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.
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?
As I mentioned above, I watch this show on Discovery HD and I know that it’s broadcast in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. That said, these discs are presented in a Full-Frame transfer that looks good – though knowing that anamorphic prints exist is a bit disturbing. It’s really odd watching a Full-Frame DVD on a widescreen TV, but the colors are rich and solid and the transfer does look pretty good. I’m only knockig this down a couple of notches because I’m ticked that it’s Full-Frame. Still, the highest rated program on The Discovery Channel does deserve a bit more, don’t you think?
Audio: How does it sound?
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?
There’s not much in terms of extras here, just some outtakes from a commercial shoot and a photo gallery. There are also some clips from an interview with Paul Sr. I’d say a commentary track would be nice, but the way the show is laid out (with confessionals and all) you get a running commentary on every episode. I’m sure there’s more that can be added to future seasons, but just to have the first few seasons on DVD is good enough for me.