Judge Brett Cullum strives to find what makes the star of Shaun of the Dead so damn dangerous!
"Think of me as your duke of hazard!"
Nick Frost, the star of Shaun of the Dead, finds himself enjoying a cult icon status akin to that of Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead movies. It seems fans can't get enough of this overweight, near-sighted, lovable lunk who fights zombies from inside his favorite pub. To help curb our appetite for all things Frost, Rykodisc has released the actor's anthology series on dangerous situations called Nick Frost's Danger 50,000 Volts!. Now it's not as good as Shaun of the Dead, and true fans should wait for his much funnier series called Spaced, but Nick Frost's Danger 50,000 Volts is worth a look if you're curious. It's an educational show to boot, since it discusses how to survive a variety of situations that are pretty probable, like a hippo attack, parachute failure, lightning, Komodo Dragon attack, extreme cold, flash floods, heatstroke, ice fishing, bugged rooms, quicksand, brake failure, and minefields. How many times have you been in one of these dangerous situations and wished you knew exactly what to do? Well, now you can.
The show first ran on English television in 2002; included here are that first season's eight episodes. It's a reality show, with Frost interviewing survival experts and placing himself in harm's way to test what he learns. Then there are animated bits labeled "too dangerous to film," which pop up about twice per episode, that depict situations even Nick wouldn't want to film. The animation looks like one of those airplane safety guides brought to life. These sequences are easily the most hilarious part of the series. Every episode discusses six life-threatening situations and the most appropriate response to them. The best aspect of the show is the chance to see a future star in his early development. Nick Frost is quite likable, and he shines as a presenter.
Nick Frost's Danger 50,000 Volts! is presented by Rykodisc in a region-free two disc set that is a common in its transfers. Technically we're looking at English television here. Even worse, we're looking at a reality program from across the pond. The transfers are widescreen, but the pictures are often murky and grainy. It was produced on the cheap, and shot quickly, so that's to be expected. Sound elements fare about as well. It's a tinny two-channel mix without much to it. You're hardly going to give your home theatre a work-out here, and it's not exactly digital splendor by any means.
In the extras department, Rykodisc has done much better. Included is a more recent episode created after of the popularity of Shaun of The Dead. In this bonus episode, entitled "50,000 Zombies," Nick describes how to survive an onslaught of the undead with helpful strategies to use when faced with them. He's helped out in this episode by zombie expert Dr. Russell Fell. It's easily the stand-out of the entire set. Every episode also contains some rather congenial commentaries, with Nick Frost and various members of the crew and production team telling behind-the-scenes stories about the show. They are all pretty solid, and offer some more insights into how a show like this develops. Also included are "Dangerous Facts," which can either be accessed during the show from sporadic danger icons or in a gallery on the second disc. I recommend accessing the tidbits of survival trivia from the gallery, since the interactive icons appear and disappear rather quickly and break up the show.
Overall the show is not terribly creative, when you consider the series of books that came out right before the big Y2K scare called Worst Case Scenario (when survivalism became big business). Oddly enough, this show seems to have a lot of the same information found in the literary entries, and worse still there was even a similar show made from the books with another large comic actor (whoops!). The humor is dry and very British throughout, and I'm not going to say Nick Frost's Danger 50,000 Volts! will rival Frost's better works. But it is what it is, and if any of this sounds vaguely appealing, the set is worth at least a rental. It all really boils down to how much you like seeing Nick Frost just being himself, and goofing on how to stay alive in some pretty rotten circumstances. If you like Nick Frost, British television, and are a fan of instructional guides on how to survive in the worst of conditions then have at it.
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• Commentaries by Nick Frost, Producer Jon Riley, Director Matt Gilbe, and Researchers Katherine Fish and Allison Vann
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