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Punk'd
The Complete Second Season

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 156 minutes

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Al Shearer

 

 

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: Audio Commentaries with Ashton Kutcher, Ahmed Ahmed, Steve Rannazzisi and Co-Creator Jason Goldberg, Deleted Scenes, Never-Before-Seen Segments, The Making Of Punk'd: Outkast, Punk Your Friend, Promos

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Stereo, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections, 2-Disc Set

Released: October 12th, 2004

 

 

Just in case you have not heard of "Punk'd" (by this I will assume that you have been living under a rock this past year and a half - oh by the way, Ashton and Demi Moore are dating), it's basically a hidden-camera show involving celebrities. Ashton Kutcher commands some of his actor friends (that nobody would ever recognize) to play jokes on famous people (though sometimes ordinary folk are shoved into the mix). When it's all over, somebody's been fooled (hence they've been "punk'd) and Ashton comes out to bring them the news ("Hey man! You've just been punk'd!") and everyone being filmed has a good laugh and those who have been victimized do damage control to show that they are nice people after all (well, some of the time).

Let's be honest: the concept of "Punk'd" is not purely original. But trying to pull fast ones on celebrities - usually in pretty elaborate or rather mean-spirited stunts - is what made the show stand out, all thanks to Ashton's connections in that he could reel a bunch of his Hollywood friends in and get make them look like idiots. While I wouldn't say that every prank the show has featured has been comic gold (some stunts are a lot better than others), the show did have a lot of laugh-worthy and smile-inducing moments.

I have to admit that when "Punk'd" first debuted, I was easily drawn in and watched most of the first season on television - it was hard to not be sucked in by what the show offered - it is a very entertaining show most of the time (and more or less the first time you see a stunt). Yes, it is somewhat low (like most of reality television) - even if it is all in good fun (come on, Alan Funt was never this much of a bastard). Even though we see it in the media pretty much everyday, it's fun to see all these celebrities get victimized to some degree and lose their temper (you see folks, movie stars have emotions just like you and me!). My interest in the show did wane after the first season and I really didn't catch much of the second - though it seems (in a smart move) that new actors were hired to help do the pranking.

I did check out more of the second season of the show on DVD, and while it seemed pretty hard to top the first season, there were plenty of outrageous moments for the second go around. Some of the funniest moments of the second season are when Hilary Duff gets a horrid driver's ed lesson, Usher losing his cool in a clothing store, Halle Berry can't get into her own premiere and when Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys gets involved with Tommy Lee (pretty fun stuff). This season has a lot more fun moments too, and the goods are definitely delivered here.

And of course, we all got "Punk'd": Ashton Kutcher announced he was ending the show and said he wasn't fooling anybody but surprise! On April Fool's Day 2004, he announced he was just kidding and the show was coming back for a fourth season. In the intreim though, is the show still really that amusing after repeat viewings? Personally, I think when you've seen a prank once you've seen it all - and that since you know the outcome it's not as great as it was originally. Some of you probably disagree though, and will watch all the second season episodes (eight of them) over and over again - so have fun, and you better believe that season three is on its way.

 

Show in 1.33:1 full screen transfers, the second season transfers look just as good as the first. If you can withstand some faded picture quality that sometimes is a bit grainy (which is part of the territory), then there's a lot to like here. The episodes mainly look really sharp for the most part, with good fleshtones and fine color saturation. The black and white Ashton introductions look very nice once again. In all, the episodes have a sharp look to them and do brim with quality. Fans won't get punk'd in this department.

 

English stereo tracks take center stage again, even though the box lists them as English Surround tracks (they sound like stereo to me). Dialogue is easy to hear, and the music does pull its own weight which helps add to the show's free-wheeling attitude. But in comparison to the first set, I didn't find the sound effects to be much of an improvement. They are there to highlight the show's action (particuarly in the more wild segments), but don't have as much power as they should. Hopefully season three on DVD will add a bit more power to the segments, but these tracks are serivceable. Also included are English closed captioning.

 

Like last time, every episode of the show has a audio commentary. Featured on the second season episodes are Ashton Kutcher, Ahmed Ahmed, Steve Rannazzisi and Co-Creator Jason Goldberg (he's still Mr. Punky Brewster). Again, I have to commend Kutcher - and his cohorts - for taking the time to guide viewers through the episodes. If you're familiar with the first season commentaries, a lot of the same is offered here: plenty of jokes, talk about celebrities and some irrelevance. However, these commentaries are superior to the first season ones since there's a lot more talk about the actual show production and how the pranks were set up (there are congratulatory remarks too). If you're interesting in some nice behind-the-scenes info plus some laughs, you'll find it all here. I will say that I'm still waiting for Kutcher and Goldberg to invite those who did get punk'd on some of the tracks.

The second disc has all the other bonus materials. In a major improvement over the last disc, you can now watch all the Deleted Scenes in separate - nice! However, there still is that helicopter icon that appears during the episodes in case you want to go that route. The footage looks rough, but there is a lot of fun and priceless stuff here that fans are sure to enjoy here, even if some if it is brief. In total, these run about 39 minutes.

Also presented in rough footage are Never Before Seen Punk'd Segments running about 12 minutes totally. The first has Al Shearer in a bit from with Wilver Valderrama at an intimate gathering, and the second takes place at an enviromental awards where Steve asks ridiculous questions on the "green" carpet and has kids selling candy right in front of him - pretty funny stuffy actually.

The Making Of Punk'd: Outkast is a really great behind-the-scenes process of how creating a segment goes down. Lasting about nine minutes, we see the producers in action and what they end up going through to create such a complex segments and how it all comes together. Simply put, punking celebrities is not easy. Also on the DVD is Punk Your Friends, where Ashton gives you instructions in how to punk someone with the DVD - fun stuff.

There are also the usual promos too, and once again Ashton Kutcher hosts the interactive menus which are a little amusing but get tiring very quickly.

 

The second season of "Punk'd" was enjoyable, and this DVD improves on the first season set with more extras and better commentaries. So if you want to see some episodes again or don't have MTV and are curious, this set is the way to go. With decent transfer and sound mixes too, the price is more than fair for this set. Have fun!