Another sensational series from The History Channel, Shootout! utilizes high-tech 3D computer graphics, along with archival and recreated live-action footage, interviews, maps, graphs and high-resolution satellite photography to give the viewer an absolutely stunning recreation of some of history's deadliest shootouts. Covering confrontations from Old West gunfights to the very latest skirmishes in Iraq, The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 is an exciting, informative series that doesn't just rely on pyrotechnics to entertain the viewer; Shootout! also highlights the heroism and courage of our military heroes, past and present.
When I first heard about Shootout! back in 2005, I wasn't quite sure how The History Channel was going to make a continuing series out of that premise. Chronicling infamous shootouts throughout history seemed far too limited a concept to sustain a multi-episode series. But the producers of Shootout! keep the series fresh by first utilizing first-rate production values, and second by making sure the focus of the series is as much on the human element as it is on the firepower involved in each conflagration. It's apparent that there's a good-sized budget (or if not, it's used very effectively) for Shootout!, with a big-screen feel to many of the episodes' battle scenes. As well, the quality of the 3D CGI effects are top-notch, as you've come to expect from The History Channel. There's no getting around the fact that military buffs love charts, maps, battle and location simulations, and simulated heavy firepower, and The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 doesn't skimp on those necessities.
But far more importantly, The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 keeps an equal emphasis on the men and women involved in these shootouts, and their personal heroism and courage that often times turned the tide of a particular battle. For those viewers who may think The History Channel still only concentrates on WWII, you may be surprised to find that in The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 boxed set, in addition to standard subjects like WWII and Vietnam, Shootout! also looks at modern urban warfare (with an amazing episode on the North Hollywood shootout), a trip back to the Old West, and quite a few episodes devoted to the current war on terrorism in Iraq. The opening episode of the box set, D-Day: Fallujah is an absolutely riveting, harrowing account of our Marine assault on the Islamo-fascist stronghold, with recreated combat footage as good as anything you saw in Black Hawk Down. With the history of the liberation of Iraq being rewritten almost daily by the mainstream media, it's vital to listen to the first-hand accounts of the boots on the field, the heroic U.S. servicemen who have a far different take on this conflict.
Here are the 22, one hour episodes of the six-disc box set, The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2, as described on their slipcase back covers:
Peer across the front line into the viper pit that is Fallujah. As one of the key cities for the Iraqi insurgency in 2004, Al Qaeda terrorists and Islamic radicals from across the Muslim world congregated in Fallujah to resist U.S. occupation.
Veterans relive the man-to-man combat on this small island where U.S. amphibious troops and Japanese forces clashed in the South Pacific in a battle that became a turning point of the war.
Duels at high-noon on deserted, dusty streets are pure myth. Real shootouts were up-close, messy, drunken affairs sparked by scuffles over money, women, and sometimes just a dirty look. Step inside these savage, sadistic gun battles as each phase of the fight is re-created in crisp, high-tech detail.
WWII Assault on Germany
In 1944, Ike's order was to the point: destroy the German army. This crowning episode vividly chronicles the experiences of the GI's who crushed the German army.
Battle for Baghdad
Ride along the bloody road to Baghdad with two divisions of U.S. soldiers as they fight the Fedayeen Saddam, "Saddam's Men of Sacrifice," on a race across the desert to seize the Iraqi capital.
North Hollywood Shootout
Witness the shot-by-shot re-creation of one of the most violent shootouts in American police history as a high stakes heist turns into an urban shooting spree.
WWII: The Pacific
In the vast emptiness of the Pacific, see how World War II was fought on tiny specks of land where soldiers battled to the death within face-to-face range of the enemy.
SWAT Team Shootouts
Tag along with SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) officers as they relive real crises in this fast-paced, action-heavy episode that has a few happy endings -- and some that aren't.
Iraq's Ambush Alley
A battalion of U.S. Marines from North Carolina descends on the city of An Nasiriyah to capture two strategic bridges. U.S. intelligence says Nasiriyahns will welcome the Americans, but Saddam's men get there first setting in motion a campaign of intimidation and destruction as they hunker down for an ambush.
Hunt for Bid Laden
Fighting the enemy across scorched deserts and frigid mountain peaks, soldiers trek this ancient country on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. National Guardsmen diagram their rescue of Special Forces snipers in this suspense-filled episode.
WWII: Storming France
D-Day was hell, but it was just the beginning of war on the front in France. From a five month battle against the Nazis in the villages and fields of France to a harrowing dance with death during combat in Vezon, relive the most gut-wrenching moments of World War II through the eyes of those who were there.
Battle Cry Iraq: Ramadi
As Marines approach Saddam's stronghold, insurgents issue a warning to shopkeepers: "Today, we are going to kill Americans." Take cover as snipers take aim from rooftops, and Marines absorb a hailstorm of rage during this carefully choreographed ambush.
Iraq's Most Wanted
U.S. Special Forces surround Uday and Qusay Hussein, and more of Iraq's most wanted, in this rapid-fire episode that dissects military blueprints for capturing high-level targets.
Iwo Jima: Fight to the Death
The Battle of Iwo Jima is best known for the flag-raising photo that symbolizes U.S. victory in the Pacific Theater -- and World War II itself. Witness the tragic build-up to this glorious moment as the Japanese launch a savage, last-ditch suicide attack on U.S. troops.
Battle of the Bulge
In Hitler's boldest move, the Axis of Evil created an 85-mile "bulge" along the Western front to drive a wedge between Allied armies. Relive the hellish combat that pulverized Hitler's forces with shot-by-shot accounts from true heroes.
Iraq's Most Wanted: Terror at the Border
Trail U.S. Marines as they hone in on a Jihadist training camp at the Iraqi-Syrian border. This stealth mission packs the latest assault technology designed to eradicate terrorist kingpin Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II
It was the last battle before the bombs. Experience the final confrontation -- equal parts bloodbath and chess match -- through the eyes of the men who lived to tell the tale.
Raid on Bataan Death Camp
Sneak through enemy lines on a lightning raid to liberate hundreds of American GI's languishing in the Bataan death camp in the Philippines.
Vietcong guerillas and North Vietnamese Army regulars fight Americans toe-to-toe in this legendary battle. But instead of driving the Americans out, the communists died in the thousands. From jungle trenches to the streets of Saigon, soldiers re-create incredible rescues to save their buddies.
The Big Red One
The 1st Infantry Division, aka Big Red One, fought more campaigns than any other division in World War II. Step inside battles that defined history from North Africa to Normandy to the final shootout at the Falkenau concentration camp.
Afghanistan's Deadliest Snipers
For five years, heroic U.S. Servicemen and their allies have hunted Al Qaeda and Taliban extremists in the mountains of Afghanistan. This ongoing search has brought both battlefield successes and heartbreaking tragedies, as gun battles and deadly shootouts continue to ravage the area.
Return to Fallujah
U.S. troops return to squelch the insurgency in Fallujah while dodging road bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED's) planted everywhere -- and retaliating with a firestorm of high-tech weaponry during the mother of all urban battles.
The full screen video image for The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 varies at times, with some edge enhancement problems, and a tendency for ghosting in the busier shots. Overall, though, it's a clean image, with a sharp, focused look.
The Dolby Digital English 2.0 stereo soundtrack is clear and loud, but imagine the impact if they had mixed this for a 5.1 Surround. If any series on The History Channel cries out for Surround, it's Shootout!.
There's a very brief trailer for Shootout!: The Video Game.
Told with stunning precision utilizing 3D CGI graphics, live-action recreations, archival footage, graphs, charts, and maps, along with interviews of actual participants, The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 is a riveting look at some of history's greatest shootouts. Firepower is a key focus here, but a steady bead on the human side of the stories keeps The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2 worthwhile history, and not just an excuse for pyrotechnics. I highly recommend The History Channel Presents Shootout! Seasons 1 and 2.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.