Penn & Teller Bullsh*t!: The Complete Fifth Season – DVD Review

bullshit
Available at Amazon.com

Harry Houdini was not someone you would ever see discussing current events and trying to make sense of world politics. You wouldn’t have ever caught David Copperfield with his own sitcom hoping to make people laugh like Jerry Seinfeld. David Blaine would never be caught spouting off with a filthy mouth worse then George Carlin. But that is exactly what you get with Penn Jillette and his sidekick Teller. Magicians turned people of the world turned comedians turned foul-mouthed hooligans. All of that makes for a fantastic act, but you take one variable out of the equation (namely the magic), and the whole experiment turns to sh*t.

Penn and Teller have long been entertaining crowds with their feats of prestidigitation and their witty banter. Okay, at least Penn’s witty banter, because as you all may know by now Teller doesn’t speak. This makes me think all of a sudden that this really isn’t a show involving Penn and Teller, but merely Penn. Oh well, more on that later. The main objective of the series is that they take common everyday situations and try to debunk them or more so, call them on the grounds of bullshit.

They prove some very valid points and truly bring them to the forefront whereas most people wouldn’t ever put them into the smallest amount of perspective. Take the episode where they dissect America’s hatred for Wal-Mart for example. Penn and Teller bring up how much people hate Wal-Mart yet it is a “disgusting thing” that will never go away. They talk about how little town America has people fighting to keep Wal-Marts from commercializing their towns, yet their small towns are struggling to even make ends meet. When it all comes down to it, people hate it but they really need it.

That is the premise of every episode in the fifth season of Bullshit! and I’ve got to say that it’s incredibly boring at times. I have loved Penn and Teller for years, but you take them out of the magician’s circle and their whole reputation goes down the drain. Every ounce of information thrown at us in these episodes is interesting and proves some really good points, but it just gets old really fast and feels like a lecture most of the time. Penn constantly berates those being interviewed from a narrative point of view which leads me to my earlier point that this should simply be called Penn Jillette’s Bullshit! because Teller does nothing but show up in the opening montage.

Episodes

Disc One:

Obesity: Penn & Teller reveal truths about the Obesity epidemic. A visit to an Obesity conference exposes the uncomfortably cozy relationships between the medical establishment, the diet companies and the weight loss industry. An advocacy group for overweight people tells us about the hardships and discrimination brought about by their weight. Plus, the first-ever Penn & Teller ‘Fat Guy Olympics.’

Wal-Mart: Penn & Teller expose America’s love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart. We look at the good and bad sides of the biggest employer in the US. We challenge the director of the documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, we reveal union efforts to smear Wal-Mart, we meet a chronically unemployed young mother in Chicago to see how her life changed when Wal-Mart came to town and we look for the silver lining behind third world sweatshops.

Breast Hysteria: Penn & Teller look at women’s breasts and society’s response to them. In New York City, we meet a young mother who inadvertently tested corporate tolerance for breast-feeding in public. Further south, in Daytona Beach, Florida, we meet a woman who challenged the rights to flash her breasts in public. We also meet a breast cancer survivor who is not a supporter of those ubiquitous Pink Ribbons. And, down in the valley of porn, we find a topless porn star/mother of two who philosophizes on the benefits of the La Leche League.

De-Toxing: Penn & Teller expose the truth behind our supposedly toxic insides. We find out about “colonics” and those “cleansing” diets including today’s diet darling, the “Neera Super Cleanse.” An actual Parasitologist – a scientist who studies parasites – tells us the truth about the parasites among and within us. A visit to the world’s largest inflatable walk-through colon rounds out the episode.

Exorcism: Join Penn & Teller as they battle Satan… and win. They visit three modern day American exorcists who perform their versions of the classic demonic exorcism with jaw-dropping results. Plus, the “The Black Pope,” the leader of the Church of Satan, talks to us while feeding breadcrumbs to pigeons.

Disc Two:

Immigration: Penn & Teller look at illegal immigration. On the Arizona/US border, The “Minutemen,” a gaggle of mostly retiree volunteers who protect the American border, show us how they keep illegals from crossing into the country illegally. Illegal immigrants tell us what compels them to risk everything to come to this country… Plus, a crew of illegals builds a replica of a border fence… then demonstrates how they’d get over, under and through it.

Handicap Parking: Penn & Teller expose the BS behind handicap parking and the bureaucratic nightmare that is “The Americans With Disabilities Act.” To the chagrin of many in her community, the mother of a disabled girl advocates for her rights. A best-selling author and disabled since birth, says things were better before the ADA stuck its nose into the lives of people with handicaps. A disabled lawyer threatens to sue dozens of business owners for claiming they are in noncompliance with ADA federal building codes. Plus, we roll a smart-ass guy in an Iron Lung down Hollywood Boulevard to test the limits of handicap accessibility.

Mt. Rushmore: Penn & Teller strike bullshit in the hills of South Dakota when we take the show to Mount Rushmore. There, we meet people who love and revere the monument, and others who actively despise it. And historians tell us the good, the bad and some very ugly details about the monument. We look at the subject of patriotism and what’s right about criticizing your government. Plus, in the shadow of the US Capital and at Mount Rushmore, we find Americans who freely and willingly sign away their right to free speech.

Nukes, Hybrids, & Lesbians: Penn & Teller take on nuclear power, hybrid cars, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and lesbians on a blind date, all within the same episode. We discover the bullshit behind keeping nuclear power down, the waste left behind by hybrid cars and the garbage clouding decisions to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Plus, two lesbians on a blind date road trip put their newfound relationship and a hybrid car to the test.

Anger Management: Penn & Teller reveal the ugly truth about court-ordered Anger Management, a popular therapy method whose validity is completely unproven. A psychic pianist explains why you’ll feel better after you punch one of his pillows and we find out about a fascinating experiment utilizing hot sauce to expose what’s wrong with “venting.”

The episodes are shown in Full Screen format even though the box itself says Widescreen. There is a correction sticker on the DVD though saying the change. None the less, the episodes look very good and made a very clean and clear transfer to DVD.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and not much is needed considering that the series is virtually all dialogue.

Biography – There is a text biography about the two men that is really nothing much.


It’s really a shame that this series sucks so horribly bad because I love Penn and Teller. Their magic acts have wowed me for so long and I think they are absolutely hilarious, but this is totally different. Here we get none of Teller and just have Penn cursing constantly and sounding incredibly bitter. Sure there are a few moments that made me chuckle, but not enough to keep me from almost dozing off every now and again. The rare episode here and there wouldn’t be that bad, but to watch Bullshit in large doses kind of made me gag. Having no special features didn’t help the score for this DVD set either. You’d figure that some behind the scenes outtakes or a magic trick or two could have been included, but we get next to nothing. Perhaps the earlier seasons were better, but this one left so much to be desired. A desire to stop the DVD and chuck it out the window. Hey-yoooo!

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Showtime Entertainment presents Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: The Complete Fifth Season. Directed by: Star Price. Starring: Penn Jillette and Teller. Running time: 300 minutes on 2 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: May 20, 2008. Available at Amazon.com