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Still Crazy After All These Years!
on February 18, 2009
I have been a long-time fan of Bullsh^t for all five (now six) years and, as a long-time fan, I am rather ambivalent about this latest season. I agree with the positive reviewers that Penn & Teller's show is still capable of packing a mighty wallop against insane ideas like exorcism and toxicity cleansing. On the other hand, I sympathize with the negative reviewers who note that the show has gone down hill, and what used to be an intellectual show with humor has turned into a humorous show with smatterings of intellectual argument.
I will start off with the better episodes: the episodes rebuking Americans with Disabilities Act, anti-immigration policies, and anti-Walmart stances were phenomenal! While some episodes in this season are intellectually "light weight," these two were of "first season quality." The shows did a great job refuting the key arguments of the opposition, and showing the superiority of P&T's more libertarian approaches (capitalism is generally more efficient and cost-effective than coercion).
The episodes on exorcism and toxic cleansing were good for a different reason. These episodes were closer to those in the first and second season, where we were able to have a good laugh at some easy targets. Yes, P%T refute these notions, but they are easy targets to refute. Unlike the episodes noted in the previous paragraph, the fun of these two episodes was less in the argument than in the exposee.
A lot of the rest of these episodes, though, were less than good. Penn and Teller try to refute the use of hybrid cars by showing that they they are small and a bit slower than standard cars (that they are more energy efficient, P&T very quietly acknowledge). P&T try to refute the idea - that no one I know of actually holds - that the four presidents on Mount Rushmore were saints. These episodes seriously lacked intellectual argumenmt and even though I agree with P&T's position on most things, I still found myself spotting easy holes in arguments they made. (For instance, while they are against government regulation in many episodes, they are against anger management coaches, in part, because they are unregulated?!)
Overall, then, I give this set 3 of 5 stars. This is nowhere near the first two seasons' quality, but is a step up from some of the most recent seasons. Penn and Teller may be getting a little rusty with age, but they are still very watchable.