The six episodes on this single DVD contain the first batch of I Pit The Fool, the TV Land reality television series in which Mr. T shows up at strange places to help people get along and solve problems. Sound like an odd concept for a series? It is, but despite the cornball factor it works better than you might think.
Each episode finds Mr. T called in to assist with a different predicament where he's able to instill in the people who call upon him one of his six core values. Each episode is named after said value, and they play out as follows:
Episode One: Motivation Nemet Motors, a car dealership based in New York City, calls upon Mr. T to help solve slumping sales and help heal some of the familiar and professional relationships that are key to the business. Highlight of the episode? Watching Mr. T sell a Nissan.
Episode Two: Unity The Abato family of New York is having problems. Frank, the patriarch, spends his days at his sewage treatment job and when he comes home he just doesn't feel like dealing with his wife and kids. Mr. T has to show him the error of his ways.
Episode Three: Trust The big recital is coming up soon for the students at the East Coast Dance School, who are feeling the pressure from the teacher who rules the school with an iron fist and their parents who flat out do not trust the woman. Mr. T gets to try his hand at dancing.
Episode Four: Respect Ron and Susan Layden are the proud parents of four teenage boys but are unfortunately having trouble keeping them in line. Mr. T is called in to teach the boys to respect their parents and hopefully get the kids under control before things start to spiral.
Episode Five: Leadership New York City's MetroStar Realty needs someone to get the sales team focused and so Mr. T is called in to teach a few agents how to have the right kind of initiative and how to concentrate on goals. In turn, leaders are born. Yay T!
Episode Six: Communication Mike and Ed own the La Spezia Restaurant in New York but they argue a lot and their relationship is stressed. Mr. T comes in to teach the two guys how to better communicate with one another and in turn how to better run their business together.
The very idea behind this premise is pretty corny - the producers know it, the audience knows it, and Mr. T knows it. So thankfully, T plays things with tongue placed firmly in cheek most of the time. That's not to say that there aren't moments of somewhat serious drama and emotion on the show, because surprisingly enough there actually are, but for the most part Mr. T seems to be having fun with this job and that fun is actually infectious. It's difficult not to snicker when Mr. T tries to sell a couple a Nissan or giggle when you see him dancing alongside some prepubescent girls in a studio. Narrating each episode himself and closing things off with a Jerry Springer-esque wrap up speech, the series is done with a nice sense of humor and as such it makes for enjoyable family entertainment. There are morals to the stories and lessons to be learned, making this good viewing for kids but there's enough comedy, some intentional and some completely circumstantial, that adults should get a kick out of it too. That said, once you see these episodes you're unlikely to feel the need to revisit them. There's no suspense, no surprise, and little reason to watch this material more than once even if it is a fair bit of fun the first time around.
The non-anamorphic video presentation is letterboxed at approximately 1.66.1 and for the most part it looks pretty good. There is some shimmering in a few scenes and because a lot of this material was shot under 'real world' conditions the lighting isn't always perfect. That said, there aren't any problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to complain about and the picture is consistently clean and clear with no dirt, debris or print damage.
Audio on this release is presented in a decent English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix with optional closed captioning available in English only. No alternate language dubbed tracks or subtitles are provided. As far as the quality of the audio is concerned, it's fairly middle of the road. Some of the material recorded on group settings or outdoors picks up some background noise but Mr. T and the rest of the participants generally come through pretty clearly. The background music and the narration courtesy of Mr. T himself also sound quite good.
Well, aside from some fairly basic menus and an episode selection menu, this release is completely barebones. The packaging is nifty, at least, in that it features a piece of fuzzy black felt over top of Mr. T's Mohawk. Goofy, but kind of cute.
I Pity The Fool - Season One has enough humorous moments to make it worth a watch once, but it's unlikely that this is a series you'll go back to time and time again as there really isn't much replay value. While the Lion's Gate DVD looks and sounds fine, the lack of supplements obviously doesn't add any value to the package either, making this one a safe rental but not much more.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.