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For all intents and purposes, the second episode of “Stars Earn Stripes” is essentially the same as the first. There is an intro, some training and the mission itself between squads of four men and women. At the end there is a shootout between the stars of the losing squad and someone goes home. That is the long and short of it in summary. Yet that isn’t the whole story either since NBC seems to be ending the show as quickly as politely possible.
This episode had some marked differences from what one might have expected as the episode following a show’s premiere. The second episode comes off feeling more like episode one, part two than its own stand alone episode. Chiefly, this is because the start of the episode picks up right at the end of the elimination from episode one. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, except what the episode starts out with is a bonus shootout between the winning team members. The winner gets an automatic pass for the second episode and goes onto the 3rd round of competition.
If that weren’t enough to make it seem contrived, the shootout, where both winner, Eve Torres and winner, Nick Lachey from the first episode need to fully suit up in full gear to take two shots at a short distance with a scoped rifle. It felt like a cheap excuse that producers used so that the numbers were even again. The logic follows that if the show had to eliminate one team of star and operative at a time, it would take much longer.
Additionally, the show was literally cut short by an entire hour. The premiere was a two hour NBC event yet episode two was only one hour. It is true that with one team gone and one given a pass to the next round, there are only three full four man squads in competition, the show seems to be trying to wrap things up quickly. Still, even though the literal time may have been cut short, the sense of time felt the same as that of the first episode, which means that episode two is still entertaining despite its faults.
On that subject, the training that takes place during the episode is mostly accurate except for one thing: the shooting distances in practice versus the mission itself. There is a vast gap in distance between what is shot in practice and the needed longer range distance for shooting during the mission. Though the stars shoot well, the close distance for the shooting in practice and some close quarters shooting during the mission isn’t going to challenge any serious shooter with a scope.
All is not bad though, as fans will rally for their favorite stars to earn stripes and break through their challenges. Whether mental or physical, NBC does a good job of showing the stars at their best and worst, proving that courage is doing the right thing despite being scared. There are moments where the celebrities are scared straight at some of the repelling and helicopter exits that they have to perform, but “Stars Earn Stripes” shows the human element of military operations very well.
The continued charity work is one of the few saving graces in a show that is being slammed hard by reviewers and international press. The charity money being generated for the armed services and law enforcement is integral to the success of the show and remains one of its core appeals. This part the show does right, rewarding even the eliminated stars with charity money for their participation in these missions.
Many people watch “Stars Earn Stripes” to respect the military while others want to see some action. Regardless of whichever option is chosen, the show is at least mildly entertaining while working towards a good cause. The show desperately needs to shape up to continue any sort of positive ratings climb but more than anything, it seems like NBC is cutting things short with a double elimination next week. This makes for what seems like a quick and hasty exit so that NBC can move on to better things. It seems that this is one show on the way out.
Rating: 3/5 For a show that has one or two redeeming qualities but needs a lot of work on many areas.