Discovery Channel // 2009 // 344 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // March 20th, 2010
Let chaos ensue.
Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers are back in action for a third season, and as usual, they hit the road across Tornado Alley to chase and intercept massive storms that have the potential to produce the nation's most dangerous twisters. For most of these guys the stakes are higher this season because they all have very specific goals they want to achieve. This disc includes eight thrilling episodes following the most courageous chasers as they attempt to collect crucial data that could help them develop earlier tornado warnings and eventually save many lives.
The concept of Storm Chasers is certainly not new, but what sets this show apart from other series or films of this genre is primarily the incredible determination of these tornado chasers to deliberately collide with threatening storms in order to study them for the purpose of science. Most of the guys we get to follow onscreen are just fearless, and that obviously boosts the show's level of suspense. Not every episode on this two-disc collection delivers the goods in terms of spectacular footage and thrills, but most of them boast a bunch of sequences that are quite simply amazing.
The main players this time around are Reed Timmer of Tornadovideos.net, IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey, and experienced weather engineer Tim Samaras. Timmer and Casey drive around in the armored vehicles they build specifically to go head-to-head with twisters, but their goals this season are not exactly the same. While Casey's ultimate dream is to capture a unique shot of him inside a tornado, Timmer really puts a lot of emphasis on generating groundbreaking research that will help him study these storms in ways no one ever has. Samaras is in it for the research as well, even though he usually takes it a little safer than the rest of the guys.
For those not yet familiar with the show, Storm Chasers follows these guys as they track down the craziest storms in the hope of spotting and chasing twisters. That's pretty much all there is to it. Even though they also provide viewers with some useful information about how these storms work, the real kick of the series is the compelling footage they themselves and their camera crews capture inside these gigantic storms. Depending on the weather, this certainly qualifies as one of the most fast-paced reality documentary series on television. There are a few episodes during which the chasers don't get lucky and we don't get to see that much impressive footage, but for the most part, we sure get to see a whole lot of twister this season.
Whether you fully enjoy Storm Chasers also depends on whether you are in some way fascinated by storms of this caliber. I've always been impressed by photos and videos of real twisters, so I found it especially easy to get hooked to this series in an instant. Watching guys like Timmer drive directly into twisters can indeed be a very nail-biting experience. Unexpected shifts in weather or other problems the chasers encounter certainly add to the suspense, and so does the anticipation or the disappointment they all deal with when they either successfully clash with strong storms or wrap up a day empty-handed.
There is also a bit of drama featured on the show because most storm chasers are competing against each other, and while I admit I don't care much for these moments, they do end up shaking things up a bit. It is true that every episode is structured the same way, but then again, every twister looks different, which brings along enough variety to keep the show interesting enough. Needless to say, it's definitely engrossing to get to know how these chasers work and what new gadgets they come up with to reach their goals and collect important scientific data. This, at least, is what I call reality TV with brains.
In terms of technical aspects, Storm Chasers looks good on DVD. Shot handheld with smaller cameras, the quality of the footage is certainly excellent for what it is. Especially the footage of storms is amazing. Audio works perfectly as well. The second disc includes a bunch of deleted scenes and some webisodes, which basically offer a bunch of additional footage. If you can't get enough of Timmer and co., the bonus section is worth checking out, for sure.
Storm Chasers is an action-packed TV series that takes viewers on an exciting journey across Tornado Alley. These things are real and cause much devastation in the U.S. every year, and watching them roar around on the small screen is quite impressive. This show really got me curious about what it would be like to chase these storms up close.
Stormy, but not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Discovery Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 344 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site