"A & E" has become something of a reality powerhouse in recent years. Despite arguments about the quality of programming heading South (which I'm not going to argue with, especially given how cable networks often seem as if their latest idea is to create carbon copies of prior ones - "Storage Wars New York" continues to dilute a franchise that's already become watered down), 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. I'm waiting for the episode where the family rings the bell at the NYSE with a legion of ducks waddling around the trading floor.
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 in the slightest despite their success, and often spend time trying to figure out how to stay ahead of a business that continues to be more successful than they could have imagined.
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.)
I'm a little curious how long the concept can be drawn out, but the series does really have one good concept and tries to mine as much as it can: how does a normal, hardworking family manage to keep it together while responding to the demands of a business that is growing at a rate that it becomes almost difficult to stay ahead of it. The other aspect of the series that I continue to enjoy are the more sincere moments - while the majority of the series is goofy, occasionally there's a heartfelt moment or lesson that feels genuine.
As successful as the business was before the show, I can only imagine how much more success the brand has seen since the show started and has become a hit. If anything, the series appears to have picked up steam in the second season, as ratings continued to increase throughout the season - the one-hour season finale this time around was A & E's highest-rated show in the network's history.
The show is at its best when it provides a balance of work and family and some of the highlights from this season include: "Samurai Si" (Si has to quackly - har har, I made that one up - find a way to repair a sword that was given to Willie by a business associate), "Good Morning West Monroe" (Everything is going well on the radio for Willie until he brings Uncle Si on), season finale "Redneck Christmas" (Willie plays Santa at the local church until - as with many episodes, Si causes trouble), "Drag Me to Glory" (the gang gets to hang out with NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer) and "Fowl Play" (When Jase breaks into Willie's office, Willie decides to install a security camera.)
16 2-01 10/Oct/12 The Grass & The Furious
17 2-02 10/Oct/12 Driving Miss Sadie
18 2-03 17/Oct/12 Truck Commander
19 2-04 17/Oct/12 Si'yonara
20 2-05 24/Oct/12 Fowl Play
21 2-06 24/Oct/12 Sweatin' Bullets
22 2-07 07/Nov/12 Spring Pong Cleaning
23 2-08 07/Nov/12 Good Morning, West Monroe
24 2-09 14/Nov/12 Samurai Si
25 2-10 14/Nov/12 Of Matresses and Men
26 2-11 28/Nov/12 Duck No We Won't Go
27 2-12 28/Nov/12 Drag Me to Glory
28 2-13 05/Dec/12 I'm Dreaming of a Redneck Christmas
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: 9 deleted scenes - nothing of particular interest, but may be fun for fans. Given the audience, I'd think that there would be some demand for additional extra features beyond a few scenes from the cutting room floor.
FINAL THOUGHTS: "Duck Dynasty" may eventually get too familiar, but for now, the series is on a roll, with another season of entertaining episodes and high ratings. Recommended.