Celebrity Hit Man, Complete Season One DVD Box Set: A Review That Could Happen
by J. Chris Rock
The glamorous bloodshed of Celebrity Hit Man has finally come to DVD, and not a hunted heartbeat too soon, in my opinion. When this show debuted on FOX, I immediately blocked out my Wednesday nights. No calls were answered. Meals were picked at distractedly in front of the TV. Celebrity Hit Man had it all. Big stars. Brutal, real-life killings. The thrill of the hunt and the agony of a showbiz career publicly scraping rock fucking bottom.
In case you've been pinned under a boulder for the past six months, a boulder far from any TV, here's how Celebrity Hit Man works. Your favorite stars compete against each other in a game of urban assassination. The hits are on organized crime thugs and the whole show is endorsed by the FBI. How they got around the courts, the ACLU, Amnesty International and the Screen Actors Guild, we’ll never know.
Each celebrity is mentored by a professional hit man, and each hit is scored by a panel of judges on the following.
Positive points for:
Negative points for:
- Killing style
- Minimizing police involvement
The judges are Vitty "Two Nose" Pugliosi, Enrique "The Jackal" Estanos, and Magaret Cho.
- Not getting the kill
- Sloppiness (literal and figurative)
- Collateral damage
With that, the stage is set for Reality TV gold. First off, whoever runs casting for the FBI should get an Emmy. The sacks of crap they pick to get whacked make it easy for the entire family to get behind cold-blooded murder. In episode two, when America's golf buddy John O' Hurley blasts a massive hole through his first target, my six-year-old cheered. She knew the guy was a convicted pedophile who beat his wife and was extorting the corner Salvation Army thrift store. I haven't seen casting that good since Dustin Hoffman was tapped for Tootsie.
Speaking of celebrities, Hit Man slaughters Surreal Life or any of the VH1 barrel scrapers. It even rivals Dancing With The Stars in terms of marquee. In the first season alone you've got Maria Carey, Ashton Kutcher, K-Fed, George Hamilton, Barry Bonds, Tila Tequila, P. Diddy, John McEnroe and CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. (Rumor has it Omarosa mailed herself to the FBI in an attempt to get a part. Unfortunately, they took her clever but misguided sales pitch of "Careful: Male Bomb" on the label seriously and detonated the box in the parking lot.)
I was hooked when Hit Man first aired and I'm still hooked now, watching this nicely packaged box set. The hits aren't even the best part. It's about the bitchy in-fighting for immunity, the egomaniacal freakouts and what are ultimately the only important eliminations -- the purging from the spotlight, one by one, of once-were-stars. Not to mention the surprise exits. Mimi’s diva walkoff after breaking a nail on a sniper hit. Demi Moore showing up and dragging Ashton off the set like a pissed-off but fantastically maintained grandmother. And P.Diddy flipping shit to his mentor only to find himself face-to-ass on the pavement, bleeding heavily and off the show.
But the real draw of the box set is getting to see the infamous last episode in its never-aired entirety. Again, a bit of background for the under-the-boulder crowd. The penultimate episode narrowed the field to George Hamilton and Christiane Amanpour. The final assignment was to kill, without the help of their mentor, a Made man -- by hand.
The final episode starts de rigueur with George and Christiane getting their assignments, doing a little trash talk (George's smirky imitation of Amanpour saying "Reporting live from Loserville, I'm Loser McLoserton" was spot on) and eventually stalking their prey as we follow along in greeny grainy night vision. George offs his guy in pure kitschy Hamilton style, garroting the fat bastard without ever lowering his right eyebrow. And Christiane does just fine at first, slipping through security, getting into her target's bedroom and knifing him before he knows what hits him.
But here's where things turned weird on the broadcast version. The show immediately cut from Christiane hunched in the dark over her kill, eyes glowing a wicked, phosphorescent green...to George in a bright, live-audience ceremony, being capped top Celebrity Hit Man by Margaret Cho. He smiled and waved to the screaming fans and confetti dropped from somewhere and...that was it. No mention of our midnight-haired beauty, the Persian Panther, as Amanpour was known on the chatboards. Nada, though she was the most ruthless and skilled of the two, and certainly scored style points over Hamilton's ascot parade.
Scandal, instantaneous. Obfuscation from the world's most capable obfuscators, the FBI and FOX. Before the final episode aired there was buzz online about Christiane's whereabouts—as in, no known. Now, with the clearance of the government and the Amanpour estate, the Celebrity Hit Man box set reveals that final night in full.
Having heard the rumors, I decided to watch the episode after my daughter's bedtime, and soon added that decision to the embarrassingly short list of smart moves in my life. The uncut scene is an unnerving mash-up of The Manchurian Candidate and Blair Witch, Fear Factor under black helicopters.
Immediately after knifing her target, Amanpour goes after the camera crew, raving about a conspiracy and how she was being groomed to assassinate several world leaders and "those creepy, anthropomorphic M and M things." She downs two of the crew, including the sound guy, before being wrestled to the ground. As the silent footage rolls on, five men in unattractive cable-knit sweaters come into the room, hood Amanpour and carry her out. It's the last known footage of her. The uncut version ends with a simple title: "On this fateful night, our dear Christiane suffered from an overdose of Robitussin Cough DM and is currently enjoying a rest in the tropics. Thank you all for your letters and concern."
I mean, what more do you want from Reality TV? Celebrity egos unchained, murder and insanity and secret government plots to off popular spokescandies. I can’t wait for Season Two. I hear the Lachey brothers go head-to-head.
It's surprisingly fun to watch vacuous celebrities pretend to care about their mentors' plans while obviously mentally picking out their wardrobe.
High-quality autopsy photos of the kills. The interactive Dig Out The Bullet game sucks.
Includes a hilarious scene of K-Fed practicing his quick-draw and accidentally shooting the earlobe off a production assistant.
Judges Beating Losers With A Baseball Bat:
Deemed "prurient violence" by network censors, these unaired scenes let you see what happens to the celebrities when they're eliminated from competition. Namely, the judges take them out back and beat them with baseball bats. Who knew Cho had such a wicked swing?
J. Chris Rock attended the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and works in advertising to pay for things like food, shelter and iTunes downloads. His earliest attempt at writing was in the sixth grade, a play based on the popular premise, at the time, of Who Shot JR. It failed because none of the actors wanted to skip recess to rehearse. You can find more of him in Hobart, the Science Creative Quarterly, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Yankee Pot Roast and Barrelhouse online.