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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Jerry Springer Undressed Uncensored! Unleashed Volume 3
Jerry Springer Undressed Uncensored! Unleashed Volume 3
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // February 5, 2008
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted February 27, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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Reviewer's Note: As volumes two and three of this set are virtually identical to volume one in terms of content and quality, this review likewise follows suit.

Back in the days of VHS and laserdisc, I took great pleasure in hopelessly confusing video rental store clerks by checking out bizarrely mismatched double-bills: The Seventh Seal with Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens, The Red Shoes with Return of the Ape Man - stuff like that. Variety, it has been said, is the spice of life, and there's nothing wrong with a little home video junk food mixed into one's diet, so long as you don't overindulge. (Just as Tarkovsky and Kiarostami junkies out there ought to lighten up once in a while and unwind with The Giant Claw or a good Hoppy Western.)

Jerry Springer Undressed Uncensored! Unleashed seemed to be just the ticket. Living outside the United States for the past five years, I've had no, uh, "opportunity" to catch it in recent years. I knew the show to be incredibly sleazy and provocative in all the wrong ways: trailer trash extolling the virtues of group sex and adultery, fringe-types defending their sexual predilections for the terminally obese, or who regard urine and vomit as major turn-ons. If you think Jerry Springer can't possibly get any worse, tune in tomorrow.

Unfortunately, this three-volume DVD collection is just too much of a bad thing. The basic problem is this: these aren't uncensored highlights from past shows but rather pay-per-view specials specifically designed to be as baldly explicit as cable television standards would allow. Uncensored clips tracing the show's Byzantine evolution from Phil Donahue-styled current events / issues chat show to chair-throwing free-for-all with the backwoods cast of Deliverance might have been interesting. Instead, what's presented here is about as entertaining as a trip down to the cinderblock strip club next to the freight yard. (Just in case I haven't made myself perfectly clear: i.e., not entertaining).

Jerry Springer and Jerry Springer have fascinated audiences as much as repelled them for going on 20 years. How else to account for Ringmaster, the movie spin-off that became the DVD bargain bin's most perennial non-seller? Or Jerry Springer: The Musical, the hit British musical that recently played Carnegie Hall with Harvey Keitel as Jerry (yes, Harvey Keitel), and which currently is poised for a full-fledged, hundred-bucks-a-ticket Broadway production?

Clearly Springer himself is an extremely intelligent man working way, WAY beneath his abilities. Born in London's East Finchley tube station (presumably during an air raid) in 1944 to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, Springer's family immigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He worked as a campaign aide to Robert Kennedy and after Kennedy's assassination Springer was elected to the Cincinnati city council, and became its mayor in 1979.

The first hints of the Jerry Springer we're all familiar with came soon after he was forced to resign from the council (before he became mayor) after it was learned the future talk show host foolishly had paid for the services of a massage parlor hooker with a personal check. (Okay, so maybe he isn't all that intelligent.) Rather than hide under a rock Springer came clean with the public, and in true Springer fashion later alluded to the scandal in his campaign ads for governor - as an example of his forthrightness (!). He drifted into local television news, eventually becoming a top-rated anchorman.

When The Jerry Springer Show debuted in September 1991 it was, hard as it is to believe today, a serious-minded talk show whose early guests included Jesse Jackson and Oliver North. Low ratings led to a major revamping by new producer Richard Dominick, and pretty soon the show began to tackle "sexier" topics like racism (with both sheet-wearing KKK members and American Nazis as guests), homosexuality and homophobia, transvestism and transgenderism adultery, etc. But even at this point the show bore little resemblance to The Jerry Springer Show of today. Back then Springer still ended his show with surprisingly literate, socially tolerant "final thought" essays, and if the program sometimes catered to baser instincts, it was still balanced with shows that attempted a modicum of social responsibility.

By the late-1990s however, Springer became a tiresome if hugely popular show of non-stop brawls and chair-throwing, much of it either staged or merely actively encouraged by its producers, depending upon whom you believe. For a time the kibosh was put on the fighting and replaced with even more controversial guests, like adult men who enjoyed defecating in diapers and being coddled by women like infants, "furries," and a man who married his horse. Recently, all the worst elements of Springer over the years have converged into an appallingly atrocious show: the fighting is back like never before, and no deviant taboo is left unexploited. Springer himself literally and figuratively has thrown his hands into the air, utterly giving up on the show as a forum for serious discussion, but presumably finding some measure of solace in his $6 million/year paycheck.

Each of the three volumes Jerry Springer Undressed Uncensored! Unleashed consists of three 55-minute shows. Volume 1 titles are Raw and Original (episodes 1-3). Where the syndicated Springer would bleep out the endless profanity (rendering the show, at times, into something like a silent movie) and optically blur all the exhibitionistic women (and sometimes men and everything in between) exposing themselves, Undressed Uncensored! Unleashed lives up to all three adjectives, but that turns out not to be such a good thing.

Do you really want to see skanky, unattractive women with 10 tattoos and half a dozen teeth cat-fighting? 500-pound women debasing themselves by exposing their ocean of flabby, discolored cellulite for our alleged entertainment? Or watch talentless strippers from Palookaville vye for 15 minutes of fame?

Volume 2's shows are called Undressed and Unleashed (episodes 1-3) while Volume 3 includes Raw and Original episodes 4-5 plus Undressed and Unleashed episode four, not that it makes the slightest bit of difference: the shows are veritable clones of one another. Under any name all nine episodes, some eight hours in all, consists of virtually the same boring guests doing the same boring things over and over and over again. The complete absence of a chapter menu adds to their mind-numbing, sleep-inducing non-quality. Whatever titillation value The Jerry Springer Show might have had as the sleaziest show in syndication is an absolute bore on DVD.

Video & Audio

Jerry Springer Undressed Uncensored! Unleashed is presented in its original full-frame format with Dolby Digital audio. It looks okay, but at this point who cares? There are no subtitle options. There are no Extra Features.

Parting Thoughts

Times like this I wish DVD Talk had a rating lower than "Skip It," something like "This DVD Will Rot Your Brain - Beware! or maybe A Big Fat Nothing!. What might have been trashily entertaining is instead a complete and utter waste of time. Skip It. Please.

Film historian Stuart Galbraith IV's latest books, Japanese Cinema and The Toho Studios Story, are now available for pre-order.

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