Mail Call is a documentary television program appearing on The History Channel and hosted by R. Lee Ermey, a retired Gunnery Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps. The show debuted on August 4, 2002 and is presently part of the 'Fighting Fridays' lineup that airs on Friday evenings. Most episodes are 30 minutes, but as of 2007 some more recent episodes have been 60 minutes.
During each episode, Ermey reads and answers questions submitted by viewers regarding weapons and equipment used by all branches of the U.S. military now or in the past, as well as by other armed forces in history. Ermey often takes his viewers on location to military training areas to film demonstrations. When not on location, Ermey broadcasts from a set resembling a military outpost, including a tent, a Jeep, and various other pieces of military survival gear which have changed throughout the series.
Comic relief is provided as Ermey inflicts DI-style verbal abuse on his listeners or tests the effects of various weapons on watermelons (the host's "sworn enemy") and paint cans, as well as occasional appearances of "Mini-Lee", an action figure styled in Ermey's likeness, often seen berating a luckless GI Joe figurine. His demeanor as host is similar to the character "Gunnery Sergeant Hartman" portrayed by Ermey in the Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket, though this attitude is shown only towards his listeners (e.g., insisting that his listeners return after a commercial break) and not the military special guests.
"Mail Call" also was the name of a popular World War II-era radio program. It was created by the Armed Forces Radio Service and debuted August 11, 1942. It featured celebrities of the day and was meant as entertainment for American overseas forces. In both cases, the title "Mail Call" is drawn from the military practice of the same name where soldiers assemble to receive mail from a designated person, who will call each soldier's name in turn to pick up their mail.