We are safer because they serve — or so they say

Quiet on the set! ABC’s reality series featuring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) premiered Jan. 6. 

Homeland Security USA” features several of its agencies: Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

To steal the line from The Washington Post, “We Watch So You Don’t Have to,” we watched, and despite our early misgivings about the show, it was not that bad. It could have been much worse. 

DHS gave us agents who were watchable and likeable. The dogs (uh, K-9s) were as pleasant as their handlers, though we bet that black lab is a handful. ABC should be credited for clean filming and editing. The multiple segments jumped from one to the other in an apparent attempt to keep viewers’ interest. This worked for all of 30 minutes in the hour-long episode. 

Viewers could pick up some useful information, like the many places to hide large amounts of drugs in a vehicle. (How did they get those “bricks” in the gas tank?) We saw how to fool the drug-sniffing dogs with multiple layers of plastic and diaper packaging. We learned it is probably a bad idea to smuggle human cargo. One smuggled passenger lay under the seat of an older pickup truck. When one officer said he had a body, we were pretty sure it was a dead (which was a surprise, but hey, ratings, you know! Got our attention.) She was, in fact, alive. 

But 30 minutes of this was about the limit. Several agents (probably pushed by DHS and ABC suits) reminded viewers that the tasks agents performed helped to keep America safe. (Guess we could deduce that out on our own.) 

The hour wrapped up (thankfully) with a tight shot of an emotional agent. He seemed sincere, but at this point, it was awkward. (We thought we heard “Proud to be an American” playing softly in the background.) Poor choice on the part of the producers. 

Overall, “Homeland Security USA” is worth watching — once. Future episodes are not in our future. 

The blog response in the show’s aftermath was sparse. What few non-media blogs we found were negative, the content disturbing. Federal Eye, a blog for The Washington Post, faulted the show for its incomplete picture. Yeah, yeah everyone’s a critic, but it would have been nice to know how each scenario played out after the cameras stop rolling. 

It could have been a lot worse.

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