Sony // 2005 // 650 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // September 2nd, 2005
"Man, we are gonna #&*%^$ this car up!" -- Monster Garage mechanic
Jesse James and his crew of misfit mechanics return for another kick at the can, converting 13 boring vehicles into rumbling, snorting, sh*t-kicking beasts of metal and fire!
World-renowned builder Jesse James, best known for his work on custom choppers, has made a name for himself in The Discovery Channel's hit show, Monster Garage. With each episode, James and his rotating crew of gear-heads have seven days, $3000, and a garage full of tools at their disposal. Their mission: take run-of-the-mill vehicles and turn them into something very, very different. The more bizarre, crazy, and off-the-wall the result, the better!
Some of the custom vehicles are amazing, some end up less grand than imagined, but all are as far from "stock" as you can imagine by the show's conclusion.
Discovery Channel presents Monster Garage -- Season 2 in a three-disc set, with 13 regular episodes and one bonus episode.
Wedding on Wheels
Ultimate Half Pipe
The Rock Crawler
Donut Shop Squad Vehicle
Bonus Episode: Under the Hood
Monster Garage -- Season 2 is a show that doesn't benefit from being watched back-to-back-to-back. The shows are very formulaic, with the same scenes of auto destruction, piling of wreckage, and a lot of welding repeated in each episode. Watching the series straight through tends to highlight these flaws and reveal many of the shows limitations. The worst of these is the tendency to show the completed vehicle in action during the opening segment, ruining any suspense or surprise as to the finished product. Viewing the episodes in a concentrated way also yields another surprise; host Jesse James is present for very little of each challenge. James will show up once in a while, mutter something either a) supportive, or b) derogatory, and then disappear for another 20 minutes. Most of the work gets left to his rotating cast of mechanics and experts.
Even after watching an entire season of Monster Garage, I'm still not sure why Jesse James is supposed to be such a draw for viewers. He seems to carry almost no presence or charisma, and whatever his reputation may be, there is little in this DVD to suggest that he is anything but an above-average mechanic with a notorious relative. In one episode, James is seen literally sitting on the garage floor pouting because he doesn't like the challenge his producers have come up with. Perhaps we are supposed to believe James is a bad-ass because he sports tattoos and rides motorbikes. Hell, my father has tattoos and rides a bike, and he's nobody's idea of bad-ass (sorry, Dad).
There are also a lot of ego issues at play with the cast and guest mechanics that make enjoying the show difficult. At one point, a mechanic proclaims, "I don't read books, I do things that other people write books about." Sir, with all due respect, you fix cars for a living. Let's try and keep a little perspective, OK? These people may be great at what they do, but when they try too hard to prove it to the rest of us, it gets irritating, and fast.
Irritating guests is an ongoing theme with Monster Garage -- Season 2. There is a hilarious attempt throughout the show to "bad-ass" the guest mechanics, most of whom appear rife with tattoos, bandanas, spiked collars, and many other accessories. Attitude problems also seem to be in abundance among the Monster Garage crowd. In the half-pipe episode, two mechanics decide to walk off of the show and leave their fellow builders high and dry. This might make for better ratings, but it mostly comes off as false bravado and cheap posturing.
But such is the nature of today's reality shows. Like so many of its brethren, Monster Garage is a show with very little excitement that must be jazzed up with rock music, colorful "personalities," and a lot of flashy editing. Unfortunately, Monster Garage -- Season 2 tends to go way over the top, with grinding rock tracks and some truly awful narration that practically shouts at the viewer. Perhaps the show would be more palatable if it took a step back and went in the opposite direction, explaining more about the mechanics and science of the work being done, instead of relying on flashy editing and loud noises.
Viewers shouldn't be fooled by the stringent limits placed on the mechanics in the Monster Garage series, either. Although we are told at the beginning of each episode that the crew may only spend $3000, a great number of freebies from sponsors show up to make things easier. In the episode in which a Ford Bronco is converted into a rock-climber, over $29,000 in extras appears in the garage for the crew to use. This flouting of the limits makes one wonder how much creativity is truly required in these exercises if sponsors can simply throw free product at the crew to fix problems.
The full-frame video presentation is pretty much what you would expect from a recently aired television show. For the most part the colors and image are solid, with little to distract the viewer. The Dolby Digital audio track is loud and aggressive, with few defects.
If you like heavy mechanics, loud pounding, and lots of flying sparks, then Monster Garage -- Season 2 will probably deliver what you are looking for. Credit The Discovery Channel with knowing their audience; if you like this stuff, you'll love it, and if you don't, you won't.
Monster Garage -- Season 2 is hampered by too much noise, too many gimmicks, and too many mechanics with ego problems. Fans of the show will find this DVD to their liking, but casual viewers will likely find little appeal.
Jesse James and his crew are found guilty. The Discovery Channel is released into a halfway house with an urging that they stay on the straight and narrow.
Review content copyright © 2005 Ian Visser; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episode: Under the Hood