Lionsgate // 2013 // 241 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 18th, 2014
It's a duck nation.
So there's this little reality show called Duck Dynasty. A lot of people watch it. Recently it was in the news. All the time. And that's all I'm going to say about that particular slice of our pop culture history.
The fact that you couldn't turn on a cable news channel and not be bombarded by all things Duck is an indicator just how popular this saga of a backwoods family in Louisiana really is. Their draw isn't too hard to understand either. If you haven't watched the show I can understand if you'd be inclined to write it off as just another hillbilly series -- which was where my mind was at when I first got exposed to the series -- but you'd be mistaken. A&E and the Robertson family have stumbled on something golden, and now they're reaping the rewards.
The allure is, basically, this: The family goofs around, but you're laughing with them, not at their pathetic redneck antics. The cameras aren't giving you a peek into a zoo-like subculture, but, rather, are inviting you into the family. That results in a "laughing with, not at" dynamic, buttressed by the attractive notion that this isn't a dysfunctional enclave; they are, in fact, loving and supportive of each other. That's the pitch, and large swaths of Americans (myself included) have bought in.
Granted, the recent crudeness of patriarch Phil Robertson's unfiltered, awkward comments in a magazine interview may have dulled the shine of the clan, but my take was always this: the guy is what he is, a gruff, simple, archaic duck call maker. He's not a spokesman for a political party or an elected official or toting around the nuclear football. That's not an excuse -- in fact, as a Believer myself, I am not a fan of the way he speechified -- but it is what it is and, to me, the blow-up served merely as a lesson in the "burn-hot-and-short" American news cycle (as well as the reality that a lot of people have no idea what freedom of speech means).
Okay, now I really mean it; I'm not talking about that anymore.
Back to the show, Season Four brings everything you've come to expect from the Robertsons' misadventures: Willie battling with his layabout employees, Phil attempting to instill redneck hunting skills in his yuppie grandkids and Uncle Si mumbling incoherently. Highlights from this season include: the first appearance of the eldest Roberston son, Alan, performing a renewal of vows for Phil and Kay; Godwin installing a rancid old hot tub; Si creating his own YouTube instructional video; John Luke getting plastered off of nitrous at the dentist; and the entire Duck Commander gang turning their warehouse into a haunted house for the town's kids.
Willie has described the show's approach to storytelling as "guided reality." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it's obvious this isn't unvarnished TV. The scenarios are clearly premeditated (though the dialogue seems to be off-the-cuff). It rubbed me the wrong way at first. I eventually got over it, looking at Duck Dynasty as sort of a hybrid between true reality and scripted television.
Whatever it is, it's entertaining. Everyone's likable, Si is good for a couple of gut laughs each episode and, frankly, it's refreshing to see a family that doesn't try to eat itself alive in front of the cameras each day.
The two-disc set is straightforward: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, webisodes and a handful of funny, Si-centered deleted scenes.
Ah, duck it. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 241 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site
* Facebook Page