“You know those shows that say don’t try this at home? This is one of those.”
Scare Tactics is really nothing new. In 1948 one of the very first television shows to air on network television was a converted radio program originally called Candid Microphone and renamed Candid Camera for television. It was the brain child of Allen Funt, who began the idea while in the armed services, secretly recording fellow servicemen in awkward positions for his Armed Forces Radio program. The idea was a hit and was television’s first hit program. Funt would hide his 16mm cameras and put people in awkward situations with the intent to make them feel and appear foolish. The stunts in those days were pretty simple. A talking mail box or strange acting workers. It was all in good fun and everybody got a laugh.
Then in 2003 Ashton Kutcher comes along with Punk’d. Now it’s celebrities who are targeted with bizarre situations and secret cameras. The show’s become somewhat of a cliché and a fad that appears to have run its course. Leave it to the SyFy Channel to put a horror twist on the old theme.
Scare Tactics debuted in appropriately enough on April 1st, 2003. Hosted by Shannen Doherty, the series relied on regular people to set up their friends and loved ones. They would place the mark in an extraordinary situation often akin to something out of a horror or science fiction film. Marks believed they were being confronted by alien invaders, psycho killers, mutant monsters, government agents, and satanic cults, among others. Stephen Baldwin stepped into the hosting duties during a disrupted second season. After a couple of years off the air the show returned in 2008 this time with comedian Tracy Morgan as the host. The gags would continue along the same lines with a little more budget evident in these newer episodes.
Now the marks are not supposed to know what’s going on, but I’m beginning to feel that claim is a bit dubious after watching this half season set. They’re still using the same actors on the show so that anyone who has watched any of them should recognize the people they’re being put on by. They also tend to recycle bits. Even this set has almost all recycled bits by the last couple of episodes. I’ve also noticed that a suspicious number of the marks have ear pieces and clothing mics. This appears somewhat out of place for someone who doesn’t know they’re being recorded. And if they are, I gotta believe none of this would have a remote chance of working on me. So some of these marks are either incredibly stupid or are in on the act from the top. I leave it to you to decide for yourself.
Some of the gags this season:
A girl gets a job at a health spa only to find out that they are draining young girls of their blood to help older women look young again.
An experimental subject appears to be able to set fires with his mind.
A worker is brought into a lab where alien eggs are about to hatch out.
A woman appears to have real voodoo skills.
In my favorite, one guy gets the award for dumbest mark to appear on the show. He’s brought into what looks like a suicide cult. They try to get him to drink a cup of Kool-Aid to help with his “transition”. Even after he watches two others fall seriously ill from the drink, he gulps his down.
Each episode of Scare Tactics is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. To be fair, you really can’t expect very good image quality here. Most of the footage is shot with “hidden” cameras and usually not under the best lighting. Add significant compression artifact, and the image is actually pretty poor. What isn’t expected is that even the Tracy Morgan host footage is below par.
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.
Extra Footage: This is definitely not for the kiddies. This looks like extras from a porno video. It’s just close up and gratuitous boob shots.
Tracy Morgan’s Frighteningly Funny Outtakes: Just 4 minutes of Morgan messin’ up.
I can’t stress enough that this set is not appropriate for the kids. The extras are practically X-Rated, and you need to understand it going in. I’m a bit disappointed that a show like this has to make the DVDs so raunchy. It diminishes the appeal as it does the intended audience. It doesn’t have a lot of rewatch value, and unless you need all the extra F-Bombs you can catch these episodes ad nauseum on television. Paying good money for material you can get for free? “That’s insane.”