The Third 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.
In the first season, most of the show's focus was on Paul, who runs and owns the business, and his son Paulie, who is one of the most elaborate bike designers. In the second season there is more focus on the other individuals who work at OCC. Of course, there is still a lot of camera time spent on Paul and Paulie. Some of the other characters include Michael, the goofy younger Teutul brother, Cody, the only teenager employed at OCC, Vinnie, one of the OCC's most important crew members, and many others involved in the design and creation of a chopper (from the people who paint and build custom bike parts).
The third season flows a lot like the previous two seasons, as there really isn't a lot of room for change or growth. The biggest change is that Mikey is no longer considered the goof he was when he was first introduced. Well, he is still a goof, but he is taken a little more seriously. His role in the OCC is no longer answering phones and cleaning up after other people like it was in the first season. Instead he gets to play a more active role in the bike making process, which is something we saw when Paul gave him a chance to design and build his own bike in the end of the first season. Since then, he has gradually played a more important role as an OCC mechanic. This season sees Mikey working with Vinnie again to build another bike in a much stronger role than previous seasons.
Basically what each episode looks at is the trials and troubles that the crew at the OCC runs into during their latest project. All the while Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. go at it. They yell and scream at each other over the most trivial things. But it is this dramatic touch that gives the show its edge. It's pretty cool to see how these custom choppers get built and also listen to them yell at each other... or is it? Well, not always. Sometimes it feels a little too pushed and the Pauls arguing over this or that gets old. Although watching the bike fabrication process is generally intriguing to watch.
Still the episodes are entertaining on their own right. If you've enjoyed past seasons, then season three's thirteen episodes should do you well. The crew at the OCC build bikes for some high profile individuals like athlete Lance Armstrong and actor/singer Will Smith. The season concludes with a tribute bike being made for one of Paul Sr.'s heroes David Mann, a renowned bike artist. The season also features another tribute that sisters the bike they made for New York Fire Fighters in season one. The tribute bike is for the New York Police Department, which is another emotionally involved two-part episode dealing with the salute to the NYPD and 9/11.
Overall my impressions of this third season are the same as season two. When I first sat through season one, I enjoyed it. However with subsequent seasons, I found the show was pretty much the same, episode after episode. The general flow of each episode pretty much has Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. arguing over something and the OCC frantically trying to finish their current project, because it is the most important one they've ever had. The bottom line is that this can be fun to sit through, but it is not something I can imagine wanting to watch over and over again.
1. Dixie Chopper Bike
2. Dixie Chopper Bike 2
3. Mikey/Vinnie Bike
4. Mikey/Vinnie Bike 2
5. Future Bike
6. Future Bike 2
7. Crimson Chopper
8. Cycling Chopper
9. Cycling Chopper 2
10. Police Bike
11. Police Bike 2
12. Biker Legend Chopper
13. Biker Legend Chopper 2
The video is given in two formats, 1.33:1 ratio full frame color for the first two episodes and 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color for the remaining eleven season episodes and the special edition episode. The picture quality is good, with a minimal grain and slight compression artifacts. The quality looks much better than broadcast television presentations. The widescreen presentations are slightly cleaner than the full frame.
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 items on the bill for extras, but what is included is a full featured episode. Jr. vs. Sr. is a full length special edition episode with lots of arguing, yelling, and screaming between the Pauls. The special episode takes an interview approach where the Pauls calmly discuss different aspects of their relationship and the discussion is supplemented with clips from the show. For those who are just looking to see the Pauls go at it, this is a nice episode to fulfill that desire.
I find American Chopper: The Series is entertaining enough that I can manage to sit through a season and be awed by the choppers they build and sometimes chuckle from the "happy" relationship the Teutul family has. I have no interest in motorcycles, but the fabrication process can be pretty amazing to watch. And the crew at the OCC do make some pretty amazing bikes. While I do find this an attractive aspect about the series, it is also something I feel has little replay value. I really can't imagine wanting to watch the episodes over and over again. For that reason, I think this season set would make a good rental. But than again, this season set has such a low M.R.S.P., it wouldn't be a terrible investment if you are considering buying it.