Reality shows continue to dominate the airwaves, largely from the standpoint that they've managed to attract audiences and keep the costs down for the network. However, at some point audiences will likely start to tire of the same old shows season in/season out, or networks milking franchises for all they're worth and then some (does "Storage Wars" really need yet another spin-off?)
Eight seasons in, "Duck Dynasty" manages to still get the occasional chuckle, but the formula has started to noticeably wear thin. 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.)
The other concern with the series is that it was never a particularly deep concept to begin with. The series always did feel at least a little forced in its attempts to create "plots" and "drama" for episodes, but eight seasons in, the series feels like it's straining for ideas on where to go. As I've said in the past, given A & E's desire to spin off as many things as possible from every franchise they've created, it's surprising to me that they've not gone in different directions with the series, including a business show geared towards funding outdoors start-ups - a nature-focused "Shark Tank", in other words, complete with special guests from big sporting goods chains.
Surprisingly, the series continues to focus the least amount of attention on the one element that's the most interesting: the business itself. What started as a series that showed more of how the family tried to balance unexpected success with home life now feels much more generic. Given that the 8th season is a shortened one, perhaps the series will start to head towards a conclusion (although I'm guessing it wants to cross that 100 episode mark for syndication.)
The short 8th season really hasn't reinvented the wheel when it comes to the show's formula. Episodes include things like a tennis match ("Pit Perfect"), a bowling match ("Search and Decoy"), a golf match ("Grooming the Groom") and much focus on the upcoming engagement of John Luke, which - of course - makes for the perfect season finale episode. Oh but wait: that longer episode isn't available here and will apparently be released on another DVD next year. A & E is clearly trying to milk every last bit from the series and it's a more than a bit ridiculous.
84. 8-1 24 Jun 15 Grooming The Groom
85. 8-2 01 Jul 15 Induckpendence Day
86. 8-3 08 Jul 15 Search N' Decoy
87. 8-4 15 Jul 15 Wild Wild Pest
88. 8-5 22 Jul 15 Pranks For Everything
89. 8-6 29 Jul 15 Bachelor Party Blowout
90. 8-7 05 Aug 15 The Ducket List
91. 8-8 12 Aug 15 Pit Perfect
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: Deleted scenes.
Final Thoughts: At this point, with a shorter season and dismaying DVD release, this season of "Duck" is really for hardcore fans who are looking to complete their collection only.