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A&E Home Video presents
Inked: The Best of Season One (2005)

Dizzle: Were you nervous on your first tattoo?
Thomas Pendelton: No. I was drunk.

- Dizzle, Thomas Pendelton

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 24, 2006

Stars: Carey Hart, Thomas Pendelton, Clark North
Other Stars: Dizzle, Quinn, Twig, Monica, Eric "Big E" Pele, Twig, Rick "Papa" Walters, Jon Huntington
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:56m:00s
Release Date: January 31, 2006
UPC: 733961744507
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+B-B- D+

DVD Review

I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of reality television—in fact I generally despise it—but this summer 2005 A&E series about the inner workings and turmoil found in a Las Vegas tattoo parlor seemed weird enough to pique my curiosity.

The series is set in the Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company, which has the distinction of being the first tattoo shop to open up inside a Vegas casino, in this case the Palms. As is de rigueur for participants in reality television, everyone from the owners to the artists to the customers are an eccentric lot, bristling with enough bold personality quirks to not only make them identifiable as characters, but yet able to provide the right amount of friction and confrontation so that the day-to-day goings on will supposedly be entertaining for viewers. Because it's just not fun if everybody gets along swimmingly and there isn't some degree of high drama to hook an audience.

Everyone who works at the shop looks the part, and at one point someone refers to the staff as "the hoodlums of the hotel," and it's clear they seem to relish their required role as colorful. left-of-center tattoo characters in the polished, shiny Palms shopping area. Black clothes and plenty of body ink are the order of the day, from owner Carey Hart (who is referred to as a "motorcross legend" and looks like he could be the fourth member of Blink 182) to ditzy receptionist Quinn, and the eyepatch on old-school artist Clark North would seem like a cheesy affectation if this were a movie, but on him it's legit, it does look cool and it somehow adds to the ambiance of the series. The focal point throughout is spiky-haired Thomas Pendelton, the so-called "face" of the shop, an outspoken, brash, brazen artist with more than a casual interest in the success of the Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company.

For some odd reason, A&E has chosen to condense the 25 half-hour episode season down to this "best of", represented by just eight episodes, presented here out of sequence from original airdate. Maybe as a marketing tool this is just designed to attract new viewers to the second season (if there is one), because I would think fans of the show would want the entire first season, though I then have to question the rewatchability of a reality series in the first place. And it's not like there's a special plus for fans, because all of the obscenities are still bleeped out here, and the occasional in-store nudity is blurred. So I'm left to wonder what the attraction is for existing Inked fans to want to pick this up, especially given A&E's propensity to rerun programs on a regular basis.

The structure of each episode has an underlying storyline, such as punky shop apprentice Dizzle's first tattoo, the possible closing of the shop for good, or a new assistant manager that just isn't working out. In between these varying bits of implied drama, there's bickering and in-fighting as personalities bump up against each other, and there's also the stories of the occasional customers.

It's the brief customer segments that I found to be the most interesting after a while, not because I sometimes tired of the swagger and posturing of the staff, but because quite often the reasons for getting a particular tattoo is connected to a very personal story. Sure, some (like the drunk girl who likes to have her butt slapped or the busty woman who seems to be propositioning Clark North) are suggestively prurient, but some (a cancer survivor or the cop getting a tattoo designed by a fallen comrade) reveal the personal nature of why people get the designs they get. And I almost think that would be a more fascinating series.

The eight episodes on this set are presented out of sequence from their original airdate. They are:

Pull It Together, Dizzle
Original Airdate: 07/20/2005

The Trouble with Quinn
Original Airdate: 07/27/2005

Love on the Rocks
Original Airdate: 08/03/2005

Get a Leg Up, Thomas
Original Airdate: 09/14/2005

The Big E-vent
Original Airdate: 08/17/2005

Trouble in Paradise
Original Airdate: 10/12/2005

Change of Hart
Original Airdate: 07/20/2005

Old School, Nu Skool
Original Airdate: 09/28/2005

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The eight episodes collected here are all presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame. For a show shot largely in and around a tattoo shop, the quality has that on-the-fly reality TV inconsistency. Edge detail is noticeably soft, though the overall image quality is very clean and devoid of any scratches or dirt. As with the audio, the studio-produced segue elements are understandably better, here represented by brighter reds and deeper blacks.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 stereo track provides clean and suitable on-location "field audio," while the canned interview segments used as segues have a deeper tonal quality to them. Strangely, my favorite part of the show is title song—a rocking power chord theme from Brahm Taylor—and here it lacks any substantive bottom end, which is inexcusable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 40 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Shop Talk: How To Talk Tattoo
Extras Review: Not much in the way of extras, save brief bios on Carey Hart, Thomas Pendelton, Clark North, Dizzle, Quinn, and Big E and a text-based dictionary of industry terms, such as cadaver and human larva, called Shop Talk: How To Talk Tattoo.

Each episode is cut into five chapters.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

If I'm going to watch a television series on DVD, I want the entire run, not just cherry-picked episodes like A&E has issued here. I think most DVD buffs like the words "the complete season," as opposed to "best of." And to make matters even more disruptive to my system, the eight episodes on this collection are not presented in their original airdate sequence.

The adventures of a high-profile Las Vegas tattoo parlor offers some wacky side stories, and all of the individuals are certainly colorful in their own right, but this snapshot set just seems incomplete.


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