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Excuse my ignorance but I had never heard of Louis Theroux until I caught half of a documentary on BBC on crime in Johannesburg, which I found completely interesting. I then watched some other documentaries by Louis on BBC and I thought I would have a look if he has any DVD's out. I stumbled across The Collection and purchased it for Christmas last year.
I enjoyed nearly every documentary on the box set and I found the topics of the documentaries very interesting. The highlights for me was when he was doing a documentary on Wrestling and was actually taking part. One of the main advantages with Louis is that he gets involved with his topics, which works well for the viewers but not necessarily well for Louis or his topic which was proven with some of the reactions that he received during filming. Also, he's not afraid to ask high profile people questions which could upset them. He gets right under the skin of everyone which makes brilliant viewing.
Since, I have received the second box set which was equally as interesting and am looking to purchase the newest box set in the coming months. It was well worth purchasing this box set because I am now a huge fan of Louis Theroux and his work. I've never really been a fan of documentaries but this took me by surprise as it's one of my favourite things to watch now.
Overall, I would recommend Louis Theroux to anyone as it's worth watching as you may learn something. I would give this box set a 5/5 due to the fact that it's so interesting. Another advantage of the box set is the price which also contributes to the 5/5 rating, as it's only about £12 for four discs which is a remarkable price.
* BBC DVD
* 4-Disc Box Set
* Released in 2007
* UK BBFC Rating: 18 (suitable only for persons of 18 years and over)
* Subtitles: English for the Hard of Hearing
* Total Running Time (approx.): 13 hours 31 minutes
Louis Theroux: The Man
Louis Theroux is best known as a documentary maker specialising in films about off-beat, quirky subcultures around the world (but predominantly in the USA) and also for his celebrity profiles of some of Britain's more eccentric personalities.
He started out his television broadcasting career with a few segments on a documentary show by Michael Moore called 'TV Nation' in the mid-1990s. His first major series, Weird Weekends, was originally broadcast between 1998 and 2000. He followed this up with a series called 'When Louis Met...', originally aired on British television between 2000 and 2002. During 2003, Louis made three special episodes before disappearing from our screens for three years. In which time he signed a deal to make ten films for the BBC over the course of three years. To date, six of those films (including a two-parter) have been broadcast on television since the start of 2007.
His interviewing style is quite unique, mainly due to (what I think is) his natural personality. He appears very attentive, polite, unassuming, somewhat nerdy and at first sight not really like an interviewer. He can be wide-eyed, innocent in his questioning: which is a very restrained interrogation. He often gets involved in the subculture he's documenting which can be hilarious (considering his particularly lean physique, the Wrestling documentary being one).
Louis has the ability of allowing his subject to believe a certain naivety by asking questions where the answer is pretty obvious. Yet the answers to some of these questions can reveal so much about the person Louis is interviewing. It feels a lot like the subject thinks they have got good measure of Louis and he lets the viewers decide for themselves. It allows the viewer to interpret the response as they wish but Louis is very good at making it clear. His timing after asking a question is very good too. In certain interviews you can see the period of silence where he lets the person have time to either sweat it out or expand their answer, which appears to be a great way of getting that extra something out.
Of course, it does help that the people Louis is interviewing usually have a lot to say about themselves, the way they live their lives, or what they think of others. Like every great interviewer, he gets them to open up and say things and reveal more than they probably ever intended. Although it doesn't always work. In fact, one of his own favourite interviews (with Jimmy Saville) really doesn't shed the details that you can see Louis wants to find out; yet it is still a great episode (and one of my favourites too).
The DVD Collection:
This DVD box set includes films taken from the two series 'Weird Weekends', 'When Louis Met...' and some special episodes 'Louis And...' plus a bonus feature that includes segments by Louis from the series 'TV Nation'. The box set has been given an 18 certificate in the UK mainly due to the adult content of some of the episodes.
A warning for completists, this is not a comprehensive collection. There is a selection of 8 episodes from the 'Weird Weekends' series (17 were originally aired on TV), 5 episodes from the 'When Louis Met...' series (there were originally 7 shown on TV), and 2 special episodes entitled 'Louis And...' (there was a third special episode shown on TV). There is nothing here from his more recent (and current) series which began airing in early 2007. Although, this not particularly surprising as this collection was originally released in 2007.
The box set contains a small booklet with a 2-page message about the collection (written by Louis Theroux) and a page for each disc with a brief summary of each episode. I've taken short quotes and also paraphrased from these summaries for the list below.
Disc 1: Weird Weekends (4 episodes)
[Running time (approx.): 3 hours 15 minutes]
* Porn: Louis finds out what it takes to make it as a guy in the business in its capital, LA's San Fernando Valley. [approx. 49 minutes]
* Head For The Hills: Louis meets survivalists, white separatists and paranoid 'freedom fighters' in the American North West, arming themselves against the New World Order. [approx. 49 minutes]
* Swingers: Louis finds out about 'the lifestyle' in Southern California. [approx. 49 minutes]
* Black Nationalism: Louis goes to New York to meet the city's black nationalists and supremacists, just days after the NYPD shoot an unarmed black man. [approx. 48 minutes]
Disc 2: Weird Weekends (4 episodes)
[Running time (approx.): 3 hours 14 minutes]
* Wrestling: Louis takes a look at the 'sport' of extreme professional wrestling in the American South. [approx. 48 minutes]
* South Africa: Louis meets communities that want nothing to do with the new multi-racial nation. [approx. 50 minutes]
* Thai Brides: Louis joins the migration of Western men, attempting to find out what Thai women can offer that Western women can't, and how Western men make their choices. [approx. 48 minutes]
* Gangsta Rap: Louis storms the ghettos of the Dirty South to try to make it as the first white, middle-class gangsta rapper. [approx. 48 minutes]
Disc 3: When Louis Met... (4 episodes)
[Running time (approx.): 3 hours 13 minutes]
* When Louis Met Jimmy: Louis spends time with the man who once held the power over our childhood dreams, Sir Jimmy Saville OBE. [approx. 49 minutes]
* When Louis Met Chris Eubank: Louis tries to get behind the public persona of the great showman, former World Champion boxer, Chris Eubank. [approx. 48 minutes]
* When Louis Met Paul & Debbie: Louis spends a week with the veterans of sorcery, magician Paul Daniels and his wife, Debbie McGee. [approx. 49 minutes]
* When Louis Met Ann Widdecombe: Louis shadows Conservative MP, Ann Widdecombe, through the Tory leadership contest. [approx. 47 minutes]
Disc 4: When Louis Met... (1 episode); Louis And... (2 episodes); Special Features
[Running time (approx.): 3 hours 50 minutes]
* When Louis Met The Hamiltons: Louis gets caught up in a whirlwind of events surrounding former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his wife, Christine. [approx. 1 hour 18 minutes]
* Louis And The Nazis: Louis travels to California to meet some of the key personalities of the American neo-Nazi movement. [approx. 1 hour]
* Louis And The Brothel: Louis has a three-week stay at The Wild Horse Ranch in Nevada, America's newest legal brothel. [approx. 1 hour]
* Special Features: Four 'TV Nation' excerpts: 'Millennium'; 'Cops For Christ'; 'New Klan'; 'Jerusalem Syndrome'. [approx. 32 minutes]
Overall, I think this box set is brilliant. It covers a substantial amount of the best work of Louis Theroux from his two main series, a couple of special episodes with the added bonus of some of his early work on TV Nation. For that reason, I believe this box set is excellent value.
Although I enjoy watching them all because I am a big fan of Louis Theroux, my favourite episodes are 'Black Nationalism', 'Thai Brides', 'When Louis Met Jimmy' and 'Louis And The Nazis'.
It's not the perfect box set, I have two disappointments. Apart from the 30 minutes of special features on the fourth DVD, there are no extras in this collection. I would have liked to have seen a little more. Perhaps some 'behind the scenes' or 'deleted scenes' footage, commentaries or maybe a profile on Louis Theroux himself. Second, I think it is a shame that they were not allowed to include the episode 'When Louis Met Max Clifford'. In the small booklet in the box set Louis states that the exclusion was due to legal reasons, lack of signed release from Simon Cowell, who didn't appreciate the jokes!
I do wonder if there will be a more complete collection of each series produced in the near future, but I doubt it. There is already a box set of 4 DVDs for the series 'Weird Weekends' available, and that's incomplete too. So this is currently the most complete and, I feel, the best collection.
If you've not seen anything of Louis Theroux before, I would recommend watching some video clips of his shows first. The BBC has its own channel on the video website, YouTube. Check out the link below for a list of Louis Theroux clips (with no copyright infringement as they have been posted by the BBC).
Thank you for reading.
© tumblewheel, 2008 & 2009 (also posted on ciao.co.uk).
Louis Theroux is an odd little man. He immerses himself into the dankest corners of humanity and finds exactly that... Humanity. Underneath the neo-nazi beliefs of skinheads, there are families making it work. Underneath the cash-for-sex world of brothels, there are real people with real issues who really want to have sex for money.
This box set collects his earlier works including Weird Weekends, When Louis Met..., his stint with politicians and slebs, as well as his TV Nation stuff.
Theroux's natural in-offensiveness is his ultimate weapon on these encounters, he wanders around pretending to be a clueless infant whilst dumfounding even the most switched on of interviewees.
Sometimes Louis falls into the trap of being too fluffy when he needs to be hard-hitting, but thats a minor complaint in a sea of grand documentaries showing us how truly wacky them damn yanks are.
Basically, if you like watching television programmes which are not rubbish, I would recommend you watch this.