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  • Homeland Security USA
    Posted by Bettina Chavanne 8:01 PM on Dec 09, 2008

    True tales of Homeland Security

    I am a reality TV addict, I freely admit it. Despite the fact that reality TV seems to traffic in public humiliation with near-epic glee, I can't stop watching.

    One of the new crop of reality shows I'm most looking forward to is ABC's "Homeland Security USA," premiering on January 6. The idea for the show actually stems from an Australian series called "Border Security: Australia's Front Line," from 2004. My colleague on the commercial side of our operation, Benet Wilson, blogged about the U.S. version earlier this year when her sources told her ABC cameras were cropping up at local airports. Check out her posts here and here.

    The ABC show is supposed to be an unscripted, "unprecedented" look behind the scenes at "the government's fight against terrorism." I think it's going to follow the highly successful formula of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- give each story a hero, an exciting climax and a payoff in the end... the good guys always win. Which, despite my tendency to be a bit jaded about these things, doesn't seem like such a bad plot line.

    Since 9/11, every cop, Secret Service agent, Coast Guard officer, customs official (the list goes on), has had extra work and responsibility foisted on them. If they're lucky, they get to be heroes. But for the most part, the work is drudgery (ask anyone at the Transportation Security Administration). The Department of Homeland Security leans heavily on its resources (men and women like you and me) to safeguard the U.S. That's a lot of pressure, particularly since budgets have cut into personnel, training and equipment.

    The TV show will probably be good public relations for DHS, which has taken a lot of heat for being just another sprawling (mismanaged) bureaucracy. While "Homeland Security USA" may not give DHS (the organization) a big boost in ratings, it should bring much-deserved positive attention to the employees who are doing the hard work every day.

    I will be interested to see if any of the episodes kick up debate. The ones about Coasties making a drug bust will certainly be well-received. But I wonder how the network will treat another "story" they're planning (according to the web site two young men of Iranian descent are denied entry into the country when one is found to have relatives with ties to a terrorist organization and the other carries a fake ID.

    I know I'll be watching.

    Tags: ar99, ABC, DHS

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