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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > Comedy > TV > Awful Truth - Complete Series (A&E DVD)

The Awful Truth Box Set   (complete series)


Picture: B-     Sound: C     Extras: B     Film: A



There are certain times when the truth hurts.  Not only that, but when something is so truthful that even when presented in a cynical or sarcastic way can be devastating when you take in with full awareness what is actually going on.  The Awful Truth for two complete seasons (or 24 episodes) did just that!  With host Michael Moore, known for his brilliant documentary Roger and Me and his more recent Bowling for Columbine, he takes no prisoners as he attempts to find out what is wrong with America by looking deep at some of the lies in order to find the awful truths. 


Moore has an amazing ability to cover both sides of every story and attempt to stand back a little with his own beliefs and try to figure out what position to take based on what he uncovers.  For example in the film Bowling for Columbine many assume that Moore is anti-gun, when in fact Moore is a NRA member.  Moore is not against guns, but against our rights being taken away by those individuals who must use guns for all the wrong reasons.  Moore is never afraid to be too daring or too risky.  In fact there are moments when he is near the edge and at times over the edge as almost every episode involves the law enforcement or security coming to the rescue. 


Season One operates slightly different from Season Two.  In Season One, Moore acts more like a stand-up comedian in front of an audience and then there are clips that are shown during the segment, which are then discussed either before or afterwards.  In season two Moore hosts the show from Times Square in New York and there is little involvement from him live, but most of it is shot material that is then presented.  Season Two also has more money involved and this is clearly seen in some of the graphics as well as some of the subjects that are covered.  It would seem that more money was used in order to accomplish some of what was done during Season Two.  Season One ran during the 1998/1999 season on Bravo, while Season Two ran in the 1999/2000 period.  Each episode runs approximately 25 minutes as they are without commercials, which would run them 30 minutes. 


This box set contains all 24 episodes on four DVD’s.  Each season is split over two DVD’s with six episodes on each disc. 


Season One


Episode One

          A Cheaper Way to Conduct a Witch hunt

          Funeral at an HMO

Episode Two

          Beat the Rich

          The Sodomobile

Episode Three

          Crackers vs. Mickey Mouse

          The Voice-box Choir

Episode Four

          Sal, the Bill Collector

          Duck and Cover

Episode Five

          The Awful Truth Man of the Year

          TV Pundits

          150 Feet from NBC

Episode Six

          Work Care!


          Air-Drop TV’s on Afghanistan

Episode Seven

          Cohen in a Wimp

          LucyCam #2

          Manpower, Inc

Episode Eight

          Montana Shacks

          Joe Camel Needs a Job

          LucyCam #3

Episode Nine

          Hail Turdonia

          Teen Sniper School

          Hitler Makes a Withdraw

Episode Ten

          Crackers vs. the Egg Farm

          The Michael Moore Playset

          American Apartheid

          Bill Gates’ Housewarming

Episode Eleven

          Weapon Inspectors

The “Make a Wish Foundation”

          We Find Hilary a Date

Episode Twelve

          NAFTA Mike


          The Merger


Season Two


Episode One

          Advertiser Appreciation Night

Episode Two

          Compassionate Conservative Night

Episode Three

          Help the Dead Guy

Episode Four

          German Vacation Night

Episode Five

          Ficus for Congress

Episode Six

          Taxi Driver

Episode Seven

          Dixie Flag Night

Episode Eight

          Stop and Frisk Night

Episode Nine  

          Replacement Mike

Episode Ten

          Store the Homeless

Episode Eleven

          Gulf War

Episode Twelve

          Find Clinton a Job


Just by looking at the breakdown from each season it is clear that during the second season that there was a sharper focus on one theme throughout the episode rather than in season one when two or three were covered.   Season Two seems to not only have a sharper focus, but also manages to pull everything together a little tighter, where in season one things were a toss up, which worked fine since it had a different approach. 


Even if you do not agree with everything that Moore has to offer or you think that his show goes ‘too far’ there is no argument that at least he is motivated to take action towards something.  He does not sit around and just complain about it like the majority of us do, but rather he takes action in some way, shape, or form.  With his camera by his side and his microphone in hand there is no telling where Moore will show up.  In fact in one of his episodes there was a ‘Michael Moore Memo’ sent out to all the offices of the temp agency Manpower Inc.  The memo stated what you were to do in case Moore would show up.  Upon hearing about this Moore decided to visit a few Manpower Inc. locations just to make sure that the employees were reading up on all the memos.  Even when you try to stop Moore he will use your attack against him and come back even harder. 


There are a lot of highlights from each season.  Some of the episodes actually end slightly different than expected.  One episode involved Moore going to the streets of New York City and telling all African American men to trade in their black wallets in exchange for a bright orange wallet so that the cops will know that the wallet is not a gun.  This was done shortly after N.Y.P.D. shot an African American male when he pulled out his wallet.  Moore did not expect to get the turnout that he did and the people on the street played right into his hands taking part in his demonstration. 


Other episodes are just crazy and the point of them is not necessarily to accomplish anything like when he was able to get a U.P.S. worker his job back.  For example the episode where he dresses a man up as Adolf Hitler and sends him into Swiss Banks in order to get money back from WWII.  Obviously there is no way that the bank will give out that money, but that is not the point. 


Each episode is admirably presented in its original broadcast format of 1.33:1, which looks good considering the source material is all over the place.  The live material is basic broadcast, which is an analog transfer and looks ok.  Some of the stock footage that is used ranged from fair to average.  The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and is recorded very low.  Audio is compromised in certain situations as most of this is shot in ‘guerrilla’ fashion where they are just concerned with getting something into the camera rather than worry about technical qualities.  The two-channel presentation does a fine job and remixing this for 5.1 would be rather pointless.  The volume tends to range back and forth between Moore talking and the video clips, but nothing too dramatic. 


There are a few extras in this box as well.  Season One contains some of the ‘Awful Truths” that were not used in the episode.  Season Two contains four commentaries on from Michael Moore on his favorite episodes.  His commentary is hilarious, but also provides the type of insight into how this whole production came about.  Moore fills in mentioning some of what the camera did not catch, which is always good to know in order to know what was cut together for each episode. 


The Awful Truth unfortunately only ran these two seasons and once you see it you will quickly understand just how bold and brilliant this show is.  Not only that, but the risks that were taken paid off in most cases, if nothing else it brought about awareness, which is the biggest plague on America.  This is by far the best way to view this series, as all the episodes are present without interruption by commercial.  Some of the episodes bear repeating as they are either that funny or that radical that you do not believe it happened that you need to see it again, such as the pimp going to Washington wondering if he can use congress as his ho’s!  This is not Moore’s first series like this, he did a similar show a few years back in 1994 called ‘TV Nation’, which some of that material reappears here and there during The Awful Truth, as do some of the same correspondents.  Docurama is responsible for bringing this great box set to the consumer and that is truth, nothing awful about it!



-   Nate Goss


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