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Counting Cars: Season 2 - Vol 2

A&E Video // Unrated // January 21, 2014
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 20, 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. As the series goes on, I think that's actually one of the things that it should delve more deeply into - I'd love to see an episode that really gets into Danny's networking and show what it really takes to find a rare part for a rare car. The series is a good balance of personalities and cars, but I think a "behind-the-scenes" episode that focuses entirely on how the shop really runs would be interesting for viewers - an episode that goes into all of the aspects of the shop that don't really get touched on in the series.

Along those same lines, there was an episode recently where Danny had a choice between spending an exceptional amount of money on replacement parts for a car that he was working on or spending a little bit of money to use a 3D printer to print replicas of the parts. While Danny wanted the real thing, it was an interesting look at how technology may lead to substantial changes in the business down the road. Does it get to a point where rare car parts suppliers have to compete with people who can just print a replica?

Of course - whether emphasized for effect or not (and this goes back into the idea of a "behind-the-scenes" episode - how long does a project really take?) - 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. 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.

Some of the highlights in this group of episodes (which are the back half of the second season, which was doubled in size from the short first season run) include "One Love, One Car" and "Marleymobile" (the crew try to restore Bob Marley's last car, at the request of his son) and "Van Haulin" (Danny and the crew help restore a cool VW van.)

"Counting Cars" offers up another similarly rag-tag bunch of supporting players who work in the shop. The series has tried to give some of the supporting players a spotlight as the series has gone on and while that's not a bad idea, what I would like is more focus on their talent than wacky personalities.

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.

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. The series hasn't really tried to reinvent the wheel or change things up considerably, but the series continues to roll along as long as it continues to find great cars and stories.

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

27 2-14 04/Jun/13 Psychedelic Cycle
28 2-15 11/Jun/13 Change of Heart
29 2-16 11/Jun/13 Super Nova
30 2-17 18/Jun/13 One Love, One Car
31 2-18 18/Jun/13 The Marleymobile
32 2-19 09/Jul/13 Floodpocalypse Now
33 2-20 09/Jul/13 The Horn Ultimatum
34 2-21 16/Jul/13 Haunted Hog
35 2-22 16/Jul/13 Zombie Truck
36 2-23 23/Jul/13 Tour de Pants
37 2-24 23/Jul/13 Special Delivery
38 2-25 30/Jul/13 Van Haulin
39 2-26 30/Jul/13 The Car Hoarder

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: Deleted scenes. Some fun moments, but nothing that really is worthwhile to the point where it should have been back in the episodes.

Final Thoughts: While it doesn't reinvent the series or build upon it, "Counting Cars" still works as long as it finds great stories and cool cars. 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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