The Best of Pawn Stars, subtitled "The Greatest Stories Ever Sold!" is an extremely disappointing, unimaginative rehash of (save one) previously released episodes. Lionsgate and the History Channel seem to have completely revamped their approach to releasing the series to DVD, and none of the decisions they are making are good ones.
The program (2009-present) was first offered as full season sets, but then became deliberately vaguely-defined "Volumes." It was Pawn Stars - Volume Three rather than "Season Three," with that set offering only the first 16 of that season's 28 episodes, billed as "fan favorites" (meaning the other 12 weren't?). Pawn Stars - Volume Four included the last ten episodes of season three and the first six of season four, while Pawn Stars - Volume 5, released more than a year ago, offered 16 more shows, all from the middle of season four (2011).
Since then, no more chronologically presented episodes and no "Volume 6." Instead, the History Channel and Lionsgate have released nothing but cheats: Pawn Stars: Rare Gems, and Pawn Stars: Genuine Articles, debuting this past January, apparently consist entirely of Season Two episodes, not new shows.
The Best of Pawn Stars more or less falls into this same category. The notably meager, eight-episode set includes "Secret Santa" (Season 2), "Rope-a-Dope" (Season 1), "Put Up Your Dukes" (Season 4), "Spooning Paul Revere" (Season 2), "Sharks and Cobras" (Season 2), "Pawn Shop Pinot" (Season 2), and "Pezzed Off" (Season 2), all previously released. The only heretofore unreleased episode (far as I can tell) is "The Pick, the Pawn & the Polish," a three-series crossover epic that begins as a July 2011 episode of American Pickers, continues as an episode of American Restoration, and concludes as an episode of Pawn Stars.
In a word I've managed to avoid in 1,773 reviews here at DVD Talk this is lame. Really, really lame. The predominance of Season Two shows, five of eight, means that most of The Best of Pawn Stars consists of material already released twice before. Supposedly these shows were "handpicked by the creators," but couldn't they have picked any from the 150 or so episodes produced since the middle of season four? Aren't the creators proud of anything they've done since?
For the uninitiated, the program follows the appraising and haggling of rare and oddball items at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, and whose TV fame clearly is attracting a higher caliber of collectible items. The shop is co-owned by Rick Harrison (who resembles Michael Chiklis) and his cantankerous, self-consciously colorful father, Richard ("the Old Man"). Together they're grooming Rick's son, Corey (also known as "Big Hoss"), to eventually run the store. But he and Corey's dim-witted pal Chumlee (even more self-consciously colorful than The Old Man) often get into trouble.
If you're thinking about selling a family heirloom, Pawn Stars is a good primer to learn a thing or two about the art of haggling. For instance, the seller is in a much better position to negotiate if he's done his research beforehand, finding similar items on the Internet and having some idea of just what it is he's trying to sell. Paperwork documenting the item's history is also useful. And, if you watch the show enough, it's pretty obvious what to reasonably expect.
If the various pawnbrokers actually want to buy your item, their usual first offer is between 40-45% of what they think they can sell it for. Too often sellers are told by the program's independent experts ("Let me call a buddy of mine who's an expert in this sort of stuff") that an item is worth, for example, between $3,000 and $5,000. When Rick then asks, "So, how much were you looking to get out of this item?" the seller almost invariably knee-jerk responds with, "$5,000!" Cut to Rick rolling his eyes or replying with a deadpan, "Ah, no."
What it boils down to are factors like the size of the item (too big or too vast and it becomes more trouble than it's worth; big items take up too much room while vast collections of toys and comic books are avoided because of the man-hours tied up trying to catalog everything), how quickly it can be sold, and the market for that particular item. (George Washington? Hot. Baseball cards? Ice cold.) Oftentimes customers will bring in something utterly fascinating but also too unique, so uncategorical that, neat as it is, there's just no market. To his credit, Rick is understandably leery of things like Nazi memorabilia, torture devices, and certain kinds of weapons, even though these items would probably sell.
If the shop does want to buy your item, that narrow range of 40-45% is about all one can reasonably expect. When a customer brings in something truly outstanding, Rick will go higher than 50%, up to around 75%, particularly if the item's value is pretty rock solid, like gold items, or if it's something he knows he can turn around and sell immediately.
It's also interesting watching the very different haggling tactics of Rick, Richard, and Corey. The Old Man uses his intimidating, imposing and poker-faced presence in an Old School haggler way that contrasts Rick and Corey. If the Old Man offers $100 for something and the customer counters with $150, the Old Man is apt to reply, "How about $50?"
Rick, on the other hand, grins like the Cheshire Cat and snickers just like this character to ease negotiations through awkward moments, and is always extremely polite even with customers trying to unload worthless junk ("But, gee - thanks for bringing this in to show me. It's really neat.") Corey, less experienced and neither as intimidating as the Old Man nor as smooth and sociable as his father, knows the numbers he has to work with (usually) but lacks their confidence. Rarely, for instance, does he look his customers in the eyes during critical bargaining moments.
Because one episode of Pawn Stars is about as good as any other, and because zero effort has been put into The Best of Pawn Stars (unimaginatively reissued shows, no introductions to episodes by the cast or creators explaining why these were chosen) I have nothing much new to say about these twice-recycled shows.
"The Pick, the Pawn & the Polish" (which would more aptly be titled "The Pick, the Polish & the Pawn," given the episode order) ties the three series together with the premise of Rick buying the Old Man a 1957 Chevy for his 70th birthday. The suspense, some of it probably exaggerated for its entertainment value, is that Rick supposedly needs the car, a rusted-out shell when discovered, fully restored in just three months. As seems to be the trend, this involves turning Rick into a demanding, hot-headed S.O.B. with the genial stars American Pickers and American Restoration, as well as Danny Koker, whose own Pawn Stars spin-off, Counting Cars, premiered last year. It's three shows in one and pretty entertaining, but don't expect the Old Man to bawl like a baby with emotion at the end.
Video & Audio
The Best of Pawn Stars is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen with 16:9 enhancement, in a transfer up to contemporary television standards, as is its 2.0 Dolby Stereo. This release includes subtitle options in both English and Spanish. The set is composed of eight episodes (counting crossover show as one) on two single-sided, dual-layered discs. No Extra Features.
Not a rip-off but pretty darn close, The Best of Pawn Stars is not recommended.
Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian whose work includes film history books, DVD and Blu-ray audio commentaries and special features. Visit Stuart's Cine Blogarama here.