Jackass: The Box Set

Let's face it: Jackass is the most entertaining television show ever made. Hands down and asses up. Making its official debut in 2000 — better known as the year "reality" TV became a household name — MTV's cutting edge program featuring a dozen or so numbskulls "doin' dumb shit" was revolutionary viewing. So maybe it spawned some seriously neglected kids doing dangerous copycat stunts, but the show was hardly irresponsible with its copious warnings, allowing the cautious folks who always wanted to "do dumb shit" live it through a cast of lovable characters. Led by poster boy Johnny Knoxville, Jackass isn't as mindless/tasteless as most stuffed shirts would have you believe. Created by Knoxville, director Jeff Tremaine and the inimitable Spike Jonze, there are some serious brains at work conjuring up these original stunts and skits, even though they're often pelted by paintballs or covered in "Johnny on the spot" juice. Divided into three categories — "reactionary" (stunts designed to induce a reaction from public spectators), "gross-outs" and "the stupid, the dangerous and the painful" — the show's stunts all appear to be off the cuff, which despite not always being the case (some are more obviously thought out than others) gives the viewer more visceral stimulation. This box set is the ultimate collection (including the long-awaited, never before released first season, which has also been released separately for those with two and three), and something every die-hard has been craving ever since television on DVD became the drug of the nation. Every episode in the show's three seasons is gathered here to ensure hours of endless entertainment. Classic moments are abundant: Knoxville's "beekini" (15,000 bees nestling up to his crotch), Ryan Dunn's "poo dive" into a sewage treatment pool, "Spermathon" where they determine who has the highest (Rick Kosick) and lowest (Knoxville) sperm count, Chris Pontius's comfortably homoerotic, amateur Playgirl shoot, Steve-O's butt piercing to put an end to "number twos" forever, and of course, Knoxville inseminating a cow. The series' lo-fi, D.I.Y. set-up obviously made the show the legend that it is, with some agonisingly squeamish results and a handful of arrests (caught on camera) that are both real charges and priceless practical jokes on the cast members. Despite commentaries from the full cast for each disc, there isn't much new footage that MTV never aired. The bonus disc included, however, is filled with some unforgettable extras outside of the episodes. Most valuable is the two-episode special, the riotous "Gumball Rally," where cast members took part in a hedonistic and dangerous six-day trek across Europe, from England to Russia and back, where they were detained at the Latvian border for six hours, nearly ran into car hijackers, got pulled over in a police speed trap in Denmark and partied hard both inside and outside of the cars. Brad Pitt's guest bits are also deservedly given the royal treatment. "The Abduction" finds the superstar waiting in line amongst a crowd only to be grabbed and thrown in a van by the Jackasses. Pulled off with such immaculate timing and acting, the prank causes a number of spectators to call 911 and report his kidnapping. "Night Monkey 2" finds Pitt dumbing it down and proving his humility with the crew as he dresses up in a full gorilla suit to cause havoc around Hollywood by getting in people's faces and attempting injury-inducing exploits. To round it off, an episode of Cribs featuring the pads of Steve-O, Dunn, Bam Margera and Pontius (who goes from a beat-up old truck as his down and out home to a gorgeous piece of forest-covered real estate in a "before and after" sequence) shines some light on their personal lives, but it's nothing you couldn't guess from their personalities or previous home footage from Jackass. A look at Knoxville's — the show's biggest star — home life would have been appreciated, but who knows what goes on there? Overall though, the nicest addition to this box set is the 48-page book that is both insightful with its history of how the show began, and colourful with its timeless and provocative stills from the show's best moments. This is a well rounded must-have for even the casual fan — if there is such a thing. (Paramount)