Judge William Lee believes DVDs are good lawn fertilizer. He read it on the Internet so it must be true.
Our reviews of Penn And Teller: Bullshit! (Seasons 1-3) (published October 19th, 2006), Penn And Teller: Bullshit!: The Complete Fourth Season (published February 20th, 2007), and Penn And Teller: Bullshit! The Complete Eighth Season (published May 9th, 2011) are also available.
Same show…New bull!
The magician-comedians return for another season of their multiple Emmy-nominated television show. Viewers familiar with the Showtime series know what to expect from Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: The Complete Sixth Season. This was my first exposure to the show so for the benefit of others who don't have Showtime in their area, here's the background: Penn and Teller apply their irreverent brand of comedy to documentary television. Similar to how they reveal the secrets to classic magic acts on stage, they lift the veil off of real life hocus-pocus. Just about any popular belief, noble cause and politically correct position are fair game. The ten half-hour episodes of Season Six are spread across two discs in this set:
• The War on Porn
The camera crew gathers the interview footage like any legitimate documentary production. Sometimes there are staged gags that help cement a point. Penn and Teller tape linking studio segments that provide the commentary to what was filmed in the field. Apparently, the participants know that they are being filmed for a show called Bullshit! so it's not the case that they're being misled by the documentary crew. Of course, they have no way to provide a rebuttal to Penn Jillette's declarations of "Bullshit!" on their business. The camera always records enough material so that the interviewees effectively hang themselves. It's not a fair fight by any measure but the results are often hilarious.
For new viewers, the opening episode really encapsulates everything that makes this show so enjoyable. Being a serious social issue, "The War on Porn" uses any thin excuse possible to show nudity. The researchers have found three anti-porn interview subjects who are ripe for ridicule thanks to their professed expertise (soon to be questioned and destroyed) and their arrogance (which makes them easy to dislike). I wanted to hear them out as each made his or her case, but when one "expert" gives an academic lecture where she says pornography leads to rape which leads to pedophilia without having any evidence of the link…WTF?! Okay. Let her have it, Penn, I thought. And he really lets loose with a profanity-laden attack that shreds her credibility. It's wonderfully entertaining that Penn's commentary comes across like a loud, angry jerk. It's also intellectually satisfying because his argument is specific, reasoned and sensible.
Some of the show's targets are easy material for laughs. Making fun of the people who believe dolphins are magical creatures is like shooting fish in a barrel. The phonies of "New Age Medicine" deserve to be exposed. The "NASA" episode is one instance where they show a little reluctance going after their subject full throttle. Still, they point to enough evidence of mismanagement in the huge bureaucracy to make you wonder if the U.S. space program is worth the expense. I had to brace myself during "Being Green," the episode that sniffs out eco-trendy bull. However, I was surprised by some of the information they presented. Connecting the carbon credit scam with the selling of indulgences by pardoners in the Middle Ages is a small stroke of brilliance. It's high time that someone calls out the green bullshitters.
The picture is presented full frame for all episodes. The image is absolutely fine for a videotaped television show. Audio is available in three options and I listened to the two English tracks. The surround sound mix gives a bit more dimension to the opening and closing titles but isn't really necessary during the bulk of the show. Music and effects are heard in the surround channels while dialogue is concentrated in the center speaker. Consequently, the most important portion of the soundtrack comes across slightly weak. Crank up the volume and there's no problem. Instead, I prefer the stereo mix, which balances all elements in the two front channels. Music and effects have a reasonably strong presence and they don't drown out the loud and clear dialogue.
The only extra on this set is a text-based biography of Penn and Teller. It's actually a pretty good summary of the duo's career in entertainment spanning more than 30 years.
Penn and Teller: Bullshit! is like investigative journalism with boobs and swearing. Lots and lots of swearing. There is good educational content in this series but viewers should exercise discretion unless you want your kids talking like sailors at the school's debate contest. The show isn't fair, but it's funny and the targets mostly deserve it.
Penn and Teller: Not guilty! Bullshitters: Guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Showtime Entertainment
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