Judge Victor Valdivia's gang, the Latin Online DVD Reviewers, suffers from low membership. Maybe he'll have to offer full dental.
Our reviews of Gangland: The Complete Season Five (published August 9th, 2010), Gangland: The Complete Season Four (published August 20th, 2009), Gangland: The Complete Season One (published October 1st, 2008), Gangland: The Complete Season Six (published November 13th, 2010), Gangland: The Complete Season Three (published April 3rd, 2009), and Gangland: The Final Season (Blu-Ray) (published March 30th, 2011) are also available.
They rob, kill, and terrorize, and they've left their bloody mark on American history. This is the world of Gangland.
As much abuse as History deserves for some of its programming and DVD release decisions (this reviewer has heaped plenty himself), the channel does warrant praise when it gets things right. Gangland: The Complete Season Two is one of those times. Unlike some of the terrible reality shows that the channel now traffics in, it actually tells stories that are based in history and reality. Although Gangland can sometimes be a bit sensationalistic and repetitive, for the most part it is a solid show that deserves more attention.
Here are the episodes compiled on all three discs:
• "Deadly Triangle"
• "Biker Wars"
• "Texas Terror"
• "Murder by Numbers"
• "Lords of the Holy City"
• "Mongol Nation"
• "One Blood"
• "Sin City"
• "From Girl to Gangster"
As with the show's first season, each gang has its history retold, and many members, current and former, are interviewed, along with police officers, journalists, victims, and family members. Gang jargon is defined onscreen, so that when a member of the Maniac Latin Disciples offers to show you the "Twilight Zone," you should smile politely and say "No, thank you." Also, run like hell.
In many ways, this is actually superior to the first season set of this show. True, the show still leans a little too much on L.A. street gangs; at this point, how many more shows on the Crips and Bloods can possibly be done? However, there's more variety in the regions and types of gangs covered here. Crime buffs will be fascinated to learn about crews like the Texas Syndicate and the gangs of Chinatown, neither of which are well-known or have ever really been discussed on TV before. Similarly, there are some interesting shows on outlaw biker gangs, groups that are not often profiled when gangs are usually mentioned. The episodes on Las Vegas and female gang members do find some new perspectives and information on these well-worn topics.
The show does have its flaws. It still tends sometimes toward sensationalism. The rapid-fire editing of endless shots of bloody bodies in morgues just gets more and more wearisome as the season progresses. There are also an awful lot of former gang members interviewed who are now anti-gang counselors. It seems as if the show wants to hammer home the point repeatedly that former gang members always turn into counselors, but maybe one or two of these interviews could have been left off, as they add little. Also, though most of these episodes are self-contained, some contain references to gangs and organizations profiled in the first season, such as the Mexican Mafia and the Latin Kings, so some viewers might want to check that one out first so as to not be too confused.
Technically, the shows are of typically decent History quality, with a full-screen transfer and stereo mix. There are no extras, which is disappointing. The Season One set came with additional interviews that added information and context to the shows on that set. Those would have been welcome on this one as well, especially since so many of the gangs profiled here are more obscure and unusual.
Even with its flaws, this set is still a worthy companion to the first season, and it also will serve as a good introduction to this series in its own right. Like its predecessor, Gangland: The Complete Season Two is not guilty and is a must-see for crime buffs.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
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