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Counting Cars: Season Two - 1

A&E Video // Unrated // October 15, 2013
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 2, 2014 | E-mail the Author
"Pawn Stars" certainly has become a huge hit for the History Channel, not only collecting solid ratings for the network, but spawning a series of shows both entertaining ("Counting Cars", "American Restoration") and amusing but uninspired ("Cajun Pawn Stars"). History isn't done yet trying to squeeze more juice out of "Pawn", staring a UK version at the end of 2013.

"Pawn" follows the Harrison family - Richard ("Old Man") Harrison, Rick Harrison, Corey Harrison. They're joined by Corey's childhood friend, Chumlee, and other cast, er - employees. The series follows the employees as they encounter customers who bring in rare and exotic (and sometimes weird) items to sell. When the employees run into difficulty regarding knowledge of an item, they call on a series of experts - in the case of cars, they call on Danny Koker, of the Vegas auto restoration shop, "Count's Kustoms".

The series is at a bit of a disadvantage compared to the other shows due to the narrow focus, but still comes across as a light, entertaining and occasionally quite informative reality series. In the instance of both "American Restoration" and "Count's Kustoms", one of the most impressive aspects of the series is the sourcing - it's remarkable how the shop manages to find rare parts for equally rare cars.

Of course - whether emphasized for effect or not - there's often deadlines for the cars to be completed that the gang at the shop finds themselves bumping right up against. While the time frame adds tension in every episode, the other key of the series is the creativity on display. In "Size Matters", Danny and crew have to figure out how to make a bike for their physically challenged friend and the result is both remarkably imaginative and emotional as the customer can finally hit the open road like he's always wanted. A great deal of fun is "Soap Box", which sees the crew try to build a classic ... soap box racer. "You Talkin' to Me?" (Danny helps a DeNiro impressionist with a new ride) and "Count's Cryptonite" (Danny gets a tremendous offer for one of his prized cars) are also highlights.

One of the more interesting elements of the series - and one that's slightly "American Pickers" in a way - is the leads. Danny and his crew occasionally find jobs in unexpected places, offering owners quick cash for their rides that become the shop's next major project. No engine, no problem - they'll handle that later. These random meetings are likely staged to some degree, but if not, Danny shows little concern about tailing people on the road and cheerfully asking them to pull over so that he can take a look at their car.

"Counting Cars" offers up another similarly rag-tag bunch of supporting players who work in the shop. I'll say I didn't even expect to like this show - I've always been impressed with Danny's work on "Pawn Stars", but it seemed like another instance of a cable network trying to strip mine a franchise ("Pawn Stars" in this case) for every last bit of of possible material and I wasn't sure there was going to be enough there there.

One of the least interesting episodes of the season does actually feel a little bit much like an obvious cross-over, as "Chumlee's Challenge" sees the "Butthead-like" cast member from "Pawn" come to finally pay for the work that he was going to have done to a car that he brought in a while back (" mean I have to like, pay for it?") While the work that Danny does for Chumlee is exceptional... enough Chumlee schtick (in "Pawn", as well.)

I continue to find the series to be a pleasant surprise - it's zippy, brisk and well-structured, with episodes generally offering a nice balance of work done in the shop and following after the crew as they search for new projects and parts. It's also - at least not yet - beginning to feel repetitive.

This set unfortunately only includes the first half of the second season.

14 2-01 201 09/Apr/13 You Talkin' To Me?
15 2-02 202 09/Apr/13 Size Matters
16 2-03 203 16/Apr/13 Soap Box
17 2-04 204 16/Apr/13 Really Sweet 16
18 2-05 205 23/Apr/13 Dream On
19 2-06 206 23/Apr/13 Rockabilly Roadster
20 2-07 207 30/Apr/13 Old School
21 2-08 208 30/Apr/13 To Die For
22 2-09 209 07/May/13 Muscle Memory
23 2-10 210 07/May/13 Count's Cryptonite
24 2-11 211 28/May/13 Chumlee's Challenge
25 2-12 212 28/May/13 Not So Pretty in Pink
26 2-13 213 04/Jun/13 Day of Judgment

VIDEO/AUDIO: The series is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality isn't as slick and shiny as the cars the group works on, but it's more than pleasing. The picture looks crisp and clean, with good detail and only a couple of slight moments of softness. No shimmering or other faults were spotted and colors looked pretty bright and vivid. Audio was fine, with crisp dialogue but not a great deal of activity.

EXTRAS: About 20 minutes of deleted scenes. Once again, while these scenes are fun to have for fans, the show works as well as it often does because it's tightly edited and brisk.

Final Thoughts: While it doesn't reinvent the series or build upon it, "Counting Cars" continues to roll on. The series is once again quite entertaining as is, with another set of remarkable tasks for the customs shop to face. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but minimal extras. Recommended.
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