But we're still not seeing enough of those loudmouth D.I.s, says Justine Elias

By Justine Elias
Updated May 04, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jackson: Fox

”Boot Camp” recruits send Jackson packing

Remember what middle school was like around the time of a big homecoming dance — or right before sports team tryouts? Fox’s ”Boot Camp” is here to remind us. Whenever its four scary but charismatic drill instructors take a back seat to the squabbling of the wannabe recruits, ”Boot Camp”’s militaristic trappings are all but forgotten and the series plays like ”Degrassi Junior High” as directed by a cut rate Oliver Stone imitator. It’s all whispers, insinuations, and trumped up conspiracy theories pitting the boys against the girls.

THE ”MORETTY’S THE PET” THEORY Jackson, a Brooklyn, New York, filmmaker opines that Moretty, a Navy spouse and mother of two, is the darling of the D.I.s. ”She’s getting by on looks , personality, charm, and cuteness,” he grouses. Indeed, D.I. Francisco chats (sort of) amiably with the three female recruits about the dangers of laundering whites with colors. And the D.I. is SMILING as he inquires about Moretty’s proficiency at washing ”tiny Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls.” But is this favoritism — or being patronizing?

THE ”D.I. MCSWEENEY IS A CYBORG” THEORY D.I. McSweeney marches the six remaining recruits into the chilly lagoon to learn how to use their clothing to stay afloat. (What a valuable lesson! Would’ve been nice if ”Boot Camp” had showed it.) Anyway, the recruits are wearing long pants and shivering like mad. McSweeney’s got bare legs, and he’s not. At all. Jackson bails, saying, ”I’m not going to get hypothermia just because the D.I. tells me to do something.” Surprisingly, McSweeney declines to punish him, explaining, ”I didn’t need to go ballistic. I think it will affect his standing in the squad.” To continue the ”ice water in their veins” motif, ”the punishment for failing the mission is one hour in a Jacuzzi filled with cold water. Hmmm. Who thought that up? (Luckily, they succeed, and get a tub filled with hot water.)

THE ”JACKSON’S ABOVE IT ALL” THEORY When Jackson exits the cold water, it costs him: The three female recruits, plus Moretti with an I (the guy), vote him out. (Predictably, he takes a female down with him: Brown, who outed herself as a lesbian in episode 2). Even in defeat, the aspiring writer / director is impressively poised: ”This recruit was strong when strength was needed; smart when brains were needed; and musical when song was needed, SIR!” If Jackson pitches scripts half as well as that, his former boss, Spike Lee, better hire him back FAST.

THE ”FINAL FOUR” THEORY Okay, it’s not a theory. It’s a fact. The four surviving recruits are: Moretti with an I, who doesn’t get much camera time because all he ever says is ”I want to win ‘Boot Camp”’; Moretty with a Y, the accused flirt; Whitlow, whom Jackson memorably describes as ”a blank slate”; and Wolf, whose new buzzcut has transformed him, by McSweeney’s estimation, into a ”total chick magnet.” Really, McSweeney is being charitable. Guess he’s not a cyborg after all.

Three more ”Boot Camp”’s to go. Who do you think will win?

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