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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents

Monster Garage: Season One (2002)

"Wait a minute! It just occurred to me! This isn't a funeral! This is an execution!"- The Big Schwag (Brett Wagner)

Stars: Jesse James
Other Stars: Thom Beers, Tom Prewitt, Brett Wagner, Frankie Whiteside
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 12h:50m:00s
Release Date: 2005-05-03
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

While I've never considered myself a "gear head" by any stretch of the imagination, it's hard to watch an episode of Monster Garage and not be amazed. The crazy cars and gadgets that these guys come up with are simply amazing.

Monster Garage has been airing on the Discovery Channel since 2002, and has been a hit ever since its premiere. The brainchild of car aficionado Jesse James (who is, believe it or not, a direct descendant of the legendary outlaw), the show spends nearly an hour with a group of mechanics who are tasked with converting ordinary vehicles into "monsters."

In Monster Garage: Season One we have all 13 episodes from that season, during which the mechanics work their magic using a specific set of rules:

1. When completed, the car must look like stock.
2. They can only spend $3,000 on parts.
3. They have seven days and nights to complete the task.

Of course, the whole fun of the show is not only in watching the conversion of these cars, but in listening to the arguments that naturally occur during such daunting tasks. Jesse James is the best of the bunch, as he doesn't take any crap from anyone, and isn't afraid to show off his macho side. He can be annoying at times, as he tends to flaunt his "descendant of Jesse James"-based ego, but the show just simply wouldn't be as entertaining without him.

Season One showcases some truly remarkable car conversions. From the "converted" convertible that becomes the Switchblade, to a floating school bus, these guys always seem to top their previous work, which keeps people tuning in every week.

There are 13 episodes in Season One:

Switchblade: This episode sees Jesse and the boys transforming a 1990 Form Mustang GT convertible into a vehicle that can slash through anything. The new vehicle is basically a giant lawn mower.

Trash Truck: A 1994 Ford Explorer (Eddie Bauer Edition) is the lucky vehicle this time, with the mechanics turning it into a huge trash collector that actually works and seems to be much more efficient than the garbage trucks we see on the streets today.

Fire Truck Limo: Taking firefighting to the next level, a 1996 Lincoln Town Car limousine is transformed into a working fire truck, complete with all of the necessary firefighting tools.

Swamp Buggy: Here comes the "Marsh Monster," which in its previous incarnation was a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle. Now, it is fully equipped for the water, with a raft on its bottom that inflates at the push of a button.

The Ice Shaver: A 1996 Chevy Impala becomes ice hockey's favorite table-setter, a zamboni. This isn't your everyday ice caretaker, though, as this new vehicle can travel very fast.

Grim Reaper: Arguably the coolest, most demented conversion in the first season, this 1973 Miller Meteor Cadillac hearse turned car crusher wreaks havoc on any unsuspecting car that gets in its path.

Golf Ball Collector: A once lovely 1984 Porsche 944 finds a second life as a driving-range golfball retriever. This turns out to be a super-fast vehicle that any driving range owner would love to have doing his work for him.

Skool Bus Pontoon Boat: A 1989 Ford 20-passenger school bus is done shipping kids back and forth to school. James and co. turns this old bucket of bolts into a giant aquatic vehicle, which proves to be difficult considering its massive weight.

The Mail Blaster: Turning a 1998 Chevy Mac tool truck into the ultimate delivery truck has never been easier. At least James and his crew have made it look easy, equipping the vehicle with multiple air cannons and other tricked-out devices.

Hot Air Balloon Buggy: Ah, what wonders can be done with a 1995 Geo Tracker. This one is turned into a participant in the annual balloon festival in Albuquerque.

Tree Shaker: A 1997 F-150 Ford pickup is changed into a tree picker, equipped with a hydraulically powered clamp that can shake a tree to allow the nuts to fall without harming the tree itself.

Speed Sweeper: NASCAR star Kyle Petty aids in the transformation of a 2002 Dodge Intrepid into the fastest streetsweeper known to man.

Pop 'A' Wheelie Ambulance: Jesse James' favorite creation, this 1983 Ford E-350 XL Chassis, Type II, becomes an ambulance that can pull off a heck of a wheelie.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There really aren't any problems with the full-frame presentations of these shows. All 13 episodes look very similar to their original broadcast counterparts, featuring sharp, detailed images throughout, and a wide color palette in use. There is a tiny bit of video noise, but this is never a distraction.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The only audio option is Dolby Digital 2.0, but this is fine, given that the shows sound nearly the same as they did on TV. This mostly dialogue-driven show keeps most of the sound up front, with the surrounds only coming to life for some of the show's music.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 117 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Under the Hood: A bonus episode of Monster Garage.
  2. Full Throttle Preview: A look at the other Discovery Channel shows available on DVD.
Extras Review: There aren't many extras, but what is here is a bonus episode of Monster Garage called Under the Hood. This episode gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how the series came about and what goes into filming an episode. There's also a preview showing clips of other Discovery Channel shows that are available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

Of all of the reality shows that are out there these days, the last one I thought I would get into was Monster Garage. Thanks to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's release of the first season on DVD, I'm a fan now. Too bad there aren't more extras on this set, but the bonus episode is a nice touch, and the audio and video presentations preserve the TV broadcast look and sound of the show.

Chuck Aliaga 2005-05-04