Showtime Entertainment // 2006 // 288 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // February 20th, 2007
Grab your shovels.
Penn and Teller started the Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit! in 2003, and skeptics and cynics have been celebrating the cerebral show ever since. The mission is to reveal cons and crimes that sucker America, and this is the fourth season of the show packaged for DVD called Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: The Complete Fourth Season. Why would two Vegas magicians take it on themselves to reveal frauds and scams? They are carrying on the tradition of master magician Harry Houdini who made it his mission late in his career to reveal common cons. The magicians say the difference between liars and the act they perform on the stage is "We tell you we're lying!."
Each show opens with a skit from Penn and Teller that introduces the subject to be debunked, and obviously Penn Jillette does all the talking while Teller mugs silently like a magical mime. Penn keeps a constant profanity laden diatribe over documentary footage while talking heads debate the arguments. Penn always takes the dark cynical side, but his arguments are as well thought as they are bombastic. In between segments we get more skits from Penn and Teller as comedic punctuation to the rants. Jillette says the name of the series and all the profanity are used to defend the show legally. Apparently calling people "liars" or "frauds" is considered slander, but calling "bullshit" or hurling "mother fucker" at someone is just good clean fun. Don't you love speech laws? They're bullshit.
During season four here's the bullshit the guys took on:
* Episode One, "The Boy Scouts"
Penn and Teller challenge the Boy Scouts of America for the restrictive membership clauses -- mainly "no gays, no atheists, no women." It's not that the guys have a problem with private organizations restricting members, but they call out the Scouts for accepting Federal, State, and local government handouts. That makes them a public organization funded in part by tax dollars, so the denying of membership is BULLSHIT!
* Episode Two, "Prostitution"
Penn and Teller look at areas where prostitution is legal, and are surprised to find a thriving business monitored by the state health departments without pimps and with health insurance. They decide trying to prevent two consenting adults from having sex for money is BULLSHIT!
* Episode Three, "The Death Penalty"
Penn and Teller consider the idea the death penalty only satisfies a primitive emotion. The investigators find evidence to debunk the idea the death penalty is anything other than BULLSHIT!
* Episode Four, "Cryptozoology"
The Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot? BULLSHIT!
* Episode Five, "Ground Zero"
Four years have gone by since 9/11, and yet only a disturbing hole remains of the site. Penn and Teller look at the BULLSHIT of trying to decide what to do with what should be a beautiful, moving tribute to heroes and victims of the tragedy.
* Episode Six, "Pet Love"
Sure we all love our pets, but cat shows and treating dogs like humans? Penn and Teller call BULLSHIT on a thriving industry that asks us to humanize our animals.
* Episode Seven, "Reparations"
Who does the Federal Government owe money to for its past wrongs? Penn and Teller call BULLSHIT on a proposed program that could inspire institutionalized racism rather than absolving any sins.
* Episode Eight, "Manners"
Are we less civilized now than the Victorians? Do we live in a rude world with no manners? Penn and Teller call BULLSHIT on the idea that people were more socially adept when they had no indoor plumbing and peed in the streets.
* Episode Nine, "Numbers"
Statistics, political polls, gambling odds, state lotteries, and vacation time shares are BULLSHIT!
* Episode Ten "Abstinence"
The idea of teaching abstinence only is BULLSHIT.
The fourth season of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! as a whole is a strong one. Taking on the Boy Scouts, Ground Zero, and the death penalty resulted in moving and compelling television. The guys showed the appropriate amount of respect for the hot button topics, and still got the arguments across eloquently even if they dropped the "f bomb" on more than one occasion. The series is a prime example of how cable television trumps network shows, because Penn & Teller: Bullshit! dares to take a stand where other shows waffle in a politically correct mess of cowardice. Penn and Teller have balls: other news shows are neutered. Now the guys do stumble now and then. I can't say the "Pet Love" episode revealed much other than people are sorta nuts when it comes to the dogs and cats in their home. But is this news? Still, it's fun to see Penn curse while kitties prance through a cat show obstacle course and fashion show.
As much as I love Penn and Teller, I'm going to call bullshit on this set's extras. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! -The Complete Fourth Season consists of ten episodes spread over three discs without anything but a photo gallery and filmographies as extras. These shows are simple fullscreen transfers of half hour episodes that don't take up that much disc space. Surely we could get some deleted scenes, bloopers, interviews or commentaries. The picture and sound is fine throughout, and each episode is delivered uncut and in the order they aired. And that folks is all we get.
Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: The Complete Fourth Season is a fresh load of ten episodes that continue the muckraking magician movement. This is an outstanding set of episodes, and it certainly makes sense as a purchase or rental if you didn't get to catch the show on cable. But be warned, you don't get much more than the episodes. If you recorded the series as it aired you don't have much reason to check this one out, unless you want to have an official copy to thrust on your more gullible friends. The biggest problem facing America is how much bullshit we fall for, again and again. Thank goodness Penn and Teller are here to save us.
Review content copyright © 2007 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Showtime Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 288 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* Penn and Teller Filmographies
* Showtime's Official Site for the Show
* DVD Verdict Review of Seasons 1-3