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Case Number 03020

Monster Garage

Discovery Channel // 2002 // 200 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jonathan Nelson (Retired) // June 19th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Monster Mantra #1: If you rip it, grind it, and burn it, they will watch.

Opening Statement

I am not a gearhead by any stretch of the imagination. Pimpin' out cars has never been a favored hobby in my household, plus I like my 1962 Studebaker Lark Cruiser just the way it is, thankyouverymuch. Although it would be cool to reverse the doors, and maybe split the hood down the middle so it opens on the sides, or maybe put some gold rims on, to match the paint, and lower the chassis about four inches…oh, what? Sorry, caught me daydreaming again. I am not the artist able to accomplish this feat, but now I know who to see: outlaw Jesse James.

Facts of the Case

Yes, the descendant of that legendary figure of the Wild West now lives on the West Coast under his famous great-grandfather's name: Jesse James. No longer slinging guns, instead his weapon of choice is a blow-torch and some carefully laid out plans. He and his crew down at West Coast Choppers specialize in custom motorcycles and tricked out cars, but courtesy of the Discovery Channel, his gang of garage jocks has been tapped for some of the most bizarre custom orders ever to see the light of day.

With a budget of a mere $3000, Jesse and crew have seven days to design, plan, and execute their twisted employer's request. When done, the car must look like a stock car that had no modifications done to it. Should they succeed, they all will receive a tool set valued at $3000 dollars for their efforts, but if the fail, nada esse. And just what are these tasks you ask? How about turning a Ford Mustang into a 120 mph lawnmower of death? Or converting a fully stocked stretch limo into a fully functioning fire truck? These are not tasks for those of weak conviction. This is a job for the Monster Garage.

The Evidence

There are four episodes, each 50 minutes long, presented on the two discs of this set. Every episode begins with the introduction of the challenge, then meeting the crew, and finally the plan. Decent computer animations that clearly illustrate what is trying to be done to the car in question helps to clarify some of the harder to explain approaches the team will attempt. The four episodes are:

1990 Ford Mustang -> Lawn Mower: John Deere, meet your worst nightmare. Do you feel lucky, punk?

1993 Ford Explorer -> Garbage Truck: Taking the term "white trash" literally, this poor SUV might have fared better had it been painted blue instead of white before rolling off the assembly line. *sniff sniff* What's that smell?

Limo -> Fire truck: Four alarm? No sweat, just let me put down my drink and get out of the hot tub.

1998 Volkswagen Beetle -> Swamp Boat: The ultimate gator-hater has arrived. Try not to step on it.

The Garbage Truck episode has the most drama of "will we get this done in seven days or will Jesse shoot us first?" action. At times, you may be catching yourself wondering which team member will be voted of the island next.

The picture quality is about what you would expect for TV broadcast: a little grain, but no major color bleed. Otherwise, a very decent transfer. There are no menus to select different sound options or even subtitles, so you're stuck with what is presented. Not to say that is a bad thing, because the sound does come out quite clear most of the time. The only annoying aspect of the sound at all is the constant heavy metal music in the background, which does ease up at times, but after the 57th rendition of the raspy voice echoing "monster garage" it becomes a little much.

There are no special features, which is surprising. There is some Discovery Channel advertising at the beginning, but I wouldn't exactly call that an extra feature.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Obviously, this is not the entire season of the show, and despite any rumors you may have heard in your local garage, Jesse and Co. are only human. Sometimes they do fail. Obviously, they only want to show the best of the best on this DVD release, so it can be safely assumed that all of the episodes will show the successful attempts instead of the failures. My only complaint with this policy is that all of the suspense of the task is totally lost during the opening intro for each segment. We know they only have seven days to do it, and they do encounter unforeseen difficulties in the process of implementing their designs. So don't ruin that build up of suspense by showing us the final product in the very beginning of the episode. It's like being shown the horrific monster in broad daylight with spotlights shining on it, then going into the darkened movie theater and having to pretend you don't know what the monster looks like until the very end. You just feel cheated.

Closing Statement

For fans of the show, this disc is a no-brainer, and for chop-jock wannabes everywhere this is prime study material. Those with no interest in cars may still be amused, but be warned this is more Metallica than Martha Stewart.

The Verdict

Jesse James guilty? Not in this lifetime. This court finds the defendant not guilt on all charges, pending that he finishes the custom mod-job on the Judge's ride before the seven days are up. Case dismissed!

[Editor's Note: Apparently, this DVD is only available for purchase from Discovery.com.]

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 100
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Discovery Channel
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 200 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• Official Site

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