"A & E" has become something of a reality powerhouse in recent years. Despite arguments about the quality of programming heading South, cable channels continue to create hits like "Storage Wars" and "Duck Dynasty", which remain cheap to make and bring in the audiences that cable channels are looking for.
"Duck Dynasty" is the latest hit for A & E, and it's a rather amusing little series. The show follows the Robertson family, who started a business over 20 years ago when Phil Robertson started making duck calls out of Louisiana cedar trees. Years later, the duck call business has since exploded, and turned the family into millionaires.
Yet ... they all still dress like a backwoods ZZ Top. The charm of the series and what makes it fairly engaging TV is that you have this ordinary, hardworking family who haven't changed their ways despite their success, and often spend time trying to figure out how to stay ahead of a business that continues to be ultra successful.
Former quarterback Phil remains in the picture, but son Willie has taken over the CEO role and has to corral the rest of the family, who spends their time mixing work and play (largely, hunting, although in a way that is R & D work in this instance.) Occasionally, the work doesn't go quite as planned (or, um, unplanned, as in the first episode where one of the brothers decides to create an R & D pond out of the company's loading dock area. The problem: where do the trucks go to load?)
Some of the highlights of this first season include: "CEO For a Day" (brother Jase finaly learns the realities of the business when Willie tells him he can be CEO for the day), "High Tech Redneck" (when a huge order comes in, the group builds a redneck conveyor belt), "Sauvignon Beard" (Willie decides to buy a winery in order to add a wine label to the company's brand) and "Redneck Roadtrip" (Jase tricks Willie into letting him use the company's RV.) Not sure how many seasons the core plot can be stretched out for (or at least until it starts getting a tad repetitive), but for the time being the series is entertaining and occasionally offers a good message or two.
• Season 1
1 1-01 21/Mar/12 Family Funny Business
2 1-02 21/Mar/12 High Tech Redneck
3 1-03 28/Mar/12 CEO For A Day
4 1-04 28/Mar/12 Frog in One
5 1-05 04/Apr/12 Redneck Logic
6 1-06 04/Apr/12 Too Close for Comfort 7 1-07 11/Apr/12 Leave it to Beavers
8 1-08 11/Apr/12 A 40th Anniversary is a Big Duck-ing Deal
9 1-09 18/Apr/12 Sauvignon Beard
10 1-10 25/Apr/12 Plan Bee
11 1-11 02/May/12 Daddy's Got a Gun
12 1-12 09/May/12 Fishin' for Business
13 1-13 16/May/12 Redneck Roadtrip
14 1-14 23/May/12 Winner, Winner Turkey Dinner
15 1-15 23/May/12 Willie Stay or Willie Go
VIDEO: A & E presents the series in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. While there's some minor edge enhancement and a few little traces of artifacting, the picture generally appeared crisp and detailed, showing off the fine details of the outdoor scenes well. Overall, a fine transfer of the material.
SOUND: Crisp, clean Dolby Stereo presentation, with well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: Some deleted scenes - worth a look for fans, but much of it rightly ended up on the editing room floor.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not sure how many seasons the core plot can be stretched out for (or at least until it starts getting a tad repetitive), but for the time being the series is entertaining and occasionally offers a good message or two. Recommended.