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Driving Force - The Complete Season One

A&E Video // Unrated // December 19, 2006
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted January 17, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Series



In the world of "reality TV families," we've had a whole bunch of strange folks: a clan of bounty hunters, two generations of motorcycle makers, and one seriously twisted family of a hardcore rock star ... so why not a series about a bunch of blood-related race car drivers? Why not indeed?



John Force is a very rich man who comes from very humble beginnings. He's got an estranged wife and three daughters (aged 17, 19 and 23) who are as spoiled as they are casually stupid (please don't think me cruel, but the lovely young Force daughters spend a good portion of one episode debating the definition of the word "original"). Mr. Force is an over-emotional and perpetually exasperated he-man dad-type ... mixed with a healthy dose of Gary Busey. John makes a great living on the drag-racing circuit, plus he seems to own a rather successful dealership of his own.



So the gimmick is this: Wacky, wealthy dad spends 14 23-minute episodes rolling his eyes at his "adorably obtuse" daughters. The fact that all three of the Force girls are, ahem, fairly photogenic serves only to explain how something this shallow made it onto the airwaves. (I guarantee you that somebody at some point pitched Driving Force as "The Osbornes meets The Simple Life, only with all that car-racing stuff that sells like hotcakes in the midwest!")



You might find a few random pieces of amusement tucked away in Driving Force's 14 episodes (plus, yeah, the girls are cute) but I can't imagine the viewer who'd grin through the whole thing, enthusiastically thrilled to have discovered a whole new take on Reality TV. That would be impossible, because aside from the (rather uninteresting) drag-racer gimmick, there's literally nothing here that hasn't been disseminated (ad nauseum) in countless other "reality" shows. And it's not like Driving Force does a very good job on the "reality" thing; conversations between the Forces are presented as hyper-edited and redundant affairs; the episodes are laden with silly coincidences and obvious preparation; the series' few random attempts at emotion come off as shallow, transparent and, well, forced.



Basically Driving Force is in every conceivable way "just another reality show," so if that's the kind of guilty pleasure material you like to fill your weeknights with, go nuts. It might a fairly facile, fake and silly little show ... but at least it doesn't have Paris Hilton in it.



Episode List



1. Ashley's Comeback

2. The Family Business

3. The Journey Home

4. Getting It Back

5. Blowing a Gasket

6. Passing the Torch

7. Daddy's Little Girl

8. A Brave New Track

9. Forced Vacation

10. The Rival

11. Dad to the Rescue

12. Forces of Love

13. Life in the Fast Lane

14. The Western Swing



The DVD



Audio/Video: The episodes look pretty well for this type of "shoot everything and edit a LOT" reality series. Audio is delivered in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.



Extras: On disc 2 you'll find four interview featurettes called A Force to Reckon With, Force Family Matters, Girl Talk, and Racing Fever. Here's where we get just a little bit more from John, Laurie, Ashley, Brittany, and Courtney. As if we needed it.



Final Thoughts



Frankly I'm just sick of all these "look how fascinating OUR family is!" reality shows, and there's not really enough interesting material within the world of Drag Racing to make stuff this mindless feel worthwhile.



Plus this John Force guy gives me a massive headache.

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