There’s something about gangs in America that makes for an endless fascination by the History Channel. Much like there’s a melting pot of people from all over the world comprising the American experience, there’s a similar variety of gangs and criminal organizations that comprise the American criminal experience. History Channel’s Gangland has been the premier show to cover criminal gangs in American and five seasons in hasn’t lost a beat.
Covering Pennsylvania outlaw motorcycle gang The Breed, Nashville’s Brown Pride, the Alaskan branch of the Crips (out of Anchorage), the Aryan Circle and season standards like the Hell’s Angels (their connections with the Canadian drug trade, specifically, are brought out this season) Gangland has a mission to cover the current status and origins of some of this country’s most notorious and violent gangs. From the Aryan gangs, such as the KKK, to Mexican prison gangs the show gets current and former gang members as well as law enforcement officials to comment and provide specific information about each gang.
Following the tried and true formula developed over four seasons already, the show has added little things in production values this season that make it a bit easier to follow. The History Channel is never one to scrimp on production values and the fifth season looks the best of the five so far. Its more graphics heavy than it has been in the past but it’s not graphics for the sake of; Gangland is all the better for it.
Gangland also hasn’t rested on its laurels, either, as it goes out of their way to find gangs high profile enough that haven’t been covered and give them as much depth as more well known criminal outfits. They give us a reason to care about the circumstances involving the gangs and how they evolved; it is one thing to be a criminal and show us the man behind the crime. By showing us the formation of both the particular members and how they settled on their name, ethos, et al, we gain an insight into the criminal mind.
Fascinating in content, Gangland remains one of the best documentary television shows on a channel chock full of them.
Presented in a full screen format with a Dolby digital sound, has a good but not brilliant transfer. The audio can be a bit overpowering at times, and some of the archival footage shows its age.
Gangland continues to be one of the History Channel’s premier shows and season five is a continuation of a great series.
The History Channel presents Gangland (Season 5). Running time 564 minutes. Not rated. Released on DVD August 24, 2010.
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.