As I get older I am often reminded of the old days of television. There were three major networks and major limitations as to what was available for viewing. My how the times have changed! Now with the access of hundreds of networks and channels there are hundreds of options. Between the History Channel and the Fox Movie Channel and from Spike TV to A&E, there are ample selections on the tube where virtually every household can find something to keep them happy. My family enjoys several cable channels and thankfully with the advent of TIVO and the DVR we can watch that programming and wiz through the commercials. One of the shows we enjoy on A&E is Billy The Exterminator.
A&E has just released Season 3 of Billy The Exterminator. It has a growing audience and while one may wonder what is so good about a reality show with a focus on a family which runs an extermination company in Louisiana; one only has to tune into one episode to see the shows uniqueness. The company featured in the show is; Vexcon and is owned by Billy and his family, The Bretherton’s. The family dynamics and Billy’s methods are a part of the draw. Billy dresses in leather and he and his brother, Rickey, look more like an 80’s hair band than they do the operators of an extermination company. Between the dynamics of the family’ a father with health issues to his wife who operates the office and their spouses who are sometimes brought into the field to deal with things like snakes or spiders which they may have a fear of. Each episode deals with the dynamics in such a way that has the viewer realizing the pests around the house from cockroaches to rodents may be in need of extermination from a professional. The uniqueness of Vexcon is that the company prefers, when possible, to relocate the animals and operate under environmentally save methods with respect for the animals.
For a television show, Billy The Exterminator is quite well done. While the television show has the tendency to be burdensome due to the commercials, the DVD’s provide a more enjoyable experience than even the DVR and TIVO. The editing and flow of the show is nicely done and each show has a minimal plot focus. Normally it deals with either issues in the family or issues with the family in need of extermination services. The cinematography is quite exceptional and one of the benefits of the DVD is the special features show the dangers often involved, not just for the cast but the crew. When exterminating for thousands of bees, all are at risk, including those doing the filming. One of the misperceptions is that reality programming isn’t scripted; we see that in fact at least for this show, it is in fact, scripted as there are prevailing themes highlighted each week.
Season 3 of Billy The Exterminator does not have nearly as much focus on the extended family outside of the boys and their parents. While various extended characters are featured in the credits and opening scenes, there are some of them that are not in the program at all. Some of this is likely due to the conflicts that were portrayed on screen in previous seasons and in the personal and private lives of the characters. We do see some good footage of Billy, Rickey and their parents and as a regular viewer, I was just fine with that.
One of the things I appreciate about the show is the uniqueness of this family. While the parents, Bill Sr. and Donnie are more old-fashioned, we see some of their parental influence having an impact on their children. Bill Sr. and Donnie are active church members and their office is decorated with symbols of faith such as crosses. We see in one episode where they are on their way home from church where they decide to go out of their way to help a friend. The friend has a snake loose in their house and even though Donnie is scared of snakes she goes out of her way to help. She is willing to make sacrifices for those she loves. Then we see in various episodes Billy and Rickey who don’t seem to have a strong indication of their spirituality, yet we see numerous episodes where they are willing to help others in difficult situations, often not charging those they have helped. There is an obvious appreciation for children and the elderly. Their compassion for the children, elderly, poor and their communities is one of the things that drive my appreciation for the show. The stereotypes people often have based on dress, style, and look is addressed in the show. We see all people have potential and they can and sometimes do, help others. The conflict based on appearance versus the willingness to accept help from someone different is an ongoing theme. Billy and his brother, despite their look are able to show people from different backgrounds that love is possible for all people in all situations. Love is not based on how one looks. If we are willing to get by the initial impression, we can quickly learn that love is displayed by what one does.
I like Billy The Exterminator. I liked it long before getting Season 3 for review. I don’t especially have an interest in the extermination business and while there seems to be an awful lot of roaches, bees, and the like to remove from the North Western Part of Louisiana, at least for now, I haven’t gotten tired of seeing Vexcom on their extermination jobs. I haven’t gotten tired of it because it seems like A&E understands the concept of developing characters, providing a little education, and having a show that does more than show how an extermination company works. A&E understands the concepts of why it is important to show how cultures can intertwine with positive results.
The DVD offered some decent special features worth watching. While there could have been more, it was satisfying. Season 3 of Billy The Exterminator is a fun show to watch, but it also has its touching moments. For fans of the show, it is definitely worth owning, for those who aren’t familiar with it; you will enjoy viewing it as a rental. A&E has provided a fun, decent, family oriented show. I hope it is around for a few more seasons and as the season’s progress, we continue to see the positive influence of parents on their children, in-laws and others around them. If A&E does this, I suspect Billy will be around for some time to come.
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