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Category:    Home > Reviews > Reality TV > Antiques > Prostitution > Sex > Wrestling > Exploitation > History > Geography > American Restoration – Volume One (History Channel/A&E DVD Set)/Gigolos – The First Season (Showtime/CBS DVD)/Half Pint Brawlers – Season One (Image DVD)/How The States Got Their Shapes – Season One (

American Restoration – Volume One (History Channel/A&E DVD Set)/Gigolos – The First Season (Showtime/CBS DVD)/Half Pint Brawlers – Season One (Image DVD)/How The States Got Their Shapes – Season One (History Channel/A&E DVD Set/all 2011)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D/C-/D/C+     Episodes: B/C+/C/B-



And now for the latest ups, down and twists in the reality TV market.


The best of the four here is American Restoration – Volume One, a History Channel series that is also a companion of sorts to Pawn Stars (reviewed elsewhere on this site; the starts even show up occasionally) and even when it is obviously staged, it is very informative about collectibles, valuables and the history of some really great pieces from the past and how they were produced.  Rock Dale of Rick’s Restoration (in Las Vegas) rebuilds things from top to bottom and makes sure that they work 100% before they leave his shop.  Except in rare cases where he makes variants for the customer, he rebuilds things like new.  Hot items this time out include a slot machine, Coke Machine that also offers hot dogs, Pepsi Machine, working kid’s train, coffee machine, slot machine, a safe and many other great items.  The works is exceptional and impressive making this as good as any show of its kind, so be sure to catch it.  There are no extras.



Also taking place in very different parts of Vegas is Gigolos – The First Season, a series that I thought might be a drama, but turns out to be a show about five men who work for the same agency renting their supposed sexual talents for hire.  The show is very awkward and not because of the graphic or semi-graphic sex shown.  If anything, this show makes sex sexless and how their job is not anywhere as glamorous as you might think.  Because of varying contracts we guess, some get more camera time than others and we see those men more in action than others in what is a heterosexual operation, though one of the stars actually has acted in gay dramas.  However, this wears thin very quickly and the eight half-hours here get tired very quickly.  Also, some of this was not so great to watch in any event.  The only extra is brief bios on the five guys.



Looking for sensational material the makers of Jackass: The Movie have come up with Half Pint Brawlers – Season One, about a group of four men who wrestle, but also happen to be midgets and of course, this is meant to be a celebrated ugliness and exploitive by default all the way.  To their credit, the men let their better sides show in the midst of the low road the style of this show takes, but a documentary that was a character study would have yielded a much more interesting result.  This is not meant to be good and anyone buying this knows it.  There are no extras.



Finally we have the educational series How The States Got Their Shapes – Season One from The History Channel, which 10 episodes (the first of many apparently) examining the history of how so many factors (geographical, political and otherwise) shaped the country into the states it has today and though that can be very interesting, the show stretches things out more than it should with humor, some dull moments and a host in Brian Unger who might be more jokey than he should be, but its his show.  I just wish it were more consistent.  The only extra is a special on the series of the same name on the bonus fourth DVD.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all four releases have their share of motion blur and rough video, but both Restoration and States are the smoothest and best edited of the four offerings.  There is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on all four releases with their share of location audio issues, though Restoration is the most consistent sonically, but Gigolos tries to offer a Dolby 5.0 mix that does not improve matters much in its case.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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