Juggs Adm Arsnhoh flagawanna wut dev gonedoo, you gunda ree dist rhu view? Huts ong wityou?
"You are lucky that you're my kid."
Pro-skateboarder and professional sadist Bam Margera (CKY, Jackass) comes back with a second (and third) season of MTV's Viva La Bam for your viewing pleasure. Viva La Bam: Complete Seasons 2 and 3 is pure insanity compressed into ones and zeros spread across a three-disc DVD set. It's like a frat boy fantasy of debauchery, practical jokes, projectile vomiting, fat boy jokes, guys beating the crap out of one another, and the general terrorizing of anything, be it friends, family, animal, or vegetable.
Facts of the Case
"You suck as a son!"—Ryan Dunn, to Bam
The logical extension of MTV's hit show Jackass melded into reality-esque television, Viva La Bam takes Bam Margera out of the streets and places him into a more docile and controlled environment in which to wreak his patented brand of havoc: his parents' living room.
The show stars Bam's family—the overly excitable-yet-loveable April, the big-bellied and docile Phil, and erratically insane Don Vito—and his adopted family of CKY misfits: bearded Ryan Dunn, the laughing Raab Himself, terrifying Rake Yohn, wacky Brandon DiCamillo, construction wizard Tim Glomb, and Bam's ever-present girlfriend Jen. Unspeakable tortures are dished out squarely on the heads of Bam's parents on a daily basis. And don't forget Bam Margera himself, the immature infidel you hate to love and want to smack across the face for being so ridiculous and mean to his family and friends. Of course, this is exactly what you should not do, because if you did, more than likely, he would burn your house down while you slept, the scoundrel.
Viva La Bam: Complete Seasons 2 and 3 contains eight episodes from Season Two, eight episodes from Season Three, plus a third disc full of nothing but goodies. An episode listing follows.
• "Castle Bam"
• "Dating Don Vito"
• "Fat Boy Face Off"
• "Mardi Gras, Part 1"
• "Mardi Gras, Part 2"
• "Community Disservice"
• "Tree Top Casino"
• "Demo Derby"
• "Driveway Skatepark"
• "Uncivil War"
• "Fort Knoxville"
• "Mutiny on the Bam"
• "Angry Ape"
• "Mall of Bam"
• "Baminiature Golf"
After reading Judge Bill Gibron's in-depth analysis of Viva La Bam: The Complete First Season, I humbly realize that I can add very little of substantial worth about the phenomenon that is Bam Margera and company, having had every single base covered so thoroughly in writing before the shrink wrap even came off this DVD set. If you have not read this previous verdict, assume that in this review, I would have written everything he did, but accidentally listed it on a different part of the site, and through a clerical error had my name spelled and pronounced differently. Well, not really. But go read the review. It is that good.
Okay, are you back? Good. Now we can get down to business.
Viva La Bam is stupid, juvenile, puerile, and reprehensible. But more importantly than that, the show is downright freaking hilarious, like a bizarre marrying of The Osbournes and Jackass, combining the best elements of family-based reality television with the pain-inducing pranks of skateboarding videos. No doubt about it, the show is pubescent manipulation, pure and simple; nothing more than visual masturbatory material for the destructive toddler buried deep within our psyches. For exactly the same reason Fox manages to subsist entirely on endless television specials with the prefix World's Scariest… or My Big Fat…, so are viewers hypnotized by the walking train wreck that is Bam Margera and family—drawn in like moths to the flame. Imagine Leave It To Beaver if Beaver was a drunken goth kid with enough personality disorders to give an analyst wet dreams, who enjoyed building skate ramps in the living room and flying in professional skateboarders to help trash his house.
Actually, I think the Beaver did this in one episode too, but it was on The New Leave It To Beaver, and therefore disqualified.
What makes Viva La Bam far more compelling than Bam's previous antics in Jackass and CKY is the full integration of his family into the show as main elements, rather than just having them as the one-dimensional targets of his aggression. They still are, of course; but after so many years of having Bam and friends torture, destroy, terrorize, demolish, horrify, and torture (did we mention torture?) them, his family has settled into a bizarrely functional acceptance of the carnage, like a symbiotic relationship with a psychopathic monkey. With every broken vase, wrecked living room, and bruised and battered body comes dump trucks full of money into the backyard, and each passing second makes it harder to stop the perpetual motion. The Margeras are gluttons for punishment, every last one of them, and not a single member of the family is quite sure what would happen if the mayhem fully ceased (as much as they may pray for it to at the time). Bam seems incapable of changing his ways even if he wanted to, and his long-suffering parents, when all is said and done, clearly enjoy the attention, the fun, and the excitement living with a maniac affords them—they wouldn't keep making the show if they didn't.
Plus, Bam has an oddly generous and kind streak to him, for such a raving and impulsive lunatic. Okay, if Bam steals your car, takes it to a wrecking yard and crushes it into a cube, that's okay; he always buys you an even nicer one to make up for it. This is the bizarre codependency on display in Viva La Bam, and like an altruistic abuser, for all the hell he puts his friends and family through, Bam rewards them with the same feverish intensity. And that makes it okay, in a disturbingly messed-up sort of way.
The most noticeable change from Season One is the location of the show. In the final episode of Season One, Bam proudly displays a stack of notices and complaints from the township from all the tomfoolery performed last season. In Season Two, Bam and family pack up and move into the coolest house in the history of Western society, a jaw-droppingly massive and sprawling converted barn / farmhouse in the West Chester countryside, decorated in ultra-goth design and baroque furnishings with a 14-acre backyard. Dubbed "Castle Bam," the house is quite literally a pleasure palace designed for Bam, by Bam, to be frequently destroyed by Bam at his every whim. If you think his antics were bad in his parents' house, wait until you see what he does to his own. The set is simply incredible and elevates the show to a new level.
The cast of Viva La Bam gels together in ways that no other cast of television characters ever could. Not only have they all been childhood friends or family (or both) for years upon years, they have immeasurable experience in prankery and buffoonery stemming from almost a decade of CKY videos and episodes of Jackass. There is literally no one on the planet with as much experience in causing mayhem and madness as Bam and his friends, and conversely, nobody in the world with as much experience bending over and taking it than the Margera family. Of course, the real unspoken star of the show is Phil's brother Don Vito, the raving, gigantic, incomprehensible lazy-eyed lovable lunatic. The most consistently satisfying jokes in Viva La Bam consist of Bam and crew provoking Don Vito (a disturbingly easy task) into fits of blinding hysteria and Tourette-esque rating and ravings. He could carry the show on his broad shoulders, and often does, providing the best laughs.
As Judge Gibron points out in his review of Season One, there is a shocking lack of accountability in Bam's world—a total disregard for all rules, regulations, liabilities, and the like. The show presents Bam as a maniac, a do-anything-he-wants sort of guy, willing to break any local, state, or federal law he chooses. The reality, of course, as with Jackass, is that the show goes out of its way to engineer this image of reckless abandon and disregard. No matter how many jerky hand-held cameras are added, there is nothing spontaneous about any television show, ever; they are incredibly scripted down to the ink dot with nothing left to chance. If you question this, take a look at how many names are listed in the credits of each episode. As with Jackass, which spent exactly one week on the air before panicked MTV executives realized they would need to subcontract out an entire graduate law class in order to actually air further episodes, Viva La Bam literally must have an entire battalion of lawyers and professionals behind the scenes, debating over safety issues of stunts, clearing all manner of permits, arguing over implied liability, and figuring out ways not to get sued into bankruptcy. As interesting as it would be to see the intricate workings of the corporate machine protecting its own interests, even a glimpse of the gears within would rob the show of its breakneck intensity and spontaneity, and here is where I diverge, albeit slightly, from Judge Gibron's fine review. Viva La Bam does such a good job of crafting the illusion that even a momentary break in the façade would be ruinous. In my eyes, the show is better off preserving the illusion, even at the expense of defying logic now and again. I am glad the Wizard remains behind the curtain.
It should be noted that, according to the packaging, Viva La Bam: Complete Seasons 2 and 3 is presented "uncensored," which is a slight misnomer. The majority of the curse and swear words that were bleeped out of the MTV original broadcasts are presented unedited, but anything that was blurred or digitized out remains so, and the occasional obscenity remains censored. So really, claiming to be "uncensored" is a flat-out lie, but what are you going to do? This small point is the only technical issue with this DVD set, so now that we have gotten that out of the way, be prepared to be wowed by its awesomeness.
Visually, this DVD is a treat, especially considering the quality of comparable MTV television shows on DVD. The level of clarity is impressive, though depending on the film stock being utilized, graininess and distortion occasionally occurs, along with some color inconsistency. I found the particular color tint overly saturated and vibrant and slightly unnatural, but admittedly it compliments the stylized element of the show. Overall, the transfer is incredibly sharp (again, for an MTV production) with excellent detail and black levels. Audio is likewise as tight, with a sumptuous and balanced Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, amazingly well balanced and defined considering all the chaos on-screen. Bass response is deep but never overpowering, and the rear channels see reasonable levels of action and excitement. A great technical presentation, no doubt about it.
The third disc contains all the goodies, the heart of which consists of over an hour and a half of deleted scenes—30 minutes of deleted scenes from Season Two and 75 minutes of deleted scenes from Season Three, to be exact. This material typically consists of extended sequences cut short for time on the actual episode, and surprisingly, having them run to completion without the irritating MTV quick editing and pounding soundtrack is actually a more satisfying experience than the show itself. Go figure. In addition to a photo gallery, some previews (including a spectacular preview of Season Four) and fifteen minutes of "Random-A** Moments," which amount to collages of footages from existing episodes, we get two music videos, one for HiM and one for Turbonegro as well as a short "making of" featurette about the HiM video. Outside of the deleted scenes, the extras are not much to get excited about; I would have preferred to see more unedited and extended sequences than recycled montage footage and music videos.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
"Chuck hat anything flaygawanna car like dat, wut dey gonedoo, you gunda take it to a junkyard jus ledum habit at the junkyard demselves…huts ong wityou?"—Don Vito
As hilarious as Viva La Bam is in its current incarnation, watching the deleted sequences, sans annoying MTV editing and rapid-fire soundtrack offers an entirely different perspective of the show not afforded by watching it in its standard presentation. Simply allowing the sequences to play out in a more natural fashion, as it turns out, is more outrageously funny than the highly engineered format of the show. Admittedly, I dislike the MTV style of television shows, with the overproduction and trendy soundtrack, despite the fact that they consistently churn out entertaining material.
In a perfect world, we would just have the Margera family—no special effects, no soundtrack that changes every ten seconds, no fancy editing tricks. These guys are hilarious enough as it is. All that extra fluff is artificial and does nothing to improve the show, if you ask me.
The real punch line behind Viva La Bam is not the destruction, or the gross-outs, or the sadistic torturing of friends and family or any of the surface elements that make the show so hilarious to watch. The inescapable truth behind the show is that for all the chaos, the Margera family has better relations with one another than most families in North America could ever hope to have. Seriously. Watch the show, and find yourself more and more enraptured with the bizarre dynamic of love, destruction, and torture that holds the Margera family together. The dysfunction, which gives way to an odd functionality after the blood, sweat, and smoke settles, is compelling in a totally unexpected way.
The more you watch the show, the more you start to realize what a great relationship the Margeras all have with each other, and how amazingly cathartic the simple act of taking your car and trying to run over your friends can be. The more you watch Viva La Bam, the more you start to envy the Margeras, and the more you wish your family lived in a castle, routinely trashed the place, took road trips to Mardi Gras, went sailing on a pirate ship, and so on.
In a freaky sort of way, this is the nuclear family of the future. Get used to it. Sooner or later, they are moving in next door to you.
"I feel like I'm in Disneyworld."
A great show and a great DVD set. The court is pleased.
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