As I've noted in past reviews, I think it's terrific to give people who work hard and do difficult and dirty jobs credit. That's what "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel was all about: highlighting people who get up in the morning and do tough gigs every day. However, since then a number of tough job shows have popped up, focusing on loggers, ice road drivers, gold miners, oil rig workers, pawn shop workers (who have to make sure Chumlee doesn't break something on "Pawn Stars") and now exterminators. While it's great to see these shows and have audiences get to go behind the scenes at these jobs, one wonders at what point this trend gets to be overdone.
"Billy the Exterminator", which runs on A & E, actually started on "Dirty Jobs", when Mike Rowe went along on two of the extermination jobs. Billy Bretherton runs Vexcon (which sounds like a convention instead of an extermination business, but that's neither here nor there), an animal and pest control service HQ'd in Louisiana. While technically an exterminator, Billy prefers natural methods or outright relocating an animal whenever possible.
Oh, and there's one other difference between Billy and most exterminators. He dresses like he's a roadie for Bret Michaels - rather than venture into a bee situation with the traditional bee suit, he gets dressed up all in black leather with a store-bought mask and a feather boa thing for further protection. In another episode, he baits a possum trap with nachos. Bretherton is an interesting character and has a lot of personality, providing a decent anchor for the series.
The first season introduces us to Billy, Billy's wife Mary, mother Donnie, father Bill and co-workers, such as Ricky's brother, Ricky (and Ricky's ex-wife, Pam.) Maybe sensing that the animal situations were not enough to fill out the half hour time-frame, the series tries to create drama between the various characters at the office, which quickly grows a little tiresome. While I don't doubt that it probably isn't too forced, it's just not very engaging - I really just don't care about the various relationship dramas.
The core of the series is basically enjoyable, although I think it's a little surprising to me that the series is now heading into its fourth season - it gets a little repetitive/feels a little narrowly focused at times. It feels a little more like a multi-part special or "Dirty Jobs" segment than a series that's now about to head into a fourth season, but nice that it's found a devoted audience. Some of the highlights of this season include a group of possums who have taken up residence under a guy's recently renovated bathroom, a termite situation where a house can't be sold unless the problem is taken care of, a family of raccoons and others, including a wandering beaver (which is a very happy beaver once relocated) and a house that has literally been overrun by roaches to a degree that's like nothing Billy has seen.
Overall, I'm not sure how long "Billy the Exterminator" can draw out the core concept, but it's a moderately entertaining series that looks into a unique job and cast of characters.
01 "Snake in the Closet"
02 "Goth Bees/Killer Coons"
03 "Kitty Corpse Cleanup"
04 "Possums in the Wall"
05 "Llama-Eating Gators"
06 "Psycho Raccoon/Killer Spiders"
07 "Gator Park Swarm"
08 "Raccoon Haunting"
09 "There's a Gator in My Boat"
10 "Tattoo Rattlesnake"
11 "Bobcat Invasion"
12 "Extreme Roaches/Busy Beaver"
13 "Skunks and Mice and Snakes Oh My"
VIDEO: The series is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen by A & E. Presentation quality is certainly not terrific, but not unwatchable and okay for the material. The overall impression is sort of like a very good VHS. Sharpness and detail vary, but the picture generally has a slightly soft look. Some minor shimmering and a couple of traces of pixelation are also spotted on a handful of occasions. Colors look well-saturated and generally clean, although like the rest of the transfer, not noteworthy in any way.
SOUND: Clear, easily understood Dolby Stereo presentation.
EXTRAS: A series of short promo/EPK featurettes: "About Billy", "Billy's Words of Wisdom", "Billy the Storyteller", "Meet the Family", "Donnie" and "Dangers on the Job".
Final Thoughts: Overall, I'm not sure how long "Billy the Exterminator" can draw out the core concept as it seems repetitive at times, but it's a mildly entertaining series that looks into a unique job and cast of characters. The DVD offers average audio/video quality and a few minor extras. A rental for those interested in the subject matter.