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Swamp People Season 5

A&E Video // Unrated // January 20, 2015
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 11, 2015 | E-mail the Author
There are some shows on The History Channel where an argument can be made how much historical content they deliver - with Pawn Stars, one can point to the fact that the show's "characters" at least provide a good deal of detail about the information regarding all of the various items that find their way into the store. Still, while the History Channel has veered away from history more and more recently, it's still faring better when it comes to educational content than The Learning Channel, where no learning is taking place.

With "Swamp People", we get a title card before the episodes that informs us that "The way of life depicted in this series goes back 300 years." The way of life in this case revolves around a group of people living in the swamp who hunt gators. Hunting in general kinda goes back a ways, doesn't it?

Surprisingly there's not been a cross-over episode with "Swamp Loggers", but "Swamp People" did - not surprisingly, given what reality shows are doing these days - spawn a spin-off, "Outback Hunters", which follows hunters in the Aussie outback. The series really doesn't get much into the history of the area or the history of the activity, although it remains at least a mostly tense, involving (although a little repetitive) series.

A game designer at a popular game studio once described a highly popular game as "there was maybe 30 seconds of fun that happened over and over and over and over again. And so, if you can get 30 seconds of fun, you can pretty much stretch that out to be an entire game." While people have debated the accuracy of that statement, it does kind of fit this series - "Swamp People"'s core scenes are those tense moments out on the hunt again and again. While I've thought the series started to feel a little repetitive in the past, at season five the series does feel like it could use a little change-up more noticeably.

Essentially, the series is like any number of other dangerous jobs series (speaking of, bring back "Dirty Jobs", of which this is certainly one), covering a season of various groups of people trying to grind it out as they They have a certain number of tags ("tag 'em and bag 'em, I guess), and when they're out of tags, they're done. In this case, the series follows a series of gator hunters in the Atchafalaya Basin swamps of Louisiana. The series has switched up the participants a bit over the seasons, but the general premise remains the same.

The series bounces between different groups of gator hunters as they encounter the creatures and try to bag as many as possible. There are definitely close calls and dangerous moments (and gators that seem increasingly aggressive and intelligent, maybe they're evolving...), but the various crews eventually get their targets and it's on to the next one. There's some personal dramas and tension - the series could even stand to develop the personalities of the trappers. While it's definitely interesting to see these people throughout the hunting season, I'd be curious to see an episode or two to see what their off season looks like. The series could also fill out the episodes a with a bit more history here-and-there, as well.

Where weather was a major issue in season four, as the fifth season starts off, the hunters have an issue that they haven't before: too much of a good thing. A shortened season the year before has resulted in a "bumper crop" of gators. That means higher rates and less of a hunt to find gators. However, with a greater population comes increased dangers, both from the gators and from poachers who aren't eager to follow the rules.

Danger happens early on in the season ("Once Bitten"), when Theresa gets a nasty bite from a gator and has to sit out for a while as her hand heals. "Hexed" sees a number of the hunters stalled out by various unusual incidents and plain old bad luck, including a favorite hole covered with dead fish with no explanation. Despite a greater gator population this season, the hunters still find themselves pushing the limits in order to try and make their quota, including the decision to stay out in the middle of a thunderstorm ("Beast or Bust") and dealing with poachers ("Gator Jacked".) Not surprisingly, as the season goes down to the wire, nerves get frayed between some of the hunters as they fear they won't be able to get their allotted number of tags.

"Swamp People" keeps riding a wave of popularity as viewers love the tension of the hunt. The show continues to feel a little too familiar at times by this season, but this swamp is not yet stagnant.

71 5-01 03/Feb/14 Once Bitten
72 5-02 10/Feb/14 Aerial Assault
73 5-03 17/Feb/14 Gator Jacked
74 5-04 24/Feb/14 Gravedigger
75 5-05 03/Mar/14 The Albino Assassin
76 5-06 10/Mar/14 Hooked
77 5-07 17/Mar/14 Devil at the Door
78 5-08 24/Mar/14 Gator Ghost Town
79 5-09 31/Mar/14 Hexed
80 5-10 14/Apr/14 Rumble in the Swamp
81 5-11 21/Apr/14 Beast of the Lake
82 5-12 28/Apr/14 Way of the Swamp
83 5-13 06/May/14 Outer Limits
84 5-14 12/May/14 Blood Brothers
85 5-15 19/May/14 Swamp Ambush
86 5-16 02/Jun/14 Beasts or Bust
87 5-17 09/Jun/14 Captain Invincible
88 5-18 16/Jun/14 Unbreakable Bonds
89 5-19 23/Jun/14 Metalhead
90 5-20 30/Jun/14 Day of Reckoning
91 5-21 07/Jul/14 Lethal Encounters
92 5-22 20/Oct/14 Big Head Bites It


VIDEO: The series is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen by A & E. The presentation is decent, with acceptable sharpness and detail. The picture is certainly not fuzzy, but generally has a slightly-to-mildly soft look. Some minor shimmering and a couple of traces of pixelation are also spotted on a handful of occasions. Colors look well-saturated and generally clean, although like the rest of the transfer, not noteworthy in any way.

SOUND: Clear stereo presentation with a good deal of outdoor ambience.

EXTRAS: Deleted footage.

Final Thoughts: "Swamp People" keeps riding a wave of popularity as viewers love the tension of the hunt. The show continues to feel a little too familiar at times by this season, but this swamp is not yet stagnant. The DVD offers satisfying audio/video quality, as well as some minor extras. Fans of the series should take a look, but others who haven't seen the series should consider trying a rent first.
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