Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 30th, 2011
“As an exterminator I’m called upon to curb the destruction by beasts both great and small, be it eliminating a deadly menace or safeguarding a lake from ruin. But sometimes one wrong turn on the job can become a question of life or death.”
Billy Bretherton is the owner of Vex Con Pest Control in Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s a family-run business. Mom is the office manager and takes all of the service calls and then dispatches the technicians to their various jobs. Dad is the office mascot. He’s had a heart attack along with a few other medical scares, so he’s not really very hands-on. You might say his main job is to worry and complain. Ricky is Billy’s brother and often his partner on many of his two-man jobs. It’s interesting that we’re constantly told that Ricky is deathly allergic to wasp stings. One sting and it’s an airlift ride to the ER, Billy is always reminding us. But when a wasp call comes in, who do you think Billy takes along to help? Of course, it’s Ricky. Mom always reminds us of the allergy and admonishes Billy to be sure his brother doesn’t get stung. It’s things like this that make this the most frustrating A&E series I’ve ever watched.
A&E has been one of the front-runners in quality programming when it comes to the recent trend of reality-job-style shows. Every time I’ve gotten a new release like Ice Road Truckers or Hoarders, I roll my eyes wondering how the heck this is going to be sustainable for an entire season of shows. Most of the time I end up sucked in without ever completely understanding why. The network has just done an incredible job of keeping your interest level high on what should be routine or repetitive in nature. Once you start watching these things, you find you have a hard time stopping. I looked at the release with some hope for one of the more exciting shows to come down the A&E grapevine. I am a reptile breeder myself and have always had a huge interest in animals. This was going to be great fun…Not!
Perhaps it is my own above-average knowledge of reptiles in particular which caused me the most trouble. Billy constantly calls himself an expert. He speaks about the animals he captures and removes with complete authority. You’re inclined to accept him at his word. I don’t know much about the other animals, but Billy’s knowledge of snakes is dreadful. He continued with the erroneous information on season 3 by telling us that vipers have neurotoxic venom. Not true. They have hemotoxic venom. The only neurotoxic snake in the United States is the coral snake. Billy also helps to propagate the common myths about how you distinguish venomous from nonvenemous species. Rely on his advice and it’s a sure-fire way to get a trip to the ER. His generalizations are simply not true and quickly disproved. This misinformation makes me highly skeptical of Billy’s knowledge on the other animals he talks about. Of course, even when his information is somewhat accurate, he hypes it beyond the limit. He hypes the diseases you can get from roaches and raccoon feces to the point that we’re staring at an epidemic of the plague before he’s done talking.
Billy’s family drama is much less pronounced in season 3. While Mary continues to be shown on the credits, she does not appear in a single episode of the season. Mom doesn’t try to set Ricky up anymore. Now she’s much more involved in the office staff girls and their situations. She does go out on a few calls this season, which was pretty entertaining. Big Bill doesn’t get much screen time at all in season 3. He does sneak away on a couple of calls and then catches royal hell from Donnie.
Each episode is presented in a somewhat disappointing non-anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It’s rare to find this kind of image presentation these days. I’m not really sure why the discs are released this way. This is all shot out in the field, so expect frantic camera work at times and documentary-style quality. Black levels are fair with some compression artifact. If you’ve seen the show on the air, you can expect pretty much a comparable image presentation here.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation. The sound design folks add in heightened hisses and sounds that are obviously not from the field. It’s another example of too much hype.
About Billy: (7:24) Billy tells us a little about his wardrobe, and we catch a couple of his promotional appearances.
Billy’s Crew: (8:53) We meet some of the filming crew, usually in some hairy situations.
Behind The Scenes: (8:45) A handful of mini-features.
I will admit that the show was a bit more entertaining in its third year. Billy seems to have calmed down a bit without losing his shtick. There’s almost no gator action this season. Bees and wasps seem to dominate the calls. One of the good messages that the show offers is Billy’s attempts to save and release most of the pest animals he encounters. That doesn’t mean, of course, he doesn’t still attack those bees and roaches with glee that can be somewhat infectious. The show would actually be pretty good if they would hire a reptile expert. I’m available. Season 4 is on its way… “This time maybe you’ll be a little more careful than you were the last time.”