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Case Number 15211: Small Claims Court

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Gangland: The Complete Season Two

History Channel // 2008 // 564 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // December 11th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Victor Valdivia's gang, the Latin Online DVD Reviewers, suffers from low membership. Maybe he'll have to offer full dental.

Editor's Note

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.

The Charge

They rob, kill, and terrorize, and they've left their bloody mark on American history. This is the world of Gangland.

The Case

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:

Disc One
• "Maniacal"
The Maniac Latin Disciples are one of the largest Latino street gangs in the Midwest; it continuously wages bloody war against its rivals, the Latin Kings.

• "Deadly Triangle"
The rise of Chinese street gangs in San Francisco's Chinatown district is related both to the presence of organized societies called tongs and the efforts of a Hong Kong criminal in bringing them together.

• "Biker Wars"
The Outlaws is the biggest and deadliest biker gang in the Midwest and the South, controlling its territory through sometimes barbaric acts of violence.

• "Texas Terror"
Unknown outside the Lone Star State, the Texas Syndicate emerged in the 1980s as the state's most powerful gang, controlling substantial amounts of people and territory both on the streets and in prisons.

Disc Two
• "Crip or Die"
From its roots as a small neighborhood gang in the early '70s, the Crips would become the most feared and powerful street gang in Los Angeles.

• "Murder by Numbers"
The 18th Street Gang began as a local clique of Central American immigrants in L.A. and would become one of the city's biggest gangs by recruiting children as young as nine years old.

• "Lords of the Holy City"
The Vice Lords are the second-largest street gang in Chicago, commanding chapters and territories in 28 states.

• "Mongol Nation"
The Mongols is one of the smallest of the major international biker gangs, but is so violent and ruthless that even more celebrated rivals like the Hell's Angels are forced to pay them respect.

Disc Three
• "Gangster, Inc."
Chicago's Gangster Disciples eclipsed their beginnings as a local street gang when gang leader Larry Hoover turned them into a highly regimented criminal corporation in the 1980s.

• "One Blood"
Though outnumbered in L.A. by its bitter rivals the Crips by at least 2-1, the Bloods is far more disciplined and deadly.

• "Sin City"
As Las Vegas becomes one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, the rate of gang activity there has also skyrocketed.

• "From Girl to Gangster"
The rate of women joining gangs, especially in L.A., is skyrocketing. Increasingly the women are far more violent and dangerous than many of the men.

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

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: History Channel
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 564 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Crime
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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