Appellate Judge Kent Dixon was going to get a tattoo of a guy tattooing him, but he thought that might create a rift in the space-time continuum.
Replace motorbikes with tattoos, replace father and sons with male friends, and there you have it…American Ink! I mean Miami Chopper. Well, you get the idea.
Reality TV has been around a long time, dating back to shows like Candid Camera, and it was revived into its current form in 2000 with the premier of Survivor: Borneo. Miami Ink falls into the category of professional activity reality TV, originating in 1989 with COPS, and along the same lines as American Chopper and Dog: The Bounty Hunter. Personally, even though these shows are billed as "fly on the wall" productions where a camera crew simply films the action and drama as it naturally unfolds, I find it nearly impossible to believe that the presence of cameras doesn't cause people to overact or put on exaggerated behavior and emotions. That said, I've been at some very interesting family reunions, so who knows.
Facts of the Case
Miami Ink: Season One focuses on a tightly-knit group of tattoo artists working together at a shop in Florida's South Beach. A reality show at its core, Miami Ink combines human drama and touching stories with good old personality conflicts to spice things up. It's hard not to get hooked on the show when it airs on The Learning Channel, but is there enough substance to justify a purchase?
I want a tattoo; this is a conclusion I've come to in the past few years. Do I have one yet? Nope. It's not that I'm particularly apprehensive about the process or worried that it will be painful. I am more concerned that anything I chose as meaningful to me now wouldn't be that meaningful any more, say at 75 years of age. So the tattoo musings continue in my life; maybe that's part of the reason why I regularly watch Miami Ink.
Nearing the end of its fifth season and with plans for a sixth, Miami Ink is closing in on 70 episodes and shows no signs of slowing down. Each show's composition is much the same…viewer's receive an inside look at the inner workings of a professional tattoo shop, including the ongoing drama and personality issues among the staff, and the personal and often touching stories of the clients who come to Ami James and his crew.
To get a sense of the potential egos and issues of Miami Ink, it's helpful to take a close look at the staff:
Kat Von D
Not only is Miami Ink successful itself, former Miami Ink staffer Kat inked (sorry!) her own deal with The Learning Channel for a spin-off show called LA Ink. And London Ink, which airs for a six-week run from September 23, 2007 on Discovery Real Time, follows London-based tattooists Louis Molloy and Dan Gold, who have previously worked on the likes of David Beckham and Kate Moss.
All 10 episodes of the show's first season are included on Miami Ink: Season One. Each disc features a main menu page with some tattooing sound effects that made my upper lip sweat, as well as some full motion video clips and a funky hip hop backbeat. This release certainly won't be included on your reference list to show off your home theater, but at the same time, the audio and video quality are solid and better than broadcast. The audio presentation is clean and delivers a nice balance of dialogue and background music used in transitions and Ami James' narration segments.
There are no extra features of any kind included with Miami Ink: Season One. It would have been interesting to hear Ami and the gang on a commentary, to get a sense of how much reality and truth this show includes. Aside from that, as the show itself is pretty much one big "making of" featurette, including anything along those lines would have seemed silly. The lack of extras really is a crime, especially when from what I can tell, the Region 2 release of this set includes cast interviews, a photo gallery, exclusive Miami Ink DVD-ROM content, and access to printable tattoo artwork.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
On the down side again, the set comes as a cardboard foldout with a cardboard slipcover, not too bad so far. But each of the discs simply slides into a cardboard slot; there are no plastic trays or other elements to protect the discs from potentially scratching every time you remove them or put them back after viewing. Maybe this was a cost-saving measure, but it certainly won't save costs for any consumer who needs to replace the discs after multiple viewings. My advice? Invest in an empty five-disc DVD case from Ebay and save the risk of potential damage to your investment.
Although the expression "guilty pleasure" is often overused, it certainly fits with Miami Ink: Season One. If you find yourself tired of run-of-the-mill reality shows like Survivor and Big Brother, spend some time with Miami Ink: Season One. Even if you don't have a tattoo yourself and thus have no point of reference for the art form, you'll likely still find something appealing in Miami Ink: Season One. Beneath the drama and occasional conflicts, you'll find a tight-knit group of world-class artists who are masters at the often-misunderstood trade of tattooing.
Ami James and the Miami Ink crew are not guilty…of anything to do with this release anyway. But TLC has been charged with skimping on the extras, when they're clearly out there.
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