they were going crazy. It was a full house and everybody had a great time.”

 Forced fun. Ah, yes, Army mandatory fun time. Much like single soldiers being required to attend FRG meetings, Command-suggested “fun days” and Presidential Speeches, this was an event where trainees and students were shuffled on the bus to attend a poorly thought out game show, with promises of a break from the already dismal environment of the Training world. Back in infantry OSUT, even those of us who were non-believers would go to chapel if it meant getting out of scrubbing the barracks. It was tons of fun, only because it was a two-hour break from our arch-nemeses, the floor buffer (that had a tendency to go rogue) and the Drill Instructors.

 Another aspect of the show is that it is, well, a game show. You know, the shows elderly people and folks stuck in dental waiting rooms stare blankly at to pass the time until their inevitable doom. Game shows are a little dated, let alone game shows that will only air on AFN-esque networks, seen (and mocked) only by single soldiers stuck in the chow hall during a downpour.

 Sure, Bruce Campbell is the host, but like much of his filmography, the show seems to be an example of valuable resources being wasted on stupid projects that will reach a tiny and passive audience who occasionally likes to watch something for the sake of irony.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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