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MTV's Punk'd - The Complete Second Season

Paramount // Unrated // October 12, 2004
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 10, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Ashton Kutcher's hidden camera show Punk'd celebrates the torture and humiliation of his celebrity pals. With the first season racking up pretty impressive numbers on home video and a fourth season looming on the horizon at MTV, I guess that means it's time to dump season two on DVD. This 2-disc set collects all eight episodes from Punk'd's second season, including...

Episode One
  • Bling Bling Bling: A mix-up at a jewelry store pops Missy Elliott's diamond-studded necklace into the hands of a courier, and Missy threatens to trash the place if she doesn't get her bling back now.
  • Driving School: Hillary Duff takes her first driving lesson, and her helpful instructor B.J. shows her how to handle some stressful driving situations. Hillary doesn't completely agree: "I think I would have never gotten out of my car and hit him with a Smoothie and a baseball bat." The drivers of the not-really-battered, milkshaken car come back for revenge and carjack Hillary.
  • Shoplifting Shakedown: Usher's called in to bail his brother out when he's caught shoplifting women's clothing, and when the manager realizes who Usher is, he decides that maybe they could work things out with a radio spot.
Episode Two
  • Crash Test Nick / Crash Test Tommy: Ghetto-fabulous Backstreet Boy Nick Carter tries to convince his pal Tommy Lee that they've gotten involved in a surreal hit-and-run while fleeing from some paparazzi. Oh, and since Nick doesn't have the cool cachet to avoid being punked, the Punk'd crew pull the same gag on him during a rehearsal.
  • Vibe This: During a photo shoot with a ravenous tiger, a hundred thousand dollars of jewelry that fun-sized rapper Bow Wow was wearing disappears.
Episode Three
  • Charity Lunch Date: A borderline-psychotic fan hocks all his worldy possessions to go on a date with pop star Mya, who's obviously been singing about her complete and total adoration of him for the past five years.
  • Director's Suite: Katie Holmes has a meeting at McG's Hollywood home, and she gets caught in the middle of a lovers' squabble when she tries to cover up for the director's infidelities.
  • Repossessed: Tracy Morgan, after making the fifty foot drive from the TV studio to his favorite club, finds his Jaguar being towed all the way to Barstow.
Episode Four
  • Shopping Spree for Free: The skeletal Lara Flynn Boyle goes on an orgasmic shopping spree and then finds out...whoops! She's expected to pay for that stuff. Appalling!
  • Roadside Assistance: Ashanti is saddled with an obnoxious driver and a shoddy Escalade on her way to an early morning flight, but a sunny bus driver shuttling around an Asian tour group comes to her rescue.
  • Get Outta My Jacuzzi: Omarion is accused of fooling around with some mobster-type's underage daughter.
Episode Five
  • Senior Waiter: Rachael Leigh Cook is stuck with a kindly old waiter who can't seem to clue into the fact that she's a vegetarian. The restaurant's manager apologizes profusely, then violently beats some sense into the waitstaff.
  • Gothika Premiere: Stiff fire code regulations leave Halle Berry shut out of the premiere for her own movie.
  • Bend and Cough: Taye Diggs gets a homoerotic physical as he gears up for a movie shoot in Africa.
Episode Six
  • Candlelight Dinner: Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker takes his girlfriend out for a nice dinner, quickly discovering that their overaffectionate waiter is Shanna's former flame.
  • Sweaty Lingerie: Jaime Pressly starts to show off how her new clothing line is being made for a business interview, but when she pulls in, the place is shut down by the authorities for being a sweatshop.
  • Red Carpet: A Filipino writer from Entertainment Weekly International chats it up with the celebs on the red carpet with the help of a completely inept translator.
Episode Seven
  • Money Man into Thin Air: BMX star Dave Mirra is busted for fraud when his business partners rip off companies to the tune of a couple million in endorsements.
  • Car in Window: Outkast get a 4 AM call that the $375K ride they rented for a party in the Hollywood Hills has wound up plowed through a storefront window.
  • His Name is Cuddles: Joan of Arcadia's Amber Tamblyn agrees to watch a Yorkshire Terrier while her owner pops into a restaurant, but she mistakenly returns the overpriced pup to the wrong person.
Episode Eight
  • Limo Driver: A driver pops into a store for a second to pick up a gift for his wife, who's expected to give birth in a matter of minutes. While he's away, an unwitting Lindsey Lohan gives away his Lincoln Towncar.
  • X-Mas Tree: Beyonce Knowles is horrified when she sends a monstrous Christmas tree plummeting to the ground, smashing the Christmas gifts for a bunch of underprivileged kids.
  • Chopper Test Drive: Goldberg watches helplessly as his spiffed-up motorcycle explodes when an out of control truck runs over it. Well, the bike explodes, anyway.
"Is there any animosity between you and Salma Hayek for being the top Mexican actress?"
I really liked the first season of Punk'd, but the second season doesn't hit those same heights. First of all, the selection of celebrities is a lot less interesting. It's a mixed bag -- the pranks on random schmucks off the street have been ditched, and it's not like they're passing particularly obscure people off as celebs either. I was a fan of, or at least kind of followed, several of the folks from the first season of Punk'd. This time around, the only person I'd really say I'm a fan of is Rachael Leigh Cook. There's also no one I dislike enough to really want to see humiliated on national TV. Sure, reaction to any stable of celebs is going to vary from viewer to viewer, but for me, it's two scoops of indifference and kinda B-list compared to the previous season. It's obvious why actors from the first batch of episodes like Dax Shepard and Al Shearer couldn't come back for season two -- they're recognizable enough now that their presence would be a dead giveaway. Their replacements are good, but not quite as appealing. (Well, eventual Stuff Mag model Jill Wagner is appealing, but in a different, naughtier way.) There are only a few really stand-out pranks, particularly the Hillary Duff, Mya, and Katie Holmes segments. Others are impressively staged, like the Outkast jab, and the "real-life action movie" description Ashton Kutcher tosses out isn't entirely hyperbole. "Impressively staged" doesn't necessarily equate to "funny", especially when it drags on for as long as this one does. A lot of the basic premises are kind of bland compared to the first season, and there are a couple of retreads, such as shoplifting and "hey, that expensive thing I really, really like is missing or being taken away from me." The fourth episode is pretty much laughless, a first for the series.

I think Punk'd is a lot more compelling when it tries to put celebrities in awkward or embarrassing situations. This season seems to put a little more emphasis on being confrontational or just pissing people off. I mean, it's still interesting to see how celebrities act under pressure without the filter of playing for a camera or an audience -- seeing who whips out the "Superstar" card, who's particularly polite and respectful, who's a jackass, and who's a dimwit. It's tough to walk away from the Outkast segment and not think Andre 3000 is one of the coolest people to ever walk the planet. It's also hard not to love Hillary Duff's valley girl vapidity. "But I think we were parked at a stop sign for a really long time, like longer than three seconds, like thirty seconds, like you told me to put the car in park and that wasn't right to do, and he honked at us which is what most people do when you're parked at a stop sign for thirty seconds." Pretend every comma in there is a question mark, too. I guess I look at Punk'd as being a comedy at its core, and this season just isn't as funny. Before, both the celebrities and the actors behind the pranks managed to be hysterical. Here, the celebs seem much more like straightmen (which, I mean, they'd are and would have to be, but...), and a disproportionate number of the laughs come from the Punk'd cast. It seems like the funniest parts aren't the celebrities' reactions or the pranks themselves, but random one-liners from the actors, and that's not really the way a show like this should be. Don't get me wrong -- this is still a good season of a funny show, but when you're following a great season of a hysterical show, being "good" doesn't seem good enough.

And yeah, even though it's technically a season set, this is an MTV series, meaning that more than a third of its original runtime was dedicated to commercials. These episodes average nineteen minutes and change a piece, so even though the word "season set" probably brings to mind six-disc boxed sets and weekend-long marathons, the entire second season of Punk'd runs right about the same length as Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. At least MTV has priced it like a movie instead of a TV box set, and the three and a half hours of extras piled on make it more worth a purchase instead of just a Saturday late night rental.

Video: All eight episodes are presented full-frame, and there isn't a particularly noticeable difference between the way these episodes looked on MTV and how they appear on DVD. The image quality varies throughout due to so many different types of cameras being used, but there are no problems worth noting, and I didn't spot any compression or authoring hiccups. One change from the original broadcasts is that some of the censoring has been dropped out. No more blurring around the many middle fingers that pop up, and...was Tommy Lee's ass pixelated before? I can't remember, but it isn't blurred out now.

Audio: As was the case with the first season of Punk'd, this two-disc set sports Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (192Kbps), and again, it's mostly uncensored. Yup, almost all of the profanity is intact, and if you ever wanted to hear your favorite celebrity say "fuck" twelve different ways, here's your chance. This makes Deadwood look meek by comparison, and as someone who embraces profanity in everyday conversation, I'm all for it. A couple of pranks have still been battered by the censor hammer, including a few lines during McG's tirade and part of Travis Barker's candlelight dinner. A few others, like Omarion's, have the profanity uncensored, but it lurks a lot lower in the mix. But anyway, the actual recordings are about as good as can be expected for a hidden camera show, since you can't exactly pin on a lapel mic or have a boom mic hanging overhead. There aren't any major problems with intelligibility or anything, which is all that really matters for a show like this. Oh, and there aren't any subtitles or closed captions, by the way.

Supplements: Each episode is accompanied by audio commentary from Ashton Kutcher, Ahmed Ahmed, Steve Rannazzisi, and producer Jason Goldberg (no, not the wrestler). I really enjoyed the commentaries on the previous set, but like the second season as a whole, these tracks are good, but noticeably inferior to the prior season. For one, they aren't as talkative, with chunks of dead-air popping up periodically. On the previous set, Dax and Ashton seemed to talk about whatever came to mind, even if it had absolutely no relation to what was happening on-screen. Some reviewers might leap into multiparagraph tirades about that how unacceptable that is, but I thought that was part of what made the commentaries on the first season set so great. The commentaries this time around leap onto random tangents too -- shaving body hair in its entirety, why Ashton will never go back to South Carolina, compiling a list of the hottest women on the planet (taking care to note Nicole Kidman and "fire in the hole") -- but they just seem to run out of things to say every once in a while. Some of the topics they cover include Ashton having to fend off the cops in the Missy Elliott bit, a passerby trying to shoot the faux-carjackers, counting the wrinkles in Katie Holmes' forehead, Lara Flynn Boyle's complete comfort with being topless around men she assumes to be gay, and Ashton encouraging viewers to count the number of times he leers at Halle Berry's rack. They also play a 'Word of the Day' game to see who can say "womb" the most, but when they run out of uses for 'womb', they switch to 'cleft', 'chafe', 'karma', 'ecstasy', and briefly consider 'vortex'. So, yeah. They're still a fun listen, but the commentaries on the first season set spoiled me.

Most of the extras are packed onto disc two, beginning with deleted scenes from twenty-three segments, running nearly forty minutes in total. That's way too much to list in detail, but some of the highlights include B.J. telling Mya about his brother Leftie, investigators tooling around on one of Dave Mirra's bikes, more footage of Amber Tamblyn bawling, and shots from the booth of Ashton and Jason trying to salvage something from the Goldberg bit. One of my favorite parts was this excerpt from the Hillary Duff prank, taken completely out of context:
B.J.: "Now have you done any parallel parking?"
Hillary: "Ummm...yeah, but I hit a couple trash cans."
B.J.: "What if the trash cans were people? How would you feel about yourself?"
Hillary: "I wouldn't feel very good."
B.J.: "What if they were old people?"
Hillary: "Fuck old people, right?"
Thankfully, we're spared a glimpse of Lara Flynn Boyle baring it all. Each individual scene gets its own chapter stop, and the footage is broken up by episode. These can also be viewed individually, consecutively, or reincorporated via branching into each episode.

There are also a couple of unaired segments. The first, "Shearer Embarrassment" (6:18), is kinda lame. A miffed boyfriend wants to know why his fiancee has former Punker Al Shearer's jewelry draped over her. Nothing really that funny-slash-interesting happens, and it's pretty much a retread of the Omarion/jacuzzi routine anyway. Much, much better is "EMA Green Carpet" (5:33), which has a couple of kids selling candy on the 'green carpet' at the Environmental Media Awards. They're trying to drum up some cash alongside an obnoxious reporter played by Steve, who jokes about the irony of a fellow reporter bringing a leather bag to an environmentally-conscious event and inquiring about the threat of cloned duckbill platypi overtaking North America. This segment is better than a lot of what made the final cut, and it should definitely have wound up on the air. Among the celebrities pestered are Amy Smart, James Van Der Beek, Jeffrey Tambor, Danica McKellar, Alanis Morissette, and Buzz Aldrin (!).

"The Making of Punk'd: Outkast" (9:03) shows the scale and scope of this elaborate setup, from the initial stages of planning to dumping the $369,000 car off the rollback. Finally, "Punk Your Friend" lets viewers play a little gag on their friends, beginning like a normal episode of Punk'd before devolving into a snowy sea of pornography. All the usual DVD remote buttons are disabled, and the only way to skip past it is to enter a certain button combination or wait for Ashton to finish moaning about how big and hard 'it' is. Oh, and there are plugs for other MTV DVD sets, including Wildboyz, Viva La Bam, Jackass, and the first season of Punk'd. These open the first disc in the set and can be viewed optionally on the second DVD.

Each disc includes a set of 4x3 animated menus, and like the first season, Ashton berates viewers who take too long to make a menu selection. Each prank is given its own chapter stop, and these episodes can be viewed individually or played all at once.

Conclusion: Although the second season of Punk'd isn't as consistently funny as the first eight episodes of the series, there are still enough laughs to make it worth picking up for fans of the show. The mostly uncensored audio, the sheer number of extras, and a reasonable list price make a purchase a little easier to swallow too. Recommended.

Related Reviews: DVD Talk also has reviews of the first season of Punk'd, if you're bored.
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