SEASON PREMIERE "Duck Dynasty"
WHEN|WHERE Wednesday night at 10 on A&E
WHY TO WATCH Why, it's a weddin'! Cue the sentiment 'n' tears.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Zombies or rednecks? Which would you watch? Oh, heck, why choose? America sure doesn't. Viewers love them some "Walking Dead" -- AMC's zombie drama is cable's highest-rated show -- and they love them some Robertsons, too. The hirsute Louisiana clan of A&E's "Duck Dynasty" is cable's second-favorite attraction, all sibling rivalries, and men vs. wimmin whines, and fishin' breaks, and Uncle Si talkin' 'Nam again.
The beards help, and the bandanas, too, since I couldn't tell the brothers apart without 'em. To recap: Phil Robertson founded the Duck Commander duck call company; Son No. 3, Willie, is the college-boy CEO; Son No. 2, Jase, is the lazy bones; Son No. 4, Jep, is mom Miss Kay's favorite, and Uncle Si is what Phil calls "the logic vacuum" and we call "comic relief."
They do their backwoods bayou thing outside their new-money mansions with their cute blond wives, who say things like, "I need your credit card, babe." Tonight, they're staging the wedding-they-never-had for patriarch Phil and Miss Kay, which takes a plumb hour and adds to Season 4's cast the family's formerly unseen (and unbearded!) eldest son, pastor Alan.
MY SAY How much of this is real, or even "real"? The tight-tolerance editing, on-screen name/scene labels, woodsy music and "confessional" comments of the players are machined to within an inch of their lives. You can spot the gears of manufacture grinding behind "Duck Dynasty" more obviously than any laugh-track sitcom you've ever seen.
But complaining about the show's pre-fab structure is like shootin' fish in a barrel -- no point to ask what's-the-point, no fair to ponder whether it's fair, because you end up with dinner anyhow, and folks gonna gobble it.
"Duck Dynasty" is tasty enough. Just watch, or rather listen to, Si and Phil debate the name of the way-back girl who introduced the happy couple -- was it Debbie Gibson? -- as those syllables get compress- edited into a kind of haiku rap. Add a few well-timed banjo plucks, and you're in business. Top-rated cable business. Likable characters and precise production have now filled 42 progressively higher-rated A&E episodes in just the past year and a half (since its March 2012 premiere).
BOTTOM LINE How long till this dynasty's goose is (over)cooked?