Antiques Roadshow is the worst premise for a television show. Ever.I can only imagine what it was like in the room when the creator made their pitch:
"Okay, there'll be a group of people, mostly retirees, and they'll all bring their antiques to a big room and talk about them. The set will be bland, no fancy edits or camera work, and their won't be an ounce of plot to draw viewers into the show."
The executive producer grabbed the person by their collar and hauled them to the street, without validating their parking. When he returned to his office, he brushed off his hands and said to his assistant, "Without a doubt, it's the worst idea for a television show I've ever heard."
But then the assistant said, "Why don't we add an expert evaluator to the mix to tell people what their antiques are worth."
The executive producer turned to his assistant and said, "You know what, I think we might have just created lightning in a bottle."
And that's why Antiques Roadshow is the best premise for a television show. Ever.
I don't think it's possible to watch Antiques Roadshow without being drawn into the suspense of the dollar figure at the end of each on-screen appraisal. It's as if Bob Barker is standing next to the contestant after they release their hands from the big, multi-colored wheel. It's impossible to take your eyes off the wheel. You want to see where it stops. You need to see where it stops. Despite not having a single lesbian kiss or cleavage shot, Antiques Roadshow is the kind of show that stops people in their tracks. You might have just stepped into the electronics store to buy a pair of AA batteries for you remote control, but an hour later you'll stumble out into the parking lot with a foggy head full of dreams with the potential riches, just hiding in your house. You might even be a millionaire!
Beyond the dollar figures, I am absolutely fascinated by the extent of knowledge and interest the appraisers and experts have for their specialized field of antiques. It's always intriguing to hear a historical recount of something you have absolutely no idea about, like the decorative aspects of 17th century contemporary American silverware, for instance. It's somewhat scary to realize how someone can have that much knowledge about something you've never even heard about, but it also gives us reassurance that our world is infinitely more interesting than what goes on in our daily lives.
As a viewer, I'd love to find out how people's daily lives change after they discover their potential windfall. Do they cash in immediately and go to the greyhound track to celebrate? Do they stop buying lottery tickets? do they start buying lottery tickets? I think the producers of Antiques Roadshow are sitting on absolute goldmine of real-life follow up stories. What did the guy whose watch was evaluated at a quarter of a million dollars do? Did he go to Vegas and put it all on red? Did he save hundreds of acres of rainforest? Did he buy a bigger TV? Or did he just get better insurance on his safety deposit box and go back to his normal routine? I am extremely curious.
The idea that a small object could change our life is an attractive notion. To think that it could all change, so quickly. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I'd love to travel, but with my car payments and the credit card payments from the new stereo I just bought, I just can't afford it." Right. Our financial situation often rules the way we approach the world, whether it's a valid assessment or not. To think grandma's old lamp might be able to solve our financial problems and make our dreams come true is much more desirable than to actually confront our real situation. And Antiques roadshow reinforces that idea, in an unbelievably interesting, and well-thought out format.
But deep down, beyond the television program, is that what we really want?
I'll admit, I watched this episode of Antiques Roadshow from a unique situation. I recently completed a project where I started with one red paperclip, and after a year of obsessively working around the clock to make fourteen trades for bigger and better things, I eventually made a trade for a house in the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan Canada. (The story made headlines around the world. If you go to Google, enter "paperclip", and press "I'm feeling lucky", you'll go to my website. I guess it was kind of a big deal. I'm well aware of the fact that my story is why PBS invited me to write in this blog, and I thank them for the opportunity.) Some people are certain that the original red paperclip is now worth more than the house, because of the story attached to it. The orginal red paperclip is currently in the hands of Corinna, the same woman I made the trade with over a year ago. The paperclip currently rests on her shelf in a picture frame, exactly the same spot she placed it the day we traded. I guess if people think that paperclip is worth more than the house, then it's probably true. Nearly every single day, somebody asks me how much I think the original red paperclip is worth, and if I'd like to get it back. I always answer, "No, I'm glad I traded away my red paperclip. If I hadn't, nothing would've ever happened."
And whether that red paperclip is worth a penny or a million pennies, my opinion will stay the same. Maybe it is the red paperclip, but after all, it's still just a paperclip.
But if Corinna ever appears on Antiques Roadshow, you better believe I'll watch to see where the big multi-colored wheel comes to rest.