'Pawn Stars' an unusual find

, Last Updated: 3:24 PM ET

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. The TV, however, is junk.

As we lazily roll into the long, hot summer months, finding something worth watching on the ol’ tube is akin to picking through piles of garbage in the hopes of stumbling across a valuable treasure. Wait a second, that sounds like a strangely familiar premise...

There’s something oddly thrilling about the idea of discovering a hidden gem in piles of trash, which could account for the fact there have been no fewer than two dozen series based on people who buy and sell junk for big bucks. This week we’re taking a look at five of these shows, because, let’s face it, there are a lot worse things on TV right now.

Pawn Stars

When: Tuesdays (and most other days) on History.

Premise:

The staff at a family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas sees all manner of curious items cross their counter as they haggle with sellers, puzzle over valuable oddities and good-naturedly give each other the gears.

Personalities:

Rick Harrison, his dad “Old Man” and son “Big Hoss” (all three men are named Richard Harrison), along with Austin “Chumlee” Russell, who works the counter and is often the butt of jokes for not being the brightest bulb in the marquee. Old Man’s expression frequently makes it look like he’s in the process of pooping a brick.

Is it legit?

Sort of. The Harrisons have been in the pawn shop business for many years, and their store, World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, is genuine, albeit now also something of a tourist attraction.

But the owners and staff of real-world pawn shops point out that most of their trade is with people who are looking for short-term cash in exchange for decidedly non-exotic items, usually to pay bills and such. You know, what pawn shops have been doing for many decades.

Since some dude pawning his mom’s TV for $100 to make his rent is both depressing and mundane, Pawn Stars focuses on unusual and vintage items, for which they often call in outside experts to lend a hand in appraising. That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen often – if ever – at most real-world pawn shops. As with the vast majority of so-called reality TV, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes here to make the stories more interesting.

Spinoffs:

Cajun Pawn Stars, by the same production company, is a southern-flavoured spin-off of Pawn Stars. American Restoration centres around restoration expert Rick Dale, who has appeared on Pawn Stars, and Counting Cars stars Danny “The Count” Koker, also a recurring expert on Pawn Stars.

Memorable item:

A seller brought in a clump of rupee coins recovered from the legendary Great Basses shipwreck off the south coast of Sri Lanka. The seller of the 300-year-old coins asked $700,000, but Rick wouldn’t offer more than $200,000 and the seller said no deal.

 

steve.tilley@sunmedia.ca

 


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