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Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t - The Complete Fourth Season
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The fourth season of this award-winning series featuring master showmen Penn & Teller, delivers viewers an aggressive, humorous exposé of taboo topics, using the duos trademark humor, knowledge of carnival tricks as well as hidden cameras and blatant confrontation. Winner of the prestigious 2004 and 2005 Writers Guild Award for Best Comedy/Variety Series and nominated the last three years for the Emmy® for Outstanding Reality Program and Outstanding Writing for Non Fiction Programming, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! continues its controversial muckraking throughout season three by confronting many of the institutions society holds dear.
Libertarians may rejoice over the release of Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t -- The Complete Fourth Season, another collection of Showtimes provocative series debunking popular theories and so-called conventional wisdom. Hosted with an infectious sneer by skeptic-magicians Penn & Teller, Bullsh*t takes on issues of varying levels of seriousness and controversy, puncturing both liberal and conservative arguments whenever they seem, to the sarcastic hosts, specious. The Complete Fourth Season kicks things off with a swift kick to the Boy Scouts, who are shown no mercy for enforcing discriminatory policies against gays and atheists while thriving on government funding at all levels: federal, state, and local. Bullsh*t visits with paragons of Scout virtue who were nevertheless kicked out for being homosexual, but the episode does something more: It deflates the very notion that the Scouts are even important to the teaching of survival skills as well as wholesome values. Following that is a rather eye-opening show about prostitution, and why sex-trade workers can't always be described as slaves. An obligatory, though fun, visit to a brothel in Nevada (where prostitution is regulated by the state) is complemented by a day spent with a 25-year-old student paying her tuition through sex sessions with upscale clients. But there's pretty serious stuff, too, in the form of activist arguments on all sides of the debate about prostitution's alleged threat to humankind.
The series takes time out for silliness with "Cryptozoology," the arguably bogus "science" of studying (using no actual evidence) the likes of the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and every other mythical creature described through dubious eyewitness reports or blurry video. An especially funny episode, "Cryptozoology" follows the feckless wanderings of so-called experts who seem more adept at buying equipment than actually using it. An interesting change-of-pace is "Manners," in which the popular perception that Americans are more rude today than they were a century ago is attacked as ridiculous, given that people routinely urinated in the street at the end of the 19th century. An etiquette expert shows us which fork to use when eating a salad, but the overall idea here is that only a handful of manners are necessary for getting through life. Three other, very serious subjects are drenched in sarcasm. One is New York Citys inability to get it together on rebuilding the Ground Zero site. The episode tracks the many instances of overreaching and mishandling the delicate task, and finds that even a national tragedy doesnt mean the best intentions of government are free from screw-ups. In another episode about reparations, the question of whether America owes money to the descendants of African slaves and Indians is dissected with a wink. Penn and Teller also take on abstinence in a program that looks at whether sex education works, and wonder why it is that something that reduces stress and feels good the way sex does is so demonized. --Tom Keogh
- All 10 episodes from the 2006 Season on 3 discs
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Top customer reviews
It's worth watching if you're binging the entire series. It's just not a season that you'll look back on and really remember much of.
The highlight of the season is probably the Manners episode. It's not a subject that most people had a lot of anger about prior to watching, but it was fun to watch Penn & Teller make 'manners experts' look like pompous douches. There's always entertainment value in that sort of thing.
At this point some of the episodes are dated. But in other cases I find Penn and Teller's analysis to be on-point. They always grab an expert or two to bolster their argument, although they tend to use the craziest people they can find who believe in the nonsense being disproved in the episode.
All in all, it's a very entertaining show. And with eight seasons to sift through, there are hours and hours of it to keep you watching for quite a long time.
They go about their work methodically and give both sides' arguments to an issue. They then systematically destroy the arguments of the side they disagree with. This is usually done with a lot of sarcasm and contempt but there are exceptions. They do not try to gratuitously hurt people who are not trying to take advantage of others. If people are trying to take advantage, they take no prisoners.
Episode synopses appear below:
Boy Scouts - I really wanted to take exception with this one because I am a big fan of the BSA. Unfortunately, some things hit home. The BSA discriminates against gays and against atheists. Even P&T agree that, as a private organization, they have the right to set their own membership guidelines. The problem comes from the unique federal charter. The BSA does get tax payer support in some areas. They have a habit of claiming to be a private organization when that suits them and claiming to be entitled to public funds when that suits them. They need to decide who and what they are.
Prostitution - This is another episode where I have to agree with them on principle even though I don't want to. They argue that the criminalization of prostitution cause many more problems than it solves. As usual, they interview people on both sides of the issue. Unusually, they are fairly respectful of most. Their arguments are several. Prostitution will exists, whether legal or illegal; legalization will get rid of many of the abuses. Their biggest argument, though, is that big brother has no business telling people what two consenting adults can do: if you don't like it, don't do it.
Death Penalty - These two are vehemently opposed to the death penalty. These guys are starting to hack me off. Again, I find myself opposed to their point of view and again I find that they have made some very good points. The point I would agree with them the most one is this: Once innocent person executed by mistake is too many. Their arguments are well reasoned and well presented. Again, a big one is the idea of trusting the government to get it right. On the other side, there are some vermin out there I would lose no sleep over exterminating...but, most importantly, I would have to be convinced beyond any doubt at all that there is no mistake.
Cryptozoology - It's fake. That's the gist of it. The people who go out looking for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and such are either charlatans or extremely gullible.
Ground Zero - This is one that can really make the blood boil. It concerns the inept efforts to rebuild something on the site of the World Trade Center. It is a story of corruption, incompetence and politicians out for their own ends instead of those of their constituents. In other words, it is situation normal.
Pet Love - Lots of people love their animals. Some people take it to extremes and do really silly things, spending inordinate amounts of money. Some are...crazy. This episode looks at a lot of them.
Reparations - It seems as if every group that has ever been mistreated now expects the taxpayers to pony up and give them a free ride, even if they themselves have not been the victims. This episode looks at the reparations movement. Three cases are looked at in particular. Reparations for slavery, recognizing that the last slaves died long ago and many blacks trace their immigrant ancestors to the generations after slavery. It people making the arguments in this one are sometimes surprising. Reparations, in the form of the right to run casinos, for native Americans, examining a queer money trail. Reparations for Japanese Americans interred during WWII. The conclusions for each case are different.
Manners - Penn and Teller have no problem with treating others politely or being considerate of them; this episode is instead a rant against those who would enforce nit-picky rules of conduct that benefit nobody at the expense of ostracism. The manners police come off as self-righteous Nazis.
Numbers - People use numbers to lie. This includes con artists, politicians, pollsters, politicians, lottery officials, politicians, time share salesman, politicians, others with axes to grind and, don't forget, politicians. The numbers are truthful, it is the way they are used which is deceitful.
Abstinence - This episode looks at abstinence only sex education programs. Needless to say, they are against them. They raise some good points but they leave out one facet. For preventing pregnancy and STDs, abstinence has a 100% success rate. Of course the kicker is that when people fall off the wagon, the consequences are severe.
Only complaint would be that they typically assume a single stance on many topics and consult certain experts and studies without authenticating those experts and studies. In short, because they're seeking to establish a given viewpoint with which they already agree, they readily accept testimony from individuals that hold those same viewpoints. Certain eps are worse than others, such as those which espouse positions which really are more about opinion, such as the episode on Manners.
So some eps are good for those who might need convincing, and others are really only good for a nod-fest for those who will already agree.
Although I don't have a problem with it, they should probably clean these up (delete the cursing and nudity) to allow for a wider viewer cross section. It would allow the issues and scams discussed to be seen by a greater population.