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'Duck Dynasty:' Are they 'animal serial killers?'

As you know, Morrissey called the "Duck Dynasty's"  Robertson boys "animal serial killers" the other day, then backed out on "Jimmy  Kimmel Live," and we in the TV trade had a one-day story. (Also, see this post from "Kimmel.") Beyond the fact that it's utterly amazing Morrissey even KNEW what a "Duck Dynasty" is, this does raise the question: Are they?

It never even occurred to me to raise this question in my review posted today, for tonight's third season return of TV's hottest reality show -- seriously, it is the hottest -- but the show, while hardly sensitive to animal rights activists, doesn't seem to glorify the act of killing ducks either. (Doves come under fire tonight.) Nevertheless, birds do fall.

So, an oversight on my part? No -- this is hunting. It happens in America, you may have heard. And the ducks are indeed eaten. The show's appeal is obvious though (see the review, below): A reflection of a part of the culture most of us never see, as cast in a humorous, largely benign light. Plus, the Robertson dudes are funny.

"Duck Dynasty"

WHEN|WHERE Season premiere Wednesday night at 10 on A&E

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The third season of the A&E series about the Robertsons, a hirsute family that made a fortune manufacturing duck whistles down on the Bayou, begins on the eve of duck hunting season. The boys have an idea! Before heading out to blast the sky with buckshot, they decide they must first "rough it" by camping out, although they have varying ideas about what "camping" involves. Si, Phil's younger brother, figures his nephews Willie and Jase will do fine in the woods because they could "survive a zombie apocalypse: Not much to eat and they don't have much brains." In the second part of tonight's two-parter, Willie and his wife, Korie, prepare for a 20th anniversary high school reunion.

MY SAY Can 6.5 million viewers be wrong -- or the 61/2 million who watched the second season finale of "Duck Dynasty," making it A&E's single biggest hit in history? Hell, yeah. They're wrong all the time. But probably not in this case. "Duck" came out of nowhere -- a lone goose, just to mix metaphors, that plopped out of the sky right into A&E's unsuspecting lap. The show is huge, ridiculously, preposterously huge, and the question "why" is a fair one. Good ol' boy swamp rats who made big bucks from duck whistles, then launch TV's looniest surprise success of the moment? In fact, the Robertson clan has what any decent reality show family should have and what the Osbournes once had: A sense of humor about themselves and a sense of where the camera is pointing. They are so TV savvy, so glib, so effortlessly funny at the exact right moment that you may wonder how much of this reality show is "real" and how much is canned. It's probably a mix, but it almost doesn't matter. The Robertsons -- Jace and Si, in particular -- have in abundance of what many professional actors don't: A born-to-the-camera charm that is just about effortless. Based on tonight's first two episodes, the "Duck" dudes are about to get even bigger.

BOTTOM LINE Still amusing and inoffensive -- unless you happen to be a duck. GRADE B   

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