I don't know when I've laughed so much --I've just caught the first episode of the latest Reality TV outing called Moonshiners. This show filmed in the back woods of Appalachia examines a goood ole American tradition that goes back to the pre-Revolutionary days: making illegal likker.
And how could you not like a show with such colorful characters as moonshiner Tim Smith, his teenaged son and a real character nicknamed Ticker, all of them adept at turning corn mash into a highly potent drink.
Arrainged against this gang who couldn't shoot straight there's intrepid agent Jesse Tate from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Let's just style this outing a variant on Feudin', Fightin' and A-Fussin' and be done with it.
Of course as with all "Unreality" shows there are times when one wonders why this gang is behaving illegal right right in front of the obliging camera crew.
If Jesse ever does get 'em will he also arrest the crew for aiding and abetting? Just wondering.
I always wondered how illegal whiskey was brewed. Now I know. It's a complicated process that begins with the boys trying to find some mountain stream that can produce the cold, fresh water so necessary for the great tasting whiskey.
And we watch them laboriously make the still which is complicated, brew the mash just so, and finally bottle the product.
All the while strange airplanes are spotted overhead --could it be the Virginia agents out to bust up the operation.
In the dead of night dogs barking in the distance are another indication the long arm of the law may be advancing.
Best darned character by far is fabled moonshiner Popcorn Sutton who avers he's been drinkin' and smokin' since he was six and it doesn't seem to have affected him save that he's plumb crazy as a fox.
Am I giving something away by telling you that Popcorn committed suicide a whole back rather than serve a 18-year sentence for making the illegal brew.
Popcorn is a true Reality original just like Pa Kettle --his overalls, scruffy appearance, his drawl. I'm missing him already.
In the next generation only Tickle could supply such magnificent characterizations mainly because he never appears to be sober if he can help it. Heck, Popcorn and Tickle could only happen in the land of the free and the home of the gun.
Like all Reality outings everything seems suspiciously set up --and it is. The state of Virginia has even claimed it was all film flammury and no actual moonshine was brewed.
Is Virginia saying Dog The Bounty Hunter or Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Real Housewives is sometimes staged? Oh the effrontery!
Best scene in the first hour had Smith stopped on a narrow road by a suspicious farmer and his large wife who was totting the rifle and wearing the pants in that family. The fact it was a public highway made no difference to this couple. Smith obligingly turned his truck around and vamoosed as fast as he could.
And that scene was scary, hardly staged I'm imagining.
MY RATING: ***.