American Pickers: The Complete Season One

American Pickers: The Complete Season One
Remember when the name of the television channel actually reflected the kind of programming it ran? Back when TLC showed something vaguely educational, instead of the current endless succession of freakishly large families and little people? In those days, the History Channel was all about Hitler ― Hitler almost 24 hours a day. But you knew what you were getting. These days, the History Channel is all reality shows about guys driving trucks on ice roads, working in pawn shops or, in the case of American Pickers, going around small town America buying up stuff to sell for profit. Mike and Fritz own Antique Archaeology, a company that specialises in items with historical, collectible and pop culture value. They find them by visiting the kind of people who will turn up on an episode of Hoarders sometime soon and, allegedly, driving around looking for houses they think might have cool stuff they can buy. Obviously it feels set up and forced, but it actually works as a low-key travelogue of the American Mid-West where everyday people tell their stories about the objects they have in their life. What doesn't work as well is that this is like Antiques Roadshow in reverse. Instead of seeing the delight of people when they find out how much their stuff is worth, we see Mike and Fritz making deals and then high-fiving in their van afterwards as they boast about how much profit they just made. While they are trying to run a business, it's unsettling to watch them befriend a pensioner just to make off with something worth a huge amount more than they paid. By the end of the 12 episodes, it's tough to know how to feel about the duo because they don't come across as particularly sympathetic. American Pickers is entertaining enough in small doses, but one episode begins to look like another after a while. It also doesn't help that this is a completely bare bones set with no extras, as getting a peek behind the curtain might have helped add a more human face to what the show depicts. (E1)