American Chopper: Season Three

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

With the onslaught of Reality TV programming out there, it’s likely that there’s a program for someone of any interest. “American Chopper” certainly fits that bill. There’s no one voted off an island, no interviews with “The Donald” and certainly no scheming or plotting. No, “American Chopper” is a look at the Orange County Choppers led by Paul Sr. and his two sons (Paul Jr. and Mikey). What’s it all about, you ask? Do they ride around in helicopters? No. A “chopper”, for those who don’t know, is the more common version for a Harley-type of motorcycle. Think of what Bruce Willis’ character said in “Pulp Fiction”: “It’s a chopper, baby…”. And that’s it. They make custom motorcycles for organizations and celebrities (who have included Will Smith, Jay Leno, Lance Armstrong and Davis Love III just to name a few). Ok, so you have a program and they build motorcycles – so what? That’s just the half of it. For those who like to watch things being built (think those old woodworking shows), then this is right up your alley. Personally, I was hooked after one episode. This season saw a major growth spurt in the OCC organization, they’ve expanded their garage, added some new high tech equipment and brought in some upper management (Paul Sr.’s brother-in-law). Highlights of this season in clued the “Mikey and Vinnie” bike, the “Police Bike” and bikes for Lance Armstrong and PGA Tour Pro Davis Love III.

The main appeal is the interesting characters that comprise the Orange County Choppers (OCC). Paul Sr. and Jr. often get into yell fights, Mikey is the free-spirited son who isn’t really in the loop and Vinnie is the laid back worker who usually gets the job done. The premise is very simple, but it’s amazing how much drama can be involved when making a chopper. The first two seasons showcase all of the episodes including the famous “Fire Bike” which they made for the New York City Firefighters. The show is broadcast on the Discovery Channel, so they’re not concerned about ratings (though they do “bleep” plenty of the arguments) and advertisers. From concept to completion, we get to follow the process of the design and manufacturing of the chopper, right up until it’s unveiled to the owner (or at a ceremony). Like it or hate it, “American Chopper” is a different kind of Reality TV show and once you get past the strong personalities, it’s a very interesting watch.

Video: How does it look?

The first two seasons of “American Chopper” were shown in a full-frame ratio which baffled me a bit as the shows are shown in 1.78:1 on Discovery HD. Well, that problem has been resolved, for the most part, in this third season. The first two episodes are shown in full-frame, but the remainder of the episodes are shown in anamorhic widescreen, which nearly re-creates the HD experience. No blips or errors in the transfer here, I was very impressed with the picture quality and I’m assuming that the remainder of the shows will be in an anamorphic setting.

Audio: How does it sound?

To hear all of the “bleeped” out swear words is one thing, but to hear them in Dolby Digital sound – now that’s something else! The show is very dialogue driven and as such, the audio does a fine job here. The shows are new and there’s no loss, hiss or distortion that might otherwise be associated with a bad audio track. The surrounds are non-existent, except for maybe during the opening credits. A simple Dolby Surround mix is used here and while it doesn’t sound bad, it’s not really supposed to sound great. You get essentially what you expect to get.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The only supplement is a “Special Episode” entitled “Sr. vs Jr.” which refers to the Pauls and their infamous arguments. They sit down on the sofa (after arguing where to sit, of course) and recount some of their arguments. Paul Jr. nets it out, saying “We just do things differently”. For those that love this show for the arguments, this will fit the bill just fine. No other supplements have been included, though.

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