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JUNE 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 6



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Antiques Roadshow

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  Hit the Roadshow

 
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW
PBS
Monday, 8:00 pm


TIM WALSH

Okay, it's summer. Time to turn off the TV and go outside. It's re-run season anyway. Plus, now that "Cops" is no longer allowed to shoot that wonderfully exploitative arrest footage and "The Jerry Springer Show" has allegedly decided to give peace a chance, what's the point in turning on the ol' tube anyway? Seinfeld re-runs? Come on... Seinfeld is so five minutes ago.

Well, friends, you may not believe me, but there's this great show you should start watching on PBS. Yes, that's right, I said PBS! The Public Broadcasting System. That stodgy channel your dad used to always watch when you were a kid (and probably still watches). You know, the one with all those ultra-annoying pledge drives. (Show us a commercial... please!) The one that shows Yanni and John Tesh concerts during said pledge drives, and then offers viewers videotapes of said concerts as a premium for donating, like, 500 bucks to the cause. (No problem, you'll fork over $500 for that Yanni tape. Sure, you could be taping it on your VCR for free, but hey, at least this way, you can get it without all the pledge breaks.)

But, I digress. The show I'm talking about is "Antiques Roadshow", which according to the PBS web site (www.pbs.org), is "part adventure, part history lesson and part treasure hunt." Well, it's all of that, and more. There's plenty of drama, and even a few laughs to boot.

If you haven't seen it, here's how the show works: A group of antiques experts from the country's leading auction houses travel throughout the United States offering free public appraisals of antiques and collectibles. This is all real; no actors, no re-enactments or dramatizations. Just real folks bringing stuff they've dug out of their attic or stumbled upon at a yard sale in to be appraised.

Watching the "Roadshow" gives you the feel of what it must be like to be at a giant auction or flea market. People are milling around looking at antiques and collectibles. But those people are all in the background. Every show spotlights several people who have brought their stuff in to be appraised. They each get a private audience with an expert who proceeds to talk about their piece, asks questions about its history and eventually delivers the appraisal.

Sound like boring old PBS stuff? Okay, maybe on paper it does. But, I'm telling you, watch one show and I bet you'll be hooked.

The real fun comes in seeing people's reactions when they find out that that vase they "stole" at auction for $800 is actually worth a cool seventy-five bucks. Okay, there's a certain amount sadism involved here, but it sure is fun to watch a smug grin turn into a deflated frown when the guy from Sotheby's rains on Aunt Matilda's parade.

In reality, it usually works the other way around. For example: Mother and daughter picked up a painting at the town dump, now come to find out it's worth nearly a grand. Watch one show and you'll be drooling at the thought of rummaging through your attic or cellar, in search of that lamp you're certain your grandma bought at that yard sale when you were seven. Damn, that thing's got to be worth something!

As "Antiques Roadshow's" executive producer, Aida Moreno says, "The look of surprise when someone finds out an old painting is worth a quarter of a million dollars; the disappointed, but brave face when a 'priceless' vase is revealed to be a fake, and the stories that accompany each item brought in for appraisal... It's all great television."

Indeed, it is great television. Check out "Antiques Roadshow" this summer. You'll find out it's not your father's PBS.




TIM WALSH, a native of Berlin, Massachusetts, graduated in 1994 from Assumption College with a degree in English and Communications. His work for Renaissance Online marks his return to the literary world, as his last published work appeared in his school's student newspaper.



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