Reviews

Dog the Bounty Hunter: The Best of Season 2

Leigh H. Edwards (Rating: 7; Extras: 2)

Dog is not just a patriarch, he's a franchise. There's lots of Dog merchandise, and most relatives wear T-shirts or hats with the imposing logo.


Dog the Bounty Hunter

Distributor: A&E
Cast: Duane "Dog" Chapman, Beth Smith, Leland Chapman, Tim Chapman, Duane Lee Chapman
Subtitle: The Best of Season 2
US Release Date: 2006-03-28
Amazon affiliate
Amazon

Dog is back and as growly as ever. See him in all his glory on seven of his favorite episodes on Dog the Bounty Hunter: The Best of Season 2. We get the same high speed chases mixed with redemption scenes we saw on the Season One DVD, as he stalks his prey in Hawaii (and sometimes in Colorado), then instructs his bail-bond jumpers to change their ways, get off drugs, stop beating up their wives, and find God. While he's a season older, his long blond mullet with a pompadour (which defies gravity, really) is still raucous. Back too are his steel-toed cowboy boots and beloved family, headed by fourth wife Beth, who owns the bail bond company, and several of his kids. The action is zippy, the bonding is quippy, and the Dogisms are still trippy. And the ride is again worth it.

What distinguishes this season from the last is the increased focus on the family. Each episode follows Dog as he gets his bail jumper, with time for bonding, practical jokes, philosophical speeches about what family means, and how to think about the family business. Which just so happens to be a violent, adrenaline-rush, mace-fueled chaos. As in the first season, it is amusing and jarring to see Dog go from slamming a drug dealer against a car to teaching his daughter how to vacuum (he has an odd, OCD-style obsession with vacuum cleaners, which he used to sell before his bounty hunting days).

We get a better sense here of what it means to mix family and business. Beth, presiding over a blended brood that includes her two young kids with Dog (Bonnie and "Gary Boy"), as well as her tweenage daughter from a previous marriage, is always ready to take in Dog's 12 adult children when they want to live there for a while, but they all have to be a part of the business in one way or another. As Beth says, "Everyone who lives at our house works, even the kids." Their tasks, mostly gendered, range from being on the strike team to going through files to babysitting and keeping house.

Committed to "making a difference," Dog holds it all together. "Dog II: Son of Dog" chronicles how his first-born, Duane Lee Chapman, Jr., came back to the fold to work; Duane Lee says, "I want to make a difference again." In "Baby's Back in Town," Dog's ninth child, "Baby Lyssa," whom he has not seen in six years, comes to live with them, a teenaged single mother bringing her infant daughter. Dog explains, in a direct address to the camera, a technique that heightens the sense of emotional intimacy, that he raised her until she was eleven, and then she went to live with her mom in Alaska. Crying when speaking of his granddaughter, he says, "Another little bounty hunter has come to the Chapman family." Lyssa, also weeping, says her father's house has always been like this, full of people and kids. She says, "I kick myself for all the years I was away from this."

Dog is not just a patriarch, he's a franchise. There's lots of Dog merchandise, and most relatives wear T-shirts or hats with the imposing logo. Toddler Gary already dresses like his Dad, sporting a blond mullet, boots, black jeans, black tank top with "Bad to the Bone" on it, and his very own handcuffs hooked to his belt. He cries when he doesn't get to go on a hunt.

All this makes for a disconcerting lack of distinction between family time and work time. Adrenaline and aggression turn instantly into tears and domestic bliss. This whiplash is sometimes a bit much. In "Surprise! Surprise!," Dog punks his son Leland (his "third son") into thinking they're after a bail jumper. As Leland rushes in with his mace, ponytail flying, storming a boat his dad told him to rush, becoming frantic, Dog finally yells, "Surprise" and everyone dissolves into laughter. It's a surprise early morning marlin fishing trip for Leland's birthday. Teary, he says, "I can't remember a time I've spent on my birthday with my Dad."

A vacation includes another bust, demonstrating again how the rhetoric of family rationalizes work, violence, and gender roles. On "This Dog Can Hunt," Dog outperforms the police by tracking a fugitive for days on foot through the woods in Colorado Springs. During the pursuit, Dog and his crew also go on outdoor expeditions. While Duane Lee beats his father in a fishing contest, and the grandkids look on, Dog says he's doing "a father's job, to show love and build memories."

As the episode intercuts fishing scenes with footage of Dog tracking his prey, Dog tells us, "This is the kind of hunting that my grandfather taught me. Instead of hunting for a deer today, we're hunting for a man." Specifically, they're hunting Harry Whaley, a drug addict with a $25,000 bond he jumped for felony traffic violations. Beth tells us she loves his "ruthlessness," saying, "As soon as they called off their dog, I sent in my dog, and he found him." Dog's reward for big captures is sex with Beth, which the crew jokes about each time.

Dog is angry with Harry because he is leeches off of his family materially, and manipulates them emotionally. Calling him Harry "love leech," Dog castigates his failures of masculinity, his shortcomings as husband and father. This infraction is not only as bad as his felony, Dog sees it as the root of the criminal behavior. Putting a stop to his felons' domestic violence would clearly be a major achievement. But Dog's ideal depends on constrictive gender differences. While Beth is an assertive small business owner and spars verbally with Dog, they both want him to be the "man of the house."

Indeed, Dog consistently fathers his charges, and in part, they try rehab or seek a job because they want to be a part of Dog's sprawling, charismatic family/circus. In "Brother's Keeper," he instructs Clifford Charlie Kahumoku (charged with abuse and violation of probation) that he needs to learn how to be a "brother," and that Dog and his boys will keep him on the straight and narrow. Beth argues that boys "have to have that really positive male influence to offset all the hormonal girls." Dog adds, "I wonder if he had a brother, would he be all right. See that's what a brother is for, when a little brother throws temper tantrums, the big brother is there to settle that down." He tells Duane Lee to be younger brother Leland's "keeper." Decrying wife batterers, Dog teaches Charlie, "You cannot win the heart of the girl by being mean to her. Romeo and Juliet, you think he beat her ass all the time? No!" Beth and Dog decide to have mercy on him because he is the only person taking care of his wheelchair-bound mother. They tell him they will employ him and get him off of drugs. The sobbing man tells Dog he loves him.

Kinship bonds, especially a mother's love and disappointment, can convince felons to turn themselves in. If they won't, Dog and Beth will get the mother to give up her son, the wife her husband, or even kids their father. Most of the bail jumpers are addicts, and the Chapmans treat them with dignity (after the capture) and try to get them into rehab. The team depends on getting battered, longsuffering women to trust them. While getting the father to jail might help a family in the long run, Dog's methods involve twisting the emotions of already-beleaguered women.

In "This Dog Can Hunt," Dog convinces a man's 16-year-old daughter to go to a drug house he might be. As she's sending her father to jail, she sobs and trembles with fear. While Dog tells such women they are asserting their own agency, they clearly suffer as well. In spite of the regressive gender and family rhetorics, Dog offers gritty narratives in which the team's dramatic intervention might save someone's life.

2
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.