Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: Season 4, Vol. 1
Screen Media Films // Unrated // $29.98 // March 2, 2010
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 16, 2010
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The Movie:

Animals have problems and some of them have gone through a lot of tough times before finding a loving home. Much like people, some of them have their issues. Before sitting down to watch this DVD set, I'd never before seen "Cesar Millan: Dog Whisperer", which gets to the root of the problem by simply watching the owner interact with their pet and/or taking in information about an incident and what happened afterwards. The guy isn't a psychic and doesn't likely have all the answers (some cases take more time), but he's obviously skilled and experienced at training dogs to break a cycle of poor behavior (or obsessive behavior) or work out behaviorial trouble that could be related to a past injury or other issue. Millan has a dog center in Los Angeles where nearly 40 abandoned dogs - some of them formerly tough - get along in a very calm manner with one another.

The fourth season brings more problematic pooches, but does the unthinkable: it changes the priceless title sequence (which was incredibly corny and had Milan running out of fog with his pack of dogs (a sequence that was parodied beautifully by "South Park" in the episode "Tsst", where Milan came to "fix" Cartman's bad behavior.) While the title sequence has been changed (it's now a more generic set of clips of Milan helping dogs), the episodes follow the same format: Millan sits down with the owners to chat about the problem, then goes about trying to come up with a solution for the dog's behavior, which occasionally involve Caesar's dogs serving as examples for the troubled dog.

As with prior seasons, Milan also manages to visit with a few celebs throughout the season to help with their animal problems. This season, Milan visits with the late Ed McMahon to help him with a terrifying terrier who has attacked his assistants and has caused other people to stop visiting the house. Once again, Milan manages to survey the environment that the dogs are living in and correct both the dog problem and the human problem. While it's a little dismaying for the assistants to hear that they have to change given that they're the ones who have to walk on eggshells around the dog, their change in the way they approach the dog does make a significant difference.

Milan has his work cut out for him during the episodes in this season set, such as in the previously unaired segment in this set, "The Monster of Manhattan", where a Ford Fitness model talks about how her little four pound puppy creates a serious commotion throughout the streets of Manhattan as he has a barking problem (even in a building that's not supposed to have dogs.) Remarkably, all it takes is two of Milan's signature "Tsst!'s for the dog to chill out. Interesting that Milan asks her, "How long have you known the dog?" instead of, "How long have you owned the dog?" This is a nice segment and offers an enjoyable look at dog control in the city - it's too bad it wasn't included in an episode.

Other highlights include: "Anti-Social Sascha", where Cesar has to help a pair owners who have a dog that gets along great with its owners, but acts so poorly at the local dog park that the owners risk being booted from the park; the sad story of Binkey, who was born without front legs, but won't use a wheelchair and the pairing of "Hudson and Orchid" - Caesar previously made peace between Violet and Hudson, but newcomer Orchid is trying to take over the territory now that Violet is gone. Caesar also revisits some of his past cases - both in the 100th episode and in the special, "Life Changing Stories".

These aren't all people at the end of their patience with their dog. They're people who really love their pet and are saddened by their inability get along well with their dog and really don't want to be forced to give them up. While fun, the series can seem a little repetitive (remarkably, this set includes the 100th episode of the show) after a while, and it would be interesting to see the show open out a bit (maybe a few international episodes?), although I don't know how much one can vary the core concept up. Still, some of the stories are interesting and it's often moving to see the owner no longer frustrated by having to try to figure out how to get through to their troubled pooch.

This first volume of the fourth season includes episodes 1-17 of the season, as well as the 100th episode as an extra.


VIDEO: "Dog Whisperer" is presented by Screen Media in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the show's original aspect ratio. Aside from some minor shimmering at times, the presentation quality looked quite nice. Sharpness and detail were mostly very good, although there were a few somewhat softer moments at times.

Aside from the shimmering, there were really no issues to note - no edge enhancement, no pixelation and no wear or other concerns with the source material. Colors looked bright and vivid, with no smearing or other problems.

SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack had no concerns, as dialogue, music and other sounds were crisp and never sounded distorted or otherwise problematic.

EXTRAS: "Monster of Manhattan" deleted segment, "Co-Worker Dogs" deleted segment and some very funny bloopers. The 100th episode - which includes celebrity congrats, new clips and revisits with old cases - is also included as an extra.

Final Thoughts: Yet again, Milan manages to work magic with a set of problematic pooches who seem beyond help. The DVD set provides a few nice supplements, as well as fine audio/video quality. Recommended for fans.

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