Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Quack Pack is back, Jack!

Every once in a while, there’s a show that catches the imagination of a nation -- or at least the funny bone.

When it’s a reality show, the shelf life usually isn't very long.

With A&E's  ‘Duck Dynasty,’ though, they’ve managed to hold on for three solid seasons are getting ready to kick-off their fourth season Wednesday.

‘Duck Dynasty’ isn’t the first cable reality show to catch fire. There is an interesting history to the phenomenon, though.

When you compare ‘Duck Dynasty’ to a show like ‘The Osbournes’ – the comparison gets a little freaky. Both shows were the best in their first season – and then, slowly but surely, some things that looked pretty scripted started to sneak in.

Relatively early on, both shows saw pop culture throw up all over them with shirts, cups, magnets, home decorations -- pretty much anything you can think of, really.

When you think back to the first season of ‘Duck Dynasty,’ what stands out? For me, it’s simple
family time and frivolity. I loved watching them go frogging in the middle of the night, for example, and I cracked up when Willie fell out of the boat because he was scared of the snake.

Cut to this third season, when some of the shows literally felt like they’d been written as sitcom episodes. The biggest contrivance for me was Willie and Jase making their wives go hunting. These women did not want to go hunting – they did it for laughs and exposure -- and the deer urine mistake was so telegraphed you could see it coming a mile away.

That is not what fans want to see.
On the flip side, filming the guys out in the woods just doing their thing is hilarious. Si being convinced that he saw a black panther – and the group making Godwin climb a hill, take his shirt off and pretend to be a big cat to test Si's eyesight was funny.

Cut to Willie taking Sadie dress shopping – complete with a montage of dresses hitting the floor in the store – and then having Sadie end up with the same dress she originally bought. Yeah, I’ve seen that before – on at least three other sitcoms.

Which brings me to the trip to Hawaii. I don’t know about anyone else, but I couldn’t help but feel that the airline losing Willie’s bag, him wearing a sarong and Si not having the correct reservation was really contrived. And yet, I was perfectly happy watching the guys ride around on their little scooters and bait each other into jumping off a ruin into the ocean.

The fact of the matter is, these guys do not need help being funny. They’re funny on their own.

I think one of the problems is that the women have been trying to force their way into the forefront too much. Missy, Kory, and Jessica are not interesting. Miss Kay is – but her yuppie daughter-in-laws should not be a focus on the show. They’re not entertaining.

You also run into a problem with the kids. I have no problem watching Phil build a playhouse for his granddaughters and bribe them to target practice from it.  I do have a problem setting up a scenario like Sadie and John Luke bowling with grandma. I’m not quite sure why the show is trying to focus on the kids so much – especially Sadie and John Luke – but it feels really forced.
I would hate to see ‘Duck Dynasty’ go the route of other reality shows that caught fire and then burned out – ‘Jon and Kate Plus Eight’ and ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,’ I’m talking to you. The key to this show is not purposely putting these guys in “duck out of water” situations. The key to this show is family and heart – and just letting them do their own thing.

I promise, fans won’t be disappointed if you let the Robertsons excel at what they excel at: Being Robertsons.

‘Duck Dynasty’ returns at 10 p.m. Wednesday on A&E.

What do you think? Is ‘Duck Dynasty’ getting a little too contrived?


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December 9, 2013 at 3:09 AM 

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