Produced for the History Network (really?), "Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy" is at once a new brand of reality show and completely reliant on a successfully proven formula. Anyone who has seen "Dirty Jobs" or a myriad of similarly themed entertainment will realize that Larry is trying to put a comedic twist on the concept. Traveling the country, Larry embarks on hosting misadventures that make the most of his countrified persona. But unlike other shows, Larry always remains a character--it is reality television built around a fictional construct. In the first ten episodes of Season One (this is NOT the full season, only Volume One), Larry makes moonshine, goes to the swamp, shoots guns, gets the horns, breeds mules, races dogs, gets a gator, goes trucking, is an astronaut, and rides with a motorcycle gang. Larry embraces each task willingly poking gentle fun at the subject, at himself, and/or at his guides. Genial and folksy, it's easy enough to like the program--I'm just not sure if the show is particularly revelatory. In truth, I learned little and some of the destination points seemed rather expected.
If you like Larry's brand of humor, though, it's all pleasant enough--if somewhat tame and appropriately respectful. While each show has a central activity (mentioned in the list above), that is but one section of the show. Most episodes feature between three to four different topics--usually in no way related to one another. For example, Larry Makes Moonshine starts with an interesting topic--how the illegal moonshine runners helped developed modern day Nascar. Larry works the still, transports the product, and makes the leap to contemporary racing. It's all interesting if not detailed enough to be really enlightening. The remaining segments in this show feature Larry visiting Emily Post's homestead for a lesson on etiquette and going to a frog jumping contest. Both sequences are nice enough and are played for gentle amusement, but are rather lacking on any real history or content.
As fun, fans of Larry the Cable Guy should certainly appreciate his antics throughout this show. If, however, you're looking for in-depth insight about offbeat American culture and actual history, this is all a bit lightweight. Fine for entertainment, the DVD should find enthusiasts that perhaps don't partake of the History Channel. It all boils down to expectations. Somehow, I think that most people that purchase the two DVD set will be pre-existing supporters of Larry--and I think that the show will meet their expectations. For me, I thought the show was engaging enough. I just wished for a few more surprises. I'd certainly recommend it, though, for those that enjoy seeing those peculiar local festivals and oddities throughout the country. KGHarris, 8/11.