The Fourth Season
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is a Showtime original television series that first aired in 2003. The series is about to begin airing of its fifth season. The series features two individuals, Penn and Teller, who are seasoned magicians and atheists who believe in science (refer to Magic and Mystery Tour and Off the Deep End to learn more about them.) In "Bullshit!", they address various public misconceptions and attempt to wade through all of the fluff and bullshit to reveal the truth behind whatever issue they are dealing with. In past seasons, Penn and Teller have looked at the bible, ESP, gun control, big brother, and more. For additional details about this series, please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of
season two, and
In season four, the magical duo looks at some of latest quibbles that have been rubbing them the wrong way. First, they begin with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which is troubling because of their overly traditional and strict rules for admission. They do not allow homosexuals and atheists into their ranks, because, well, they make "bad" leaders. The episode consists of Penn and Teller investigating the matter by interviewing an eagle scout and three individuals who have a beef with the BSA's anti- policies. The episode outlines how absurd the restriction is and ends with a test that only supports Penn and Teller's claim that the BSA are wrong.
For the remainder of season four, nine additional areas are looked at from the Loch Ness monster and cryptozoology to reparations and the Federal Government's racist past to numbers and the misconception that they are always right. For those who enjoy "Bullshit!", this round of debunking should continue to impress. The style and format is very similar to past seasons. However, like John Sinnott points out in his review of season three, the material in this season is not nearly as interesting as the first two seasons. Some of the episodes have very dry points that are hard to get through and others prove entertaining throughout.
Overall, season four of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! offers a decent look into the perspective of two open-minded individuals who are willing to consider a variety of issues, but rarely provide a clear argument or a true understanding of the big pictures (they tend to only put out the "facts" that support their standpoint). Personally, I have never been a huge fan of this show, partly due to their methods of argument. I simply find it hard to take what they present at face value. Yet, the show can still be entertaining. How they present their information is usually colorful and intriguing. Penn and Teller are fun guys and seeing their magic/comedy can be worth a smile.
1. The Boy Scouts: The Boy Scouts of America prohibits scout membership and leadership opportunities to homosexuals and straight males who DON'T believe in God. According to the BSA, atheists and gays don't make good scouts or good role models. If the Boy Scouts of America were a privately funded group, it could discriminate against and hate anyone it damn well wanted to. But the Boy Scouts of America is dependant upon Federal, State and local government handouts. So, the BSA and their intolerance...are BULLSHIT!
2. Prostitution: Everyone knows that prostitution is practiced throughout the land. Where it is legal - in only a few Nevada counties - prostitution is vigorously regulated and monitored by the State of Nevada Health Department. The women submit to compulsory medical tests for STDs. No one is forced to work as a prostitute. Pimps don't exist. HIV has never been detected. The women earn regular paychecks and tips. Some even get vacation and sick days. And they pay taxes! It's BULLSHIT that it's illegal for two consenting adults to have sex with each other!
3. Death Penalty: We understand the feelings of rage felt by crime victims and their families. But studies show state executions have no deterrent effects. And, DNA evidence has exonerated 122 men formerly on death! If we're killing inmates to satisfy a primitive emotion, and if we can't be sure the criminal is guilt as charged, and we have ways to keep someone locked up and out of circulation for life and for less cost, why does our government still support the archaic, primitive, cruel and costly BULLSHIT known as the Death Penalty.
4. Cryptozoology: BULLSHIT! tours Inverness, Scotland, the home of the Loch Ness Monster, with two "cryptozoologists" who try to lure the mythical giant of the deep to the surface... with a bag of fish guts. Later, we investigate the latest mysterious Bigfoot footage posted on the Internet. In between, we check in with some credentialed scientists for their take on the bullshit "science" of Cryptozoology. Will our scientific experts conclusively debunk the existence of mythical creatures? Here's a hint: crypto means "hidden" while zoology stands for the study of animals. Put them together and what do we get? BULLSHIT!
5. Ground Zero: It has been over four years since the worst terrorist attack on American soil, and the only reminder is a big gaping hole in the middle of New York's financial district. Disgruntled family members of the victims want to memorialize the fallen; big corporations wants to get back to business; local residents remain concerned over the health risks of living and working nearby; and politicians blather on, afraid of making politically incorrect moves. It seems everyone is angling for a piece of the multi-billion dollar federal government pie to rebuild the site. BULLSHIT! takes on the fight for Group Zero from street level to New York's towers of power.
6. Pet Love: BULLSHIT! takes its cameras inside the world of extreme pet lovers, where we'll meet reptile enthusiasts, show cats and their owners, and a man who claims to have revolutionized veterinary medicine. We'll visit a woman who shares her home with 25 cats and an artist who creates pet memorials that will blow you away. We'll even get all scientific and figure out why we are biologically attracted to puppies and kittens. Finally, we'll get to the bottom of the diseases our four legged, and fine-feathered friends are spreading, like the West Nile Virus and Monkeypox. Go ahead, love your pet if you still feel like it. But c'mon, let's draw the line at rubbing noses and swapping saliva... Now that's doggy BULLSHIT!
7. Reparations: Slavery, the slaughter of Native Americans (and the confiscation of their tribal land) and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II are three tragedies from this nation's past. However, are those who suffered as a result of these government policies, deserving of money - lots of money? It's called "reparation" and many African Americans today think the Federal Government (meaning Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer) owes them money because their ancestors were once slaves. In this episode, BULLSHIT! goes inside the reparations movements and uncovers the truths about the interment of Japanese Americans, Indian casinos and the Federal Government's long history of correcting the historical wrongs associated with its institutional racism.
8. Manners: According to a recent poll, 8 out of 10 people in the US think Americans are ruder today than any other time in history. Is that even possible? Are we really ruder and less well-mannered? In this episode of BULLSHIT!, we'll find out that our contemporary ideas about manners date back about 120 years to the Victorian period, a time when there wasn't indoor plumbing and people used to urinate in the street. We'll meet an etiquette expert who knows which fork to use when eating salad and visit with a stripper who puts the entire issue of manners into perspective. Saying "please" and "thank you" are good social lubricants and help you avoid getting beat up; the rest of manners, are pretty much BULLSHIT!
9. Numbers: They say numbers don't lie, but in the hands of the media, politicians, pollsters and salesmen, numbers can be downright subversive. BULLSHIT! meets the author of Damned Lies and Statistics. He tells u how numbers are craftily manipulated based on political affiliation and agenda. In addition, the numerically ambiguous world of Vacation time Shares leaves us dazed and confused. We also take street cons to Las Vegas - a town built on numbers - and reveal how readily most of us can be cheated. And we look into BULLSHIT behind the political polls, gambling odds and state lotteries.
10. Abstinence: BULLSHIT! goes on the prowl for virgins! We meet women - and men - who are saving themselves for marriage. We find out what the hell for? Then, there's sex education! We find out if it is helping students screw... or screwing them up. And we get really revved up about the teaching of abstinence! We meet an expert who encourages multiple sex partners before settling down. He has proof that sex reduces stress and it releases endorphins that make us feel good. The cherry on the top of our cherry is a visit to a masturbation clinic. Now we're talking sex education! We'll also meet up with the former US Surgeon General, dr. Jocelyn Elders. She was fired for advocating masturbation as an alternative to sexual intercourse to prevent STDs. Fired? That's BULLSHIT.
This release is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality is very good, providing a clear and clean picture with minor color distortions and compression artifacts. Both dark and bright colors are generally represented well.
For audio options, "Bullshit!" has several audio tracks: English 2.0 stereo, English DD 5.1 surround, and Spanish 2.0 mono. The stereo track is more than adequate, although the 5.1 track offers a slightly more dynamic experience. The sound quality is good with dialogue audible throughout the presentation and no noticeable distortions.
For extras, there is a photo gallery and filmographies for Penn and Teller. There really is not anything of interest here.
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is a television series that stars magicians Penn and Teller. In each episode, they tackle various public misconceptions and attempt to debunk the belief. In the show's fourth season, Penn and Teller handle ten different "hot" topics. Some of the content they deal with is amusing and some is dry and lackluster. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the show, but I still find it the occasional episode fun to watch. Their method of argument is not always the best, informative way, but their style of presentation is still entertaining. In the end, this season set will make for a nice rental.