People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
  DVD Review: Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory - Season 1

I’m not even gonna mess around here, I love Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. I’ve been a fan of Dyrdek’s since his first MTV reality show, Rob & Big (I own all three seasons on DVD), and as much as I was initially a little skeptical about his new show (his dynamic with
his ex-bodyguard, Christopher “Big Black” Boykins having so much to do with Rob & Big’s appeal), sitting down with the first season of Fantasy Factory was a delight.

The premise of Fantasy Factory is that Rob Dyrdek is a pro skateboarder with disturbing amounts of money. As he expands his multimedia enterprise (which includes these MTV shows, movies, his own line of clothes under the DC banner, a toy line and more), he runs his various business out of a 25,000-square-foot L.A. industrial complex, a.k.a. the Fantasy Factory, is as much of a personal amusement park as it is a place of business. He’s got a set of steps and rails for himself and his pals to skate, a giant ramp in front of a pit of foam cubes (with a basketball net hanging over it so he can hit crazy shots while skating off the ramp into the pit), a collection of wacky vehicles, and, eventually, the tennis-ball cannon from the original American Gladiators. Episodes of Fantasy Factory typically begin with Dyrdek deciding to do something crazy or ambitious (build a new mini-skate park in downtown L.A., create a dance video for YouTube, swim with sharks, etc.), and the show then follows him making it a reality.

Dyrdek is basically a kinder, gentler, less sociopathic version of Bam Margera from Jackass; Rob constantly hassles and teases his younger cousin-slash-assistant, Drama (his real name’s Chris, but nobody calls him that), as well as his manager, Jeremy (who Rob has set up in the “corporate” wing of the Factory, complete with shutters over his windows for when Rob’s sick of hearing from him), his other cousin, Big Cat, his rapping receptionist Chanel, and Turbo, whose face is perpetually blurred because, well, Rob thinks it’s funnier that way. But where there’s a fairly creepy edge to Margera goofing on his family and friends in increasingly mean-spirited ways, Dyrdek comes off more as just an overgrown, silly kid who wants to use his incredible wealth and success to just have fun, and he doesn’t even have to resort to random violence to do it.

A lot of the fun of shows like this is dynamic between wacky characters like Rob and his supporting cast. In the case of Rob & Big, the pair had an interesting chemistry – suburban skate rat meets hip-hop man-mountain – and Black’s size, aside from making for great visual gags, also meant he kept Rob in check to a degree; if Black was really against one of his ideas, he had no problem saying it. Drama, on the other hand, is more of Rob’s lackey, and is often dragged into situations he doesn’t want to be in, but when your older cousin (and they clearly spent a lot of time growing up together) is also your boss, it makes it even harder to say no when he demands you jump a rally car with him over a 110-foot gap. Rob never really takes it too far though, and Drama’s snarky responses (“Think how fun it would be if we both roll. Think of the story we could tell our kids,” Rob tells Drama as he tries to convince him to ride shotgun for the rally car jump. “Think how bummed our family would be if we both die,” Drama responds) are usually just as funny as Rob’s random silliness.

Overall I found Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory hilarious, but maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. If you ask me why Dyrdek riding the world’s largest skateboard (certified by Guinness and everything) through Los Angeles is funny and not just stupid, well, I don’t really have an explanation for you. But if you can’t see the joy in a short pro skater wearing high-tech stilts to play one-on-one against L.A. Laker Lamar Odom, then I weep for you, for there is no joy in your heart.



There’s a nice collection of extras on the Fantasy Factory DVD, not the least of which is the fact that the audio is uncensored (i.e. now there’s cussing). At the risk of endangering my cred as a Serious Critic, I’d be lying if I said that the un-bleeped cursing didn’t make the show considerably funnier than it is on MTV. Also included is a bonus episode covering various behind-the-scenes shenanigans and outtakes, deleted scenes, and commentary from Dyrdek, his employees and the show’s creators on several episodes. It’s a nice, fun package for a nice, fun show.

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