Dave Mordal was one of the better comedians on the first and third seasons of "Last Comic Standing". Mordal is from Minnesota and has the sort of tone and feel of the guy at the small town bar in a Minnesota or Wisconsin that is pals with everyone. The comedian's dry, throwaway style combined with his low-key approach worked quite well.
After being entertained by Mordal on "Last Comic", I was pleased to see that he was going to be the host of "Wreckreation Nation", a Discovery Channel series that watches Mordal as he heads to various small town oddball competitions or other unusual activities. These activities include lawnmower racing, bar stool sledding and others.
When I first watched "Wreckreation", I found the series watchable but disappointing, and initially I couldn't quite figure out what wasn't clicking for me about the series. There's certainly the aspect that this sort of series has been done or is being done in some shape or form - most notably in the form of "Dirty Jobs" and "Man Vs. Food", as well as Food Network's "Will Work For Food".
After watching it again though, I've found that the biggest issue is - surprisingly - Mordal himself. One of the elements of "Dirty Jobs" that makes that show work as well as it does is host Mike Rowe, whose comments feel genuine and who reacts - positively or negatively (and often irreverently) - to what he's confronted with. Mordal, on the other hand, often feels as if he's reading bland dialogue.
One scene has Mordal following along with three women who wrestle giant 50 pound prehistoric-looking catfish out of the water (for fun? I don't think the episode really explained why.) Mordal barely reacts to the sight and then when he isn't helpful during a catch, one of the women (who really doesn't sound like she's joking around) says he doesn't even deserve to be called a "girl" (and calls him another, unprintable term.) Mordal showed himself to be a tremendously funny comedian on "Last Comic Standing", but while there's moments of minor laughs here, they're rather infrequent. Without a strong host at the core, the series could pass for another "Extreme" special on the Travel Network.
That's too bad, as the activities actually are rather enjoyable to watch. Mordal crosses the country and manages to find a series of fun and/or fascinating small town activities, many of which have quite a few folks who appear to be having a great time watching. The series, however, just doesn't always capture the same sense of fun.
This set includes the first season of the series (a second season has not yet been announced.)
VIDEO: "Wreckreation Nation" is presented by Image Entertainment/Discovery in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation of the HD-filmed series looked crisp and detailed throughout the majority of the running time, with only a few mild concerns spotted. These issues included a few minor instances of edge enhancement and a few traces of artifacting. Not surprisingly, no wear or additional issues were seen with the source material. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack offered crisp dialogue and clear music.
EXTRAS: A series of very brief promos ("minisodes").
Final Thoughts: "Wreckreation Nation" finds some compelling stories, but Mordal never quite clicks as the host, which is a little disappointing, given how funny the stand-up comic was on "Last Comic Standing". The DVD edition offers fine audio/video quality, but minimal supplements. Rent it.