Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Seasons For Reality TV

I sometimes feel all of American TV these days is composed of reality series.
And already reality shows are racing back early for fall previews to beat the conventional networks.
First up is Counting Cars which is actually the third spinoff of a History staple Pawn Stars.
The format is similar whether it is spin off number one American Restoration or spinoff two Cajun Pawn stars.
The first new episode revs up Monday August 26 at 10 p.m on HIstory.
And the very next night there's the granddaddy of them all Pawn Stars which returns the very next night (Tuesday at 9) also on History.
Like Pawn Stars Counting Cars is filmed in Las Vegas and looks at the goings on at Count's Customs which is an automobile customization business operated by Danny Koker --who first appeared on TV as a guest expert on --you guessed it --Pawn Stars.
The first episode looks at the effort to restore the car once owned by Bob Marley which has been disintegrating in a locker for the past two decades.
We get to learn all that goes into a restoration --how parts are hard to come by and when alternates can be used and when not.
We also get to visit with Marley's doting son  Ziggy who is financing the reboot but insists hemp be used as much as possible in the interiors.
And all this is juxtaposed with the other restoration as an elderly couple want their Ford pick up redone but on a tight $20,000 budget.
We even see a guy come in with a prized antique buzz saw who wants it all gussied up so he can mount it over his fire place.
The format on these shows always includes an artificial deadline that must be met complete with mini biographies of the other contestants.
So we get to meet "Horny Mike" who is one of the great airbrush artists around, Roli, the shop's detailer, Big Ryan, a gargantuan parts expert and manager Scott.
I watched the first two new episodes which I thought chock full of history lessons. But this show hardly ranks as compulsively viewable.
Next night at 9 on History there's the return of Pawn Stars. Not my favorite reality opus but with Dog The Bounty Hunter cancelled I have to make do with other shows.
Also made by Leftfield Pictures and also filmed in Vegas, it takes place at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.
The undoubted star is amiable history buff Rick Harrison who always has his father in tow --I'm not sure who actually owns it. Then there's grandson Cory and Cory's best bud the hugely stupid Chumley.
Now I like watching this one because it offers bit sized nuggets of history.
Like in the first new episode titled "Lost And Found" we get to see the difference between a pirate's chest and a bride's dowry chest.
There's also a guy who walks in with lithographs of Chagall and Miro and experts are called in and we see what an astounding price these can fetch.
I like it when the experts weigh in and how they can spot a fake from an original.
The whole episode is shot in quick takes with lots of characters appearing and some of them get quite ticked off when the claims of authenticity are called into question.
These seedy characters are quite wonderful. I know the encounters are "fixed" somewhat but this one does not irritate me as Storage Wars often seems to do.
And I know Pawn Stars must be a hit because of all the imitations out there including Hardcore Pawn.
In fact Pawn Stars is so popular there are even guest stars --first up it's Steve Carell who manages to mix things up comically with Rick before making his hefty purchase.

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