Surviving the Cut -- TV Review

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Life ain't easy, and for those who always have wondered just how tough it can be, "Surviving the Cut" is now available on Discovery.

The premise: follow members of Special Forces training groups -- from bomb squads to snipers to the Army Ranger School -- to see which of the wide-eyed rookies are up to the task.
"Ranger school is not for everybody," says one instructor, taking a break from shouting into the recruits' faces. "You have to decide if it's for you." That's easy: It definitely is not for me.

Set against a grinding heavy-metal soundtrack, candidates are put through the wringer, deprived of sleep and food and on the move nearly 24 hours a day. They'll jump into frigid water, slog through mud and then go on a 15-mile march with 60 pounds on their back and a 23-pound rifle in their hands. "War is hell, and so is ranger school," the narrator intones. Amen, brother. Only one-third of the recruits will make it through the 61-day course.

"Cut" is a gripping hourlong look into the military training and weeding-out process. But it also is simplistic and surfacy. The first few days of training are shown with great detail; suddenly, the next 20 pass in a montage. Individual candidates are rarely focused on, and that impersonal tone makes this feel like a recruitment video at times -- though clearly not a soft-sell one.

Additions that might have added dimension include an expert in the psychology of pushing through exhaustion and a little background on why it's an all-male force. Women are disallowed from being rangers, support roles aside.

That said, "Cut" should be must-see for every American for one reason alone: It's impossible not to watch and feel an additional respect for our Armed Forces and grateful that these individuals are responsible for our security. When I'm in charge, a modified ranger school will be a requirement for every member of Congress.

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18 (Discovery)
Production: 2 Roosters Media
Narrator: William Sadler
Executive producers: Bobby Williams, Al Edgington
Writers: Lynn Dougherty, Bobby Williams
Co-executive producer: Glenn Stickley
Producer: Robert Parr
Director: Bobby Williams
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