|Can you handle the truth? If you're Mickey Mouse, George Will, a Philip Morris executive, or any one of the corporate no-good-doers who pollute the environment, abandon their customers, or cheat their workers, best be on your guard: Michael Moore has got your number, or at the very least, your home address! Moore, muckraking journalist, guerilla filmmaker (Roger & Me), and all-around nonpartisan offender, follows up his Emmy-winning, albeit short-lived, TV series TV Nation with this even more confrontational series that can be seen on Bravo ("Between the Playboy Channel and Cartoon Network"). This set contains all the episodes from the show's premiere season. It is perhaps the most outrageous television you have never seen. The series is much more than Moore "going in someplace to bug somebody." There is method to Moore's madness. His outrage is palpable as he shames an insurance company into paying for a customer's life-or-death pancreas transplant by staging the man's mock funeral outside corporate headquarters. At the height of Monica-gate, Moore shows Washington, D.C., what a real witch-hunt looks like, complete with shrieking costumed Pilgrims. Other season 1 highlights include the return of Crackers, the plucky Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken, who visits Disneyland to advise Mickey Mouse about Disney's alleged unfair labor practices. Moore also spreads holiday jeer inside Philip Morris by leading a choir of cigarette-ravaged carolers, each of whom must use a voice box. The Awful Truth is not for the faint of heart (or conservatives, for that matter). As Moore remarks after a segment in which his "Gay Team" cruises America in a pink Sodommobile, "We'll never be back on NBC now." You go, Mike!
In the sophomore season, Moore rails against politics as usual and exposes what he calls your "basic, everyday, run of the mill evil corporations." The Awful Truth was anything but comfort television, as witness the episode "Compassionate Conservative Night," in which "Team Dow" and "Team Nasdaq" engage in such contests as "Dunk the Homeless" and "Pie the Poor." In another segment, Moore launches an orange day-glow wallet exchange program after a spate of shootings in which police mistook African American victims' wallets for firearms. Moore makes hay with the 2000 presidential election. In one audacious segment, he offers his support to any candidate who will jump into the Awful Truth's portable mosh pit. George W. Bush's response, "Go find real work," made its way into Fahrenheit 9/11. Only Alan Keyes is game, incurring attacks by the other candidates during a televised debate. In this series' version of a Very Special Episode, Moore presents a short film he directed, "The Choice," in which Moore runs a Ficus plant against an unopposed candidate for the New Jersey House of Representatives. Throughout the season, Moore plants the seeds that will pollinate in his two controversial cross-over theatrical documentaries. Anticipating Bowling for Columbine, one segment takes aim at the NRA with the introduction of a new gun mascot, Pistol Pete, a costumed weapon, who is summarily tossed out of a Las Vegas gun show, NRA headquarters, and our nation's capitol. Moore also turns up the temperature on then-Texas Governor George W. Bush in a segment that pits the man who would be president against his brother Jeb to see which of their respective states, Texas or Florida, will prevail in the number of executions. For a brief and shining moment, the revolution was televised. At 30 minutes an episode, The Awful Truth remains swift (or Swiftian) satire. For fans, this two-disc set will complete the Moore manifesto, and give more ammunition to his critics. --Donald Liebenson