Penn & Teller: Bullshit! The Complete Fifth Season

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! The Complete Fifth Season
Season six is set to start in late June but fans of Showtime’s confrontational series can enjoy the previous season on DVD. Just don’t expect bonus features — there are absolutely none, besides a campy biography easily obtained online. It’s a notable contrast with earlier season sets, specifically the first, which included outtakes, bonus footage, an interview with mentor James Randi, plus a whole extra segment about ghost hunters. The season itself was also longer, by three episodes. Season five is Bullshit! with no frills. With this collection, the pair’s most impassioned issues are behind them, the writing is much more jokey and apathetic (no closing "shut the fuck ups” like before), and their polemics seem comparatively weaker and less urgent, examples being "Anger Management” and "Mt. Rushmore.” It’s nothing you knew but far less applicable than GMOs and alternative medicine. It’s tempting to argue it’s not their fault, that the show’s been on for too long. But that implies Bullshit! is no longer relevant programming and it certainly is — episodes like "Immigration” and "Obesity” have plenty of counterintuitive flavour, ranking seamlessly with the best of the series. Other topics have potential but suffer from mishandling. "Wal-Mart” won’t persuade anyone who’s already against the company and the "Breast” episode is a transparent appeal to lonely heterosexuals. "Nukes, Hybrids, and Lesbians” is most glaring, being as playful as it is aimless. Unavoidable throughout is the show’s overt libertarian philosophy, which arrives unannounced and frankly, under-explained. In "Handicapped Parking,” Penn diatribes about minimal government until he’s out of breath, pleasing fellow ideologues but sounding crazy to everyone else. It’s a shame for fans of Bullshit! and libertarianism. Like every season prior, episodes should be the start of a conversation, never the end. With so much stale rhetoric swung around in the major press, Penn and Teller offer an essential alternative that’s unique in television’s landscape. Just don’t always take their word for it, ’cause that’d be some bullshit too. (Paramount)