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Case Number 17127: Small Claims Court

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One Way Out

Discovery Channel // 2009 // 220 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 27th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson has only one way out of his house, through the front door and the kitchen door. Okay, two ways out.

The Charge

If he can get into it, chances are he can get out.

Opening Statement

Courtesy of the Discovery Channel, "Escapologist" Jonathan Goodwin tries his hand at freeing himself from all manner of bizarre scenarios. Some are successful and, to the guy's credit, some end in failure and abject humiliation.

Facts of the Case

One Way Out consists of ten episodes on two discs, featuring Goodwin and his co-hosts Mike Nelson and engineer Terry Stroud, concocting weirdo escape schemes that typically involve massive amounts of pain and discomfort for Goodwin. For example, our hero has to escape from a box while covered in 200,000 bees; survive while submerged in ice water; spring himself from a catapult before he's launched sixty feet into a lake; untie himself with a car resting on his head; elude the fiery death-trap of being burnt at the stake; and get out of an ostrich cage before he gets pecked to death. Like I said, ridiculous set-ups, but entertaining and actually kind of educational.

The Evidence

I had my doubts about One Way Out. Goodwin seemed like a nice enough guy but I wasn't getting the vibe of the show. Was this a Criss Angel kind of thing? A derivative collection of stunts ala Jackass? Actually, the answer is a mixture of both, with an added layer of physics and supplemented by some genuinely likeable personalities.

With each episode, the escape scenarios grew progressively loonier, but they were never a) too gross or b) over-the-top death-defying. This kept the show grounded in reality and actually lent it more to a feeling of non-contrivance. One stunt has Goodwin bound in a hammock thing, suspended 30 feet over the ground with a pile of mattresses. If (or when) he falls, he's not going to die and that actually made it all the more suspenseful (save for a BMX bodyslam stunt which could have likely ended in serious injury).

The thing is, Goodwin sometimes fails at these endeavors. But rather than being a disappointment, his hey-sometimes-these-things-don't-work-out-vibe goes a long way into giving the series a fun, unpretentious feel. I also like how there is no trickery involved. We get full, exposed views of Goodwin doing his thing, wriggling out of handcuffs, straitjackets, even Super Glue. Another point for the authenticity column.

As charismatic as Goodwin is, the real star of the show are the crazy Rube Goldberg-like contraptions devised for his escape attempts. Slingshot office chairs, a pendulum-powered crane, a domino park that results in Goodwin getting crushed by a 50 pound door, a bee-infested box perched on a washing machine, and my favorite, a Duct tape-aided descent mechanism, which was five tons of cool. Before these big stunts, Goodwin and company typically run smaller "investigations," determining what hurts more, doing a belly-flop into a pool of mud or water, riding a bike full speed into a canvas bag, purposefully getting stung in nipple with a bee. Here's where the Jackass sensibilities come into play, but these guys are a lot less malevolent, and…well, disgusting. It's Jackass the whole family can enjoy.

All in all, a fun little show, solidly entertaining, and semi-educational for exasperated middle school physical science teachers looking to engage their bored students any way possible.

One Way Out is a bare-bones release: episodes look nice in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and receive a 2.0 stereo in support. The show's pilot is the lone extra.

Closing Statement

Fun and low-impact. Maybe keep the kids away from the episodes where he escapes from a vacuum bag and sets his arm on fire. Beyond that, good times.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Like a prison could hold you.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 84

Perp Profile

Studio: Discovery Channel
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 220 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Reality TV
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Pilot Episode

Accomplices

• IMDb








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