How's about over 2 and ½ hours of the venerable PBS rags-to-riches fantasy Antiques Roadshow? If you haven't yet seen this American version of the original British series, or one of its copycat cousins, the deal is this: Collectors, kooks and everyday folks line up to show their hidden treasures, forgotten heirlooms or garage sale finds to real experts, in hopes of discovering that the hideous vase that Aunt Edna bequeathed is actually worth $75,000. For the curious and other stripes of lookie-loo, it's a can't-miss formula.
It seems like the show has been on public television forever; in our house it was a Sunday night tradition, for quite a while. We certainly got used to the routine. A small cast of hosts eventually settled with Mark Wahlberg, who announces each location as the show travels from city to city for (usually) a pair of hour-long shows. Regional residents descend on an exposition hall or convention center, where the likes of the Keno Brothers examine furniture, (or what have you) explain about it to the owners, and reveal its value. Generally the appraiser asks the guest if they have 'any idea' about the object's worth. Of course not, guys! That's why the people come on the show! Often a staggering price is quoted, much of the time, at least a few hundred dollars of value is assigned to some tchotchke, every now and then a fake is exposed.
Three hour-long episodes are presented on this single disk, all of which originally aired on Public Broadcasting. Included are: Simply the Best, Trash to Treasure, and Politically Collect. The titles are self-explanatory. Simply the Best contains only segments highlighting superlative examples of antiques, those which are described by appraisers as "the finest examples" of their kind. Either super rare or in exceptional condition, such examples consist of Federal side chairs, a banjo, a Stickley table and more. Trash to Treasure reveals how those with a sharp eye can turn discarded items into real gold. From dumpster cast-offs to stuff left by the roadside, you never know when you might be looking at a $20,000 Zuni pot, or relics from the Tiffany estate. Lastly, Politically Collect looks at all those things campaign junkies and those with Presidential proclivities might covet, such as campaign button collections and letters or autographed photos rising to $75,000 in value, or more.
The show packs a lot of personal charm into each episode, and the three included here are no exception. From the gleeful Rastafarian who found $30,000 worth of documents in a dumpster to the little old lady who virtually halts the progress of the show to call her friends over in a amazement, there's no telling how people will react. Even our charismatic cadre of experts can let things go to their heads, as when they become tongue-tied in awe of the finest treasures they've seen. Meanwhile, the background babble of people in line or talking with other appraisers provides a comforting air of the real and ordinary to balance out the various fantasies coming true before your eyes.
Yes, Antiques Roadshow is a fantastic, venerable entertainment, and as such, fans have probably seen these episodes before, and can likely catch them every week on PBS, raising the question; for whom is this disc intended? My wife, who, as mentioned, is a longtime fan of the show, couldn't muster the desire to watch this DVD. She's my litmus test for most practical matters, so I must conclude this DVD belongs in the 'gift given with good intentions' category. If you've mentioned to an Aunt or Grandparent that you enjoy the Roadshow you might expect to find this gift-wrapped just for you on some special occasion. For the purposes of our rating system, I'll say Rent It.