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Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t! - The First Season

4.5 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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(Mar 30, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

: Self-proclaimed pit-bulls of truth, Penn & Teller use their trademark humor, knowledge of carnival tricks, and hidden cameras to blow the lid off popular notions about second hand smoke ,self help products, diet claims, creationism, TV psychics, Feng Shui, bottled water and more!!!!

In the investigative tradition of master illusionist and early 20th-century ghostbuster Harry Houdini, magicians Penn Jillette and partner Teller debunk the paranormal in their wildly entertaining Showtime series, Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t!. The first season of this unusual show finds the garrulous Penn and silent Teller taking aim, over 13 episodes, at such perennial hokum as "Talking to the Dead," "ESP," and "Ouija Boards." But they also go after a couple of contemporary, exploitation-driven industries they believe con vulnerable people in the same way phony mediums rip off the bereaved and "regression therapists" lead on would-be alien abductees.

One of these industries is the network of charlatans promising sexual enhancement through bigger breasts or male genitals; the other is the publishing world's raging river of self-help books. But our boys don't stop there. Just to make sure each viewer comes away impeached at least once for championing a sacred cow, Penn and Teller take on creationists, anti-smokers, vegetarians, extreme environmentalists, and feng shui enthusiasts. Everyone is bound to feel a little offended at some point in this boxed set's 360 minutes, but P&T offset their indignation with wily humor and the occasional, dazzling trick.

"Talking to the Dead" doesn't dwell on Houdini's penchant for exposing the fakery behind old-fashioned seances. But it does attack today's celebrity mediums, especially the Sci-Fi Channel's John Edward, whose off-screen methods for gathering useful, private information about his audiences are revealed. "Alien Abductions" seeks reasons behind claims of extraterrestrial probing of human orifices, but saves most of Penn and Teller's wrath for those who profit from others' delusions. "Near Death Experiences" challenges assumptions about glimpsing the afterlife, and "Alternative Medicine" weighs in on the ever-sensitive subject of non-medicinal remedies for illness.

The most fun episode, by far, is "Sex, Sex, Sex," which is adorned by a lot of beautiful, naked men and women milling about while Penn and Teller chase down sundry hucksters, including a hypnotherapist who claims she can enlarge naughty bits through subconscious suggestion. This engrossing, three-disc set is rounded out by a number of delightful special features, including entertaining outtakes and a bonus "Ghost Segment." --Tom Keogh

Special Features

  • All 13 episodes plus a bonus episode ("The Ghost Segment")
  • Deleted scenes and backstage outtakes
  • James Randi interview with Penn & Teller
  • Naked promo that did not air
  • Behind the scenes
  • Wraparounds
  • Sneak peak at season 2

Product Details

  • Actors: Penn Jillette, Teller, Shera Pollins, Gene Hatcher, Joline Jaffe
  • Directors: Christopher Poole, David Wechter, Keith Cornell, Kevin Barry, R.L. Shontell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Mature Audiences Only
  • Studio: Showtime Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2004
  • Run Time: 364 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00019PDNY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,523 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Penn & Teller - Bullsh*t! - The First Season" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Melkor VINE VOICE on January 11, 2005
Format: DVD
I have mixed feelings about this series. I really like what Penn and Teller are trying to do with this show, and I tend agree with them more than I disagree. When someone is arguing a point that I agree with, I have a tendency to be even more critical of their arguments; so, I am very critical of any weak arguments that they may make. Regardless, we are in dire need of more skeptics in this society, so I am glad that this show exists.

Michael Shermer stated in his book, "Why People Believe Weird Things", two fallacies of being a skeptic. One is that when a skeptic disagrees with absolutely everything at face value, their arguments become less valuable. The other is that skeptics are often so used to arguing against others, that they forget to closely analyze their own stance; thereby not accepting the skeptics of their skepticism. This could lead to the false belief that any form of disagreement is correct, which Penn and Teller are occasionally guilty of in this series. This is the mistake of using skepticism as a dogma rather than as a scientific method.

Episode one is a great starter to the series. It exposes mediums as frauds who use techniques, much like psychics do, to hot and cold read people. The second episode on alternative medicine is one of my favorites. They informatively use science and logic to debunk reflexology, magnet therapy, and chiropractors. The Alien abduction episode was a little sad, because a lot of people who believed in it seemed lost, or searching for something more. It was really sad to see how they were exploited by people trying to milk dollars out of them.

The second hand smoke episode was interesting. The episode was not so much about debunking the idea that second hand smoke is harmful.
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Format: DVD
Master stage magicians Penn and Teller take on psychics, astrology, the environment, and a host of other questionable topics. Like the title of the show, Penn and Teller do not hesitate at all in demonstrating that the frauds, con men, and phony scientists are full of Bull Sh*t! Happily, they manage to do it with a unique style and humor that left me snorting Dr. Pepper through my nostrils. Ouch. It was worth it!
In the process of watching these programs, you will learn exactly -how- frauds and fakers pull of many of their stunts, -why- certain pseudoscientists and pseudo historians are wrong, and even -why- people are often so eager to believe and accept things at face value. While our prestidigitationator hosts are opinionated, they are always on the side of the common man (us) who so often plays the dupe to the frauds of our day.
These programs are entertainment and education rolled into one. I am not the sort of person who usually buys dvds of every series I like. This series was warrented though, and long overdue...Penn and Teller have proven themselves worthy of a place on any skeptic's shelf. Enjoy!
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Format: DVD
Penn and Teller's Bullshi*t is a much-needed voice of reason in the midst of the alarmist, emotionally charged know-nothings they spend their time debunking in this DVD series. What's included here is a 3-disc set that contains the entire first season (10 episodes) as well as some bonus features, most notably a bonus episode (about ghosts).

Initially, I caught Bullshi*t on Showtime and fell instantly in love with it. At last, here was a series dedicated to crushing the myths that draw in millions of non-thinking individuals. There was something almost vindicating about seeing them body-slam sensationalist after sensationalist with their rhetoric, even providing thinking America with some ammunition to battle our more, well...emotion-driven friends. I had only seen three or four installments on Showtime before buying the DVD and eagerly gobbling up all ten episodes.

Now that I've had some time with the series and have seen all the shows multiple times, something interesting has happened. The last episode I watched really got to me - an episode on second-hand smoke. For once, I thoroughly disagreed with Penn and Teller. The idiots that I normally found myself scoffing at - well, this time it was the hosts of the show. What I saw in that episode was Penn and Teller from the other side of the river. I saw them taking a very specific facet of an argument, thus pushing reams of data aside, and exploit it using arguments from the constitution applied to illogical extremes. Right away it started on a very shaky foot when they staged a scene of themselves in a restaurant with a noisy musician nearby, annoying them. "You're annoying us - let's legislate against you," they began, implying that second-hand smoke was on the same level of loud music, nothing more than an annoyance.
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Format: DVD
Penn and Teller tackle many subjects, including bottled water, creationism, ESP and alternative medicine. Even though they don't go into specific formal rebuttals of everything, usually there's science and research to back them up. The "Eat This!" episode was the best of the lot I think, where they talk about a man you've never heard of that's saved a billion people from starvation, and how it's rather selfish to protest the use of proven-safe GM crops in developing countries.

However this made it all the more painful to watch the last episode. They completely miss the mark when going after global warming. They ignore the arguments stemming from ice core samples and the vast array of peer reviewed scientific papers that all use different methods to come to the conclusion that the world has been warming up and will continue to warm up. And at a rate far beyond that of any natural heating that's occurred in the past. The only way in which they disagree is exactly how much, and even the lowest estimate is uncomfortably high. Using a libertarian think tank rather than a peer-reviewed journal as a source is rather dubious. It's rather sad that they've fallen for the "scientists don't agree" line here.

However it's overall an entertaining and enlightening set of DVDs. Keep your skeptic hat on for the last episode and you should be okay.
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