I wasn't planning on reviewing Billy the Exterminator - Season Three, having already tackled its first two seasons last January. Back then I binged watching and reviewing two seasons back-to-back - not the best way to see inherently repetitive shows like this. But paced more leisurely, a week or two apart, as I ended up watching the last-half of season two, I found myself enjoying the series a lot more than I expected, which is pretty much my reaction to Season Three.
Still spraying those eugenol oils, Billy and his family once again battle the usual assortment of bees, hornets, snakes, cockroaches, alligators, armadillos and other pests, relocating most of the mammals and reptiles to new homes in the dwindling wilds of Louisiana. It's a goofy, entertaining and even informative reality series with likeable human and animal "stars." Season three offers a few minor changes, all good, though I'd have liked to have seen one change that didn't happen: episodes are still in 4:3 matted widescreen, and not 16:9 enhanced.
Billy the Exterminator - Season Three includes all 17 episodes (down from 21 in Season Two) on three single-sided DVDs, including the one-hour "Best of Billy" retrospective. Bonus features include three short featurettes.
For the uninitiated: Billy the Exterminator follows the pest-controlling adventures of Billy and his family, the Brethertons, who own and operate Vexcon Animal and Pest Control in Benton, Louisiana. As the lively opening titles make plain, in addition to Billy, the family includes Billy's Pete Puma-ish brother, Ricky; his Ma Kettle of a mother, Donnie, also the company's dispatcher; and Big Bill, Billy and Ricky's father, sidelined by a heart attack and other health problems but who nevertheless insists on helping out when he can. Billy's wife, Mary, is credited in the opening titles but hasn't been seen or heard from much since the end of season one.
The success of the show has less to do with the pests they encounter than the Brethertons themselves. Billy, dressed head-to-toe in black, studded leather, with Vexcon's skull & crossbones logo prominently featured all over his clothes and on the company trucks, often initially intimidates his more outwardly conservative customers, who tend to be wealthy and/or religious suburbanites and rural good ol' boys. Yet, invariably, Billy's good manners - he addresses everyone as "Sir" or "Ma'am" - and gentle nature win them over. He enjoys capturing animals ("Holy crap, dude! Look at the size of that!"), nursing them back to health in many cases, and then relocating them back into the wild where he knows they'll be happier. In one show a disheveled raccoon doesn't make it, and Billy is clearly deeply saddened by its untimely demise.
Both Billy and his brother are also aware that their services help prevent the spread of diseases: several episodes have them exterminating cockroaches threatening the respiratory systems of elderly residents in fragile health. ("Nice drapes," Billy says. "I love the cockroach pattern.") Amusingly though, Billy and Ricky are so proud of what they do they tend to be chatty with customers, and sometimes it's clear they're ready to go back inside their air-conditioned homes and get on with their lives before Billy and Ricky are.
Although Mary seems to have disappeared into a black hole, the producers wisely beefed-up Donnie and Big Bill's presence, giving them a lot more to do this season. The especially likeable Donnie, who dotes over her two 40-something sons (she constantly cautions Ricky about his various allergies), is even drafted into helping out on a few assignments. Her nagging/loving relationship with Big Bill is sweet - they clearly adore one another.
Season Three's show are the usual assortment of hyperbolically-titled half-hours: "Invasion of the Giant Rats," "Coffin of Deadly Reptiles," "Raccoon Rampage," and "Hogs Gone Wild!" There is, however, an obvious attempt to focus on more unusual cases this time out: a bee-infested tower used to train student firefighters; capturing a rare albino raccoon; coming to the rescue of an injured hawk; aiding a company that provides wolves for movie and TV productions.
Video & Audio
As noted above, Billy the Exterminator - Season Three is rather pointlessly offered in 4:3 matted widescreen rather than in 16:9 enhanced format. The zoomed image looks okay but could be better. The 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo is fine and the show is closed-captioned.
As with Season One, included are some amusing behind-the-scenes featurettes, all lightweight but entertaining stuff that play like mini-episodes: "About Billy" (seven minutes), "Billy's Crew," and "Behind-the-Scenes" (each just under nine minutes). Oddly, these segments are 16:9 enhanced.
Best viewed in small doses (avoid that "Play All" button if you can) Billy the Exterminator - Season Three is still quite entertaining and enjoyable three seasons in. A fourth year is airing now. Recommended.
Stuart Galbraith IV's latest audio commentary, for AnimEigo's Musashi Miyamoto DVD boxed set, is on sale now.