The First Season
American Chopper: The Series is a reality TV show about what life is like for the Teutul family. Originally the show aired as two specials in late 2002 and early 2003. After the two specials, the show was picked up as a series and has been building a big fan base since. The two main people the show focuses on are Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. (or Paulie). Together they work at Orange County Choppers (OCC), which is a custom bike shop located in Montgomery, New York. Paul runs and owns the business and his son Paulie is one of the most elaborate bike designers. The show focuses on the relationship between the two, as well as the others who work in the shop. Another part, which plays a significant role are the actual development of various theme bikes Paulie is currently working on. Not only do we see the bike building process from the OCC, but also from those who build the motors, the painters, and others who are involved in the process outside of the custom bike shop.
One reason I really enjoyed watching the first season of American Chopper: The Series is because it really stands out amongst other reality television shows. In quite a lot of reality TV, people are put into competitive arenas of some sort. The base of interest becomes to watch these people make complete jackasses of them selves as they battle it out with others. Of course, not all forms of reality TV follows this game oriented format, but still, there are quite a lot of shows like it. Since American Chopper: The Series follows the actual lives of the Teutul family and company, it feels more like reality, which is something Paul Sr. points out in his interview clips found in the bonus features.
While I did enjoy the first season of American Chopper: The Series, there came a point when the show started to feel very redundant. The episodes follow a very similar format. There is some big deadline the OCC needs to meet. As a result, the stress level is pretty high and when Paul Sr. gets stressed, he usually takes it out on Paul Jr. The two bicker back and forth like a married couple, and they also barely manage to meet the deadline. Each project Paul Jr. is currently working on happens to be the biggest most important innovation he has ever been involved on. It slowly becomes the same old same old.
Fortunately, the first season spices things up by taking a few diversions and focusing on other people involved at the OCC. One nice diversion is with Paul Sr. and Cody, a young teenager who is learning the trade. Together, they build a pretty killer "old school" bike. The two-part season finale puts the goofy younger brother Michael working side by side with Paul Jr. After spending the entire season answering phones, sweeping, and doing busy work, his dad lets him build his own bike. But Michael doesn't have much experience and works with his older brother. There are also several trips, where the OCC crew packs up all their bikes and heads off to one trade show or another. Periodically, Paul Sr. takes his boys (and crew) out on different activities to lighten the mood. The diversions they take balance out the show's repetitiveness pretty well.
One thing I was really disappointed about with this first season box set was the exclusion of the two pilot episodes, "Jet Bike" and "Biketober". The reason I thought it was a big deal is that the first episode "Black Widow Bike" jumps right into the show and gives very little introduction to the characters. There are also a few references in the later episodes to the pilot episodes and while it won't ruin the experience of the first season, I think it would have been a lot easier for new viewers (I am one) to get accustomed to American Chopper: The Series and its highly likeable cast.
Overall, this is one reality TV series you shouldn't miss. While sometimes it gets repetitive in content and approach, there are enough diversions throughout the season to keep your entertained. I really enjoyed the first season on DVD and hope you give it a try.
1. Black Widow Bike
2. Black Widow Bike 2
3. Race Car
4. Race Car 2
5. Fire Bike
6. Daytona Bike Week
7. Fire Bike 2
8. Old School Chopper
9. Old School Chopper 2/Comanche Bike
10. Comanche Bike 2
11. Comanche Bike 3
12. Mikey's Bike
13. Mikey's Bike 2
The video is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality is good, with a minimal grain and slight compression artifacts. Overall, the quality looks much better than broadcast television presentations.
The audio is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound quality is a solid replication of the TV series. The bulk of it is spoken dialogue, which is fairly flat. The track also has a lot of music and it has some richness. For those interested, the dialogue is censored, as with the original television presentation. This DVD release also supports closed captioning.
There are not a lot of special features included with this release. They are all found on the first disc. In Paul Sr. Interview Clips, Paul Sr. answers the following questions: "Why People Like the Show", "Adjusting to the Camera", "Seeing Himself on TV", "Grappling With Fame", "What He Rides", "Most Admired Builders", "What He Watches on TV", and "What He Can Bench Press". I was pretty annoyed there wasn't a play all feature and you had to select each clip one by one. The next extra is Commercial Shoot Outtakes, which is approximately five minutes of bloopers. Not hilarious, but worth a quick laugh. The last two extras include a trailer and a photo gallery.
I will be honest; I could careless about bikes and choppers. For me, the appeal of American Choppers: The Series is not really what the latest bike being built at the OCC is (although seeing the different facets of the bike building process can be cool), but rather the intricate personalities of the Teutul family. Specifically, how they interact together is really what brings this show together. Overall, I found this show to be very entertaining and I think you should really give the Teutul family a chance.