Six seasons in, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (or B.S.!, as it appears on the review copy sent out) is still taking on established beliefs with a healthy amount of irreverence and gratuitous nudity. Episodes alternate between exposing con games to helping viewers rethink their position on long-held beliefs. Notoriously tongue-in-cheek, Las Vegas magic duo Penn & Teller have a way of ripping into liars and kooks while maintaining a serious grounding on whatever topic they’re covering. There are also the simple stage sets and corny costumes that were the staple of earlier seasons.
“Being Green” is quite possibly the only honest look at the green movement ever broadcast on television. The hosts admit they don’t know all the facts, but they are quick to point out that no one really does and how jumping to conclusions in an effort to “save the planet” can often lead to more harm than good. This episode is best for its look at potential scams involving carbon credits and how easily people can be fooled into giving away money to an organization they don’t know anything about in order to drive their SUVs guilt-free. “The Good Ol’ Days” is an amusing look at nostalgia and the ongoing myth that things were simpler in earlier times; “World Peace” looks at the anti-war/pro-war movements and the problems on both sides; and “New Age Medicine” tackles those who tout things like acupuncture and reiki as solutions to serious medical conditions.
On the whole, the sixth season isn’t the strongest, as there’s a larger quotient of fluff. Episodes like “The War on Porn,” “Dolphins,” and “Sleep, Inc.” are interesting, but much less surprising than other episodes. While it may be worth knowing on some level that dolphins aren’t really as intelligent as Flipper would have us believe, it’s no real surprise to hear it, and spending 30 minutes on the topic feels like overkill. The same can be said for “Sleep, Inc.,” which looks at zany remedies for insomnia (think healing crystals) that obviously won’t make a bit of difference in how someone sleeps. “The War on Porn” is certainly fun to watch, but its message that exposure to pornography won’t lead to the end of modern civilization like social conservatives would have us believe is, again, an obvious one.
Despite the presence of these lighter episodes, the sixth season of Bullshit! shows Penn & Teller still proudly plugging common sense and skepticism over myth and pseudoscience. What more could anyone want?
Surprisingly, the image quality on this DVD isn't as good as it could be, especially in the age of high-def TV. Bullshit! is a great show, but it must skimp on high-quality video equipment if it looks this muddy in comparison to other Showtime series. Compression artifacts and video interlacing are also evident, which may have more to do with the DVD transfer and squeezing five episodes onto each disc. Audio is fair, nothing exciting or any problems to mention. A few more language and subtitle options would have been nice.
Showtime has a taste for including episodes from other original series on their DVD sets. Thankfully, they haven't done that here. Given the compression issues evident in the video, it's good they didn't try cramming any more onto only two discs. Each disc, however, does open with the same annoying commercial for Showtime every time you load it in. Thanks, Showtime!
Still waiting for Bullshit! to tackle Scientology, but until then, season six is a solid one despite containing more fluff topics than previous seasons.