In 2004 DOG the Bounty Hunter first took to the airwaves. On the surface it looked like yet another one of those reality cop shows where camera guys followed the men in blue as they took down the bad guys. Dog wasn’t a cop; in fact he’d spent a part of his life on the other side of the law. Still, he was decked out in a Kevlar vest with a badge hanging from a chain around his neck. The cameras followed him around as he kicked in doors and stalked his criminal prey. But this isn’t really quite your typical reality cop show. These guys aren’t cops. They’re bounty hunters. It’s a family business that provides bail bonds to get the bad guys out of jail and has the muscle to track them down if they decide to skip their court appearances. This Dog doesn’t get stuck holding the bag for nobody.
The Chapman family lives mostly in Hawaii. They do spend a lot of time at a second home in Colorado, where Dog is originally from. But it doesn’t really matter what the location might be. The job is always the same. The team is strictly a family affair. Dog (Duane) Chapman is “Big Daddy” and the driving force behind the operation. Beth is Dog’s wife and runs the business side of the operation. That doesn’t mean that she’s not right there on the hunt offering logistic support. Dog’s right-hand man is his brother Tim. They have been partners for decades. Then there are Dog’s two sons Leland and Duane Lee. This is the core group. They operate out of two SUVs as they track and take down the fugitives. The youngest member of the team is Dog’s daughter Baby Lyssa. She’s a small and shy girl, but she gets in her share of licks every now and again. There is also Dog’s nephew Justin, who has a spotty record of commitment to the group.
Each episode finds the team gathering intel on the person or persons they’re going to be looking for in that particular episode. We get to see them strategize and run their scams and searches to bring the person in. There’s a lot of tough talk, and the subject is often referred to as the scumbag or worse. Things change once the subject is in custody. Chapman develops a soft spot for the person and gives them a little moral talk. Now he’s all soft and kind no matter how hard the fugitive made it for them. He tries to get them to turn their life around. You’ll be amazed at how often these criminals end up crying and hugging the guys that took them down. They often shout “I love you” to the bounty hunter as they’re ushered into jail. It’s all part of the unique nature of the show. Dog begins each hunt with a prayer and the motto: “Let’s catch them and fix them”.
A&E has basically assembled a greatest hits package with this 8 disc mega-set. There are 45 episodes in all from various seasons. They run about 20 minutes each.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast full-frame format. With that kind of a program you have to expect jittery camera work and imperfections in focus and lighting. Again, this is a lot of handheld stuff, so don’t expect picture stability all the time. Of course, the couch interviews are stable, standard-looking production. Black levels and contrast are pretty much average. Overall I’m sure the DVD looks as good as or better than the original cable broadcast.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is an average affair. I’m sure you’ll be looking for a ton more kick out of your subs during the theme. Sorry, but there’s nothing dynamic to brag about here. On the other hand, you won’t find anything terribly wrong here either. Most of the time you can hear the dialog. Other times subtitles fill in what is difficult to understand. Reality television is not MTV.
I had not had the chance to see the show before this set arrived for me to review. I honestly hadn’t heard of Dog Chapman before. This set turns out to be a wonderful introduction to the show. You get a good idea of how the show might have evolved over its 6 seasons, currently heading into a 7th. If you’re at all curious, you can’t go wrong with this sweet mega-set. The final disc explores some real trouble Dog got into with the feds because he chased a rapist into Mexico, where bounty hunting is not legal. I get the idea the case is still open, but the overwhelming support that Dog has gotten for his actions will likely keep the bounty hunter out of jail and out on the streets where he belongs, catching and fixing criminals. It doesn’t appear as though the trouble has slowed Dog down one bit. In Dog’s world, “There’s only one way to hunt a fugitive and that’s full blast”.