Billy The Exterminator: Season 1 (2009)

DVD Cover (A&E Home Video)
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Overall Rating 62%
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Review by Chad
Added: September 05, 2011
I love Netflix. I am constantly on the prowl for new stuff to watch, and having had my cable television cut off about ten years ago, there are a lot of TV shows out there that I have never heard of or never had a chance to check out. I catch up on a lot of these shows through Netflix, and normally, I tap out after one or two episodes since the shows just don't do anything for me. However, there is the rare occasion where I will stumble across something that simply puts a smile on my face and gets me hooked, and Billy the Exterminator is one such case.

It is yet another in a long line of reality shows, and this one centers around the Vexcon Animal and Pest Control company in Benton, Louisiana. The company does exactly what you would expect an exterminator company to do: they get calls about pests and wild animals on people's property, and they send someone out to handle it. Since the show takes place in Louisiana, you can imagine the wide variety in the calls that they get: we see them take care of alligators, bobcats, killer bees, and beavers, along with the more "normal" calls such as wasps, roaches, snakes, and raccoons.

The vast majority of the show focuses on Billy Bretherton, the proprietor of the company, but it also finds time to throw his family into the mix. His mother Donnie acts as the dispatcher, his brother Rick tags along for some of the calls, his wife Mary also tags along and handles some of the office work, and his father Big Bill... well, his father is just sort of there and doesn't do a whole lot, at least in this first season. Maybe that changes in later seasons, I haven't seen them yet and can not say.

I initially laughed at the show, as Billy and his family are very odd dressers. Billy himself sports a spiked mullet and is always wearing black leather and / or numerous pieces of silver jewelry, and honestly, he looks like a combination between a Hot Topic goth tween and a punk wannabe who is stuck in the eighties. His family isn't quite as daring in their clothing choices, but they certainly scream "White Trash" at a quick glance. However, if you stick with the show for a couple of episodes, you will quickly discover that Billy is actually pretty smart and knows what he is doing. He is not just some dumb hick heading out with assorted sprays and traps, and he also has a huge heart: he only kills animals if he absolutely has to, and he instead tries to release everything back into the wild (away from his customer's property, of course). His charisma definitely helps keep the viewer interested, even when they are heading out to another routine call.

Of course, the calls are the real highlight of the show, and it was fun seeing him head out to the wilds of Louisiana to deal with people's problems. Watching him figure out ways to catch gators, safely spray huge amounts of wasps without getting stung, and exterminate mountains of fire-ants in the middle of a gator farm certainly kept things interesting. There are generally two customer calls per show, and with the exception of a few that seemed redundant (how many times do we need to see mice infestations?), the show definitely kept me entertained. On a personal note, having stayed in Shreveport (the city they generally service) for a while, it was fun seeing some of the local landmarks and stores again.

The only real complaint that I have about the show is that it is a reality show. You see, I would have been fine with the basic elements of a reality show: here's a family that also runs a business, here is said family running their business, repeat for thirteen episodes. Apparently, I am in the minority with that statement, as the producers felt the need to try to spice things up with various family issues sprinkled throughout the episodes. For example, we get to watch Ricky deal with his ex-wife, we witness drama between Billy and his wife, we get to sit through mother dearest attempting to set Ricky up with a new girlfriend, and other assorted things of this nature. All of this is heavily scripted and rehearsed, and maybe it's just me, but I had absolutely zero interest in this element of the show. In my humble opinion, it dragged down the entertainment level of the episodes it appeared in without fail.

Thankfully, that sort of thing isn't as prevalent here as it is in other shows. I didn't count, but I'd guess that there were only two or three episodes that heavily featured reality drama, with another three or four that dabble in it for a few minutes of their respective running times. I hope that trend continues in the next three seasons, as it is really the only thing I could see ruining my overall enjoyment of the show. The characters are entertaining and watching them handle the calls is fun, and while it's certainly not a show that everybody on the planet would be interested in, I definitely got some enjoyment out of it. 8/10.
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