Personally, I've felt like I've been on a journey with Dog the Bounty Hunter. I feel like I've taken the "Wild Ride" and helped put "Crime on the Run". And something tells me that in Dog's seventh season (during which the show aired its 200th episode), the show feels like it might be taking a nostalgic lap of sorts. Don't get me wrong, they're still going to catch fugitives, but maybe Dog and Beth feel a transition.
During the season (the disc of which is titled "This Family Means Business") there are a couple of things that transpire here. For one thing, Dog Chapman and his wife Beth have delegated a bit more responsibility to their family while they enjoy a bit more of the Hawaiian life. Their daughter Lyssa handles more of the day to day operations, and along with Beth apprehends a fugitive in the episode titled "Girl Power," in another, Dog's younger son Leland, who runs the satellite bond office on the Big Island, handles more of a particular bond in the ep titled "The Great Debate." Dog and Beth are trying to inhabit the grandparent role a little more in the season as well, spending time with the children, and we see more of the family in their non-apprehending time too. Tim Chapman, Dog's 'spiritual' brother, returns to the business after taking some time off to raise his three children on his own.
That isn't to say the show has strayed away from its focus on fugitives. Dog and the gang still do what they do best, hunt down and capture those who are fleeing from their legal and familial obligations. He still manages to provide them with a worthwhile share of calm and rational words before they go to prison. If they have a violent charge they are facing, he tries to understand more as to the reasons why. If they are addicted to drugs, he wants them to know that it is a problem that can be beaten. As a former convicted criminal, he knows the road that many of them go down, and wants them to stop themselves before they go completely off the tracks. There are times though when Dog's morality play tends to be a bit heavy handed, such as when he wants to particularly apprehend a fugitive and make him apologize to his father for his proclivity to violence, it takes away from the time in the car in a softer moment when he can be his most effective.
The Chapmans are in a fortunate position right now: the show, currently airing on the A&E cable network, remains a ratings stalwart for that channel, and there are some more episodes in the can. There have been highs and lows within the family and within the show (a child-centered episode dedicated to capturing Santa and an episode following Dog and Beth on a promotional tour for a recent book being among those), but in Season Seven it almost feels like Dog stays just visible enough to remind people that it's still his face and his show, but he gives Leland and other son Duane Lee a lot of chances to serve as a focus of their own episode or two. It doesn't go too deeply into their family lives, but I'd hope we'll see more of them in their downtime in future episodes.
Perhaps that exposure will come in the future because of the success the show has enjoyed. Seeing this transition in This Family Means Business might be one of those instances where a show lives up to its title. The show still remains one where fugitives are apprehended, but seeing the Chapman family as heads of household, enjoying their children and grandchildren and being caring husbands is more prevalent now than it has been in prior years, and I hope the show continues that balance and even increases it a bit more going forward.The Disc:
I'm almost certain this might be the first Dog disc that has been released in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's finally nice to see the show come up to the 21st century in that regard. The show is still mainly done with handheld cameras (the only sit down interviews occur in the supplemental material on the disc) and lipstick ones that are placed in their SUVs that escort criminals to jail, and the image is free of edge enhancement and haloing, looking very faithful to their original broadcast format. Solid viewing and a welcome improvement for the show.Audio:
While the video quality has changed, the audio (two-channel Dolby stereo) has not. Everything remains a forward listening, exclusively in the front channels listening experience. The rear channels and subwoofer remain unengaged throughout the disc, but the action in the front channels sounds clear and without hissing, chirping or other distractions. Sounds about as good as the show does when it airs, can't ask for much more.Extras:
The only supplement is a standalone episode (designed to air before the show's 200th episode) where the family recall some of their highs, lows and memorable moments (44:04). During the episode, we see Bog, Beth, Leland, Duane Lee and others touch upon the Chapman family dynamic, memorable fugitives they've captured through the years and even the fashion choices (Beth, looking at you on this one), all the while including clips from those shows and others throughout the run. While it would have been nice to include said 200th episode into this disc, the retrospective is a fond look back with a relaxed and stressed-free Chapman family.Final Thoughts:
This Family Means Business finally does a couple of things that the other Dog discs might not have been able to do, provide a decent video transfer and supplemental material, even if said material isn't all that hot. Moving to the entertainment portion of the show, it is nice to see that the family is providing more prominent roles in episodes while Dog and Beth enjoy a bit more of their (gasp!) golden years. Here's hoping that we see more of the family outside of Da Kine Bail Bonds, as that time may be as entertaining as their "on" time is. This is definitely worth checking out, but I'm sure A&E will reair all of this stuff at some point so you're better off waiting for that.