The new A&E network series "American Hoggers" featuring Brown County resident Jerry Dean Campbell and his family has received positive reviews nationwide, to go along with good ratings on viewership.
The show made its premier at 9 p.m. last Wednesday on A&E, and Campbell and his wife Kathleen along with others were flown to Hollywood, Calif., for the event.
The second episode will be aired on A&E at 9 p.m. Wednesday this week, with repeats scheduled on subsequent days.
"When we arrived at Saddle Ranch at Universal Studios, there were about 75 people at a party they held for us," Campbell said Monday. "Most of them were film crew and executives from original productions. When we walked in we got a standing ovation. Tom Beers, owner and CEO of Original Productions, told us the show has excellent ratings and that he looks forward to a long future with the Campbell family."
With the Campbells in California at the premier were Shirley Day of Brownwood, Larry Whitfield of Blum, and Tina Osborn, formerly of Brownwood.
The series stars are Campbell, 64, his son Robert, 28, and his daughter Krystal, 23. Much of the show is being filmed in Brown County.
"American Hoggers" turns out to be a remarkably straight-forward show, almost closer to a documentary," David Hinckley wrote last week in a review for the New York Daily News. "The Campbells are likable enough. Jerry... (is) someone you can't imagine outside Texas, while Robert is serious about his job and Krystal has some flair."
"Think for a moment about the message you're sending to Marg Helgenberger, Emily VanCamp and Mariska Hargitay," Neil Genzlinger wrote in the New York Times. "You're telling these lovely and presumably hard-working actresses, who all have shows in the same time slot, ‘I'd rather look at hogs than look at you.' ... All this is interesting enough to watch."
But he wrote that he wishes that more subplots like sibling rivalries and simmering romance had been developed in the first show. A review of upcoming programs on the A&E website, www.aetv.com, suggests at least some of that type of drama lies ahead.
Neal Justin of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis included "American Hoggers" in his "TV Critic's Picks" for last week. "The family that hunts together stays together," Justin wrote. "That's the premise of the new reality series ‘American Hoggers,' which follows the plucky Campbell family as it goes after wild boars destroying Texas property."
Some of the reviewers continue to describe Jerry Campbell as a former Texas Ranger, an erroneous statement that showed up on a website promoting the series last summer and apparently cannot be dispelled despite Campbell's continued corrections.
The show is not without its detractors.
TMZ reported that PETA is angry with the manner in which the hogs are "tied up and shot" on the show. PETA released a statement that both acknowledges that feral pigs are problematic in parts of Texas, but that the organization still takes exception with how their actions are shown on television.
Wild hogs cause an estimated $50 million is losses to agriculture each year in Texas.
The program's reviewers in New York said the extent of the feral hog problem may come as a surprise to city dwellers, many of whom face a similar issue with smaller creatures - rats. In his New York Times report, Genzlinger said it seems unlikely that the Campbell family alone will be able to "save Texas from these four-legged demons. ... this sounds like a job for the military."