I know pretty much nothing about cars. I mean, I know enough to appreciate the sight of a classic Camaro or jazzy Ferrari, but as far as the design, construction, and repair of these machines? Not me, pal. I can barely change a flat. (And for some strange reason my favorite car is the '79 Chevy Nova.)
Being that sort of automotive ignoramus, I didn't know what to expect from Monster Garage: Season 3. Was it going to be a bunch of crazy races and guys talking about shocks, struts, and ball-bearings? Was it like that motorcycle show I (once) saw about the father-son duo who built choppers when they weren't screaming at each other? (Come to think of it, I quite enjoyed that show.) As much as I admire a well-constructed car, and as much respect I have for the people who actually know how the things work, I'm just not that big of a gearhead. So I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Monster Garage.
But damn if it didn't take me only three episodes before I got a little addicted to the thing. Basically we get this bad-boy mega-mechanic man called Jesse James, and each week he hosts a new gang of engineers, mechanics, and technicians. Every team has a deadline and a limited budget with which to construct some truly amazing pieces of mobile machinery. In the episodes I watched, the teams turned an El Camino into a wild figure-8 race car, reshaped a massive Mercedes SUV into the coolest wheelchair-friendly vehicle ever constructed, and morhped an '82 DeLorean into the craziest hovercraft you'll ever see.
Slickly produced and enjoyably informative, Monster Garage is just a bunch of grown-up kids who break down the fanciest toys under the sun, and then build 'em back up into something outrageously cool. On the third season of this Discovery Channel staple, you'll see a moving truck turned into a mobile wrestling ring, a semi transformed into a gigantic motorcycle, and a ginormous Escalade re-shaped into the world's most amazing tailgate vehicle.
It doesn't matter if you know nothing about cars, because it's easy to be impressed just by watching the process. The ever-changing team members are as enjoyably offbeat as they are supremely talented, which makes it a whole lot of fun as these giant toy constructions near their completion. All in all, it's fun and educational and entirely addicting. And this series must be absolute bliss for the hardcore motorheads out there.
1. Figure 8 Race Car -- Jesse James and the Monster Garage team rip, grind, and burn as they transform an El Camino Super Sport into an indestructible Figure 8 race car.
2. Handy SUV -- Jesse and his team gather round and go all out to convert a Mercedes MLK into a cool hot rod for a man who has been bound to a wheelchair after an auto accident.
3. Hovercraft -- This week's challenge: Turn a 1982 5-speed DeLorean into a hell on earth high speed hovercraft! Forget horsepower. Manpower is the only thing that will make this vehicle go!
4. Grim Reaper 2 -- The same team from the first Hearse build is back to resurrect themselves from Monster Garage hades. They get a rare second chance to correct the mistakes from the previous build.
5. The Tailgater -- Jesse James and the Monster Garage team get to work on a brand new Cadillac Escalade in an effort to convert it into the ultimate tailgate vehicle just in time for the football season! It comes complete with back door hatch that opens up to reveal a 42-inch plasma screen and beverage dispenser among an assortment of other amenities that make tailgating part of the football experience.
6. Street Line Racer -- Jesse and his team are up against the wall as they try to make the fastest street line painter in the world using a reinard open wheel Champ Car.
7. RC Dirt Track Racer -- Jesse's first figure 8 racer (before the El Camino) is turned into a Dirt Track Racer that can be driven with a remote control. The challenge will have Jesse driving the vehicle from the stands of a dirt track raceway.
8. Semi-Truck Chopper -- We're taking the front of a semi truck, scaling it down to its engine and frame, making it into a two wheeler, and riding it like a motorcycle. Basically, we are making the biggest motorcycle you could ever imagine.
9. Santa Float -- In this episode, Monster Garage turns a 1986 Pontiac into a pop-up Santa float. Jesse designs the float with Christopher Lowell, interior designer extraordinaire and a float expert with 30 years of parade float building experience. The outcome is like nothing ever seen before in any Christmas parade. Once Santa is in position, he shoots candy out of his hands and mouth, because even skeleton Santa is a jolly old soul.
10. Jet Car -- To date, its the fastest Monster Garage vehicle ever, topping speeds of more than 200 mph. And its engine? A Rolls Royce Viper MK22 that generates 6,300 pounds of thrust.
11. Jet Boat Racer -- This Monster Garage mission starts with a pickle-fork jet boat and turns it into a one-of-a-kind hot rod. Mike Desmond and John West work alongside an eclectic complement of gearheads. Each builder knows something about horsepower, boats and what's cool.
12. Box Truck Wrestling Ring -- You gotta be kidding me!!! That's the typical reaction of bystanders who witness the newest monster transform. Jesse James and this week's band of builders took a stock U-Haul moving truck and turned it into a mobile wrestling ring.
13. Old Street Custom Ride -- Jesse and crew conquer the classics as they section and chop a stock 54 Chevy. The Roman themed build attracted many a famous customer in its golden age. The Monster Garage breaks all the rules creating this legend with an unlimited budget and free bees.
(Episode synopses come from the Sony DVD cases.)
Video: The episodes are delivered in their original full frame format. Picture quality is consistently strong ... keeping in mind that you're watching a show shot mostly with handheld video cameras.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
Extras: The only extra is a bonus episode entitled "Monster Nation," which takes us on a fantastic national tour of some of the wildest "backyard monsters" ever put together. Watch as a high school shop class builds a speedy go cart from a basic shopping cart, a group of friends try to create the perfect "rock crawler," and about a dozen of the most creative vehicles under the sun. Too bad this is the only extra feature, but it is one hell of an entertaining episode.
If a vehicular know-nothing like myself can fall for a show like Monster Garage, I expect the car freaks must eat this program up with a spoon. You don't need to be a master mechanic to appreciate the crazy craftsmanship on display here, plus you might just learn a little something. At the very least, you'll walk away with a newfound and healthy respect for your local auto mechanic.