When you think of pawn shops, you probably think of a seedy part of a town with prison bars on the windows. Maybe even prison bars surrounding a counter where deals take place. You really have to be desperate for cash to sell stuff at a pawn shop. It’s also pretty much the last place you go to sell stuff before just giving it away. But a little pawn shop in Las Vegas with the help of the History Channel hopes to change all of those preconceived ideas. Pawn Stars takes you behind the counter and gives you an inside look at the business that most don’t understand.
This first season is all about a pawn shop in downtown Las Vegas called Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. It is run by three generations of the Harrison family, including Rick Harrison, Rick’s father “The Old Man,” and Rick’s son “Big Hoss” Corey. Corey’s friend “Chumlee” also helps out, but he mainly causes trouble. In each episode, there three or four people who come into the pawn shop wanting to sell or loan something to this pawn shop for cash. They see everything from guns and military memorabilia to antique cars, planes, and even a hot-air balloon.
What makes this show so interesting is learning about all the items that come into the shop. Half of the time, the Harrisons know immediately what something is worth, because they have a vast knowledge of history. The other half of the time, they have to call in experts. Rick certainly knows a lot of unusual experts on random things. It’s also fun to listen to the bargaining tactics between the Harrisons and the person looking to sell them their stuff. The seller starts off extremely high and Rick usually laughs that offer off and gets the number somewhere in between with it being closer to his number, so that he can make a profit on the item later.
While it’s fun to learn more about the pawn shop business, the real reason why this pawn shop was picked for a reality series is because of the unique personalities running it. They are all interesting to say the least. The Old Man comes across most of the time as being cranky, Corey as sort-of a know-it-all, Chumlee as dumb, and Rick as a jerk, but they are all still likable people. The fighting can be a little too much, mainly because most of it is staged. This is where the show is at its worst. All of the standard “scripted reality antics” don’t really add much to the show. Sure, it can be funny to watch at times, but most of the time it’s just too over-the-top and cheesy.
There are lots of reality shows on TV today, and they include a bunch on cable channels. Some are good and some are bad. Pawn Stars is easily one of the better reality shows to premiere in 2009. It’s definitely the most entertaining show on The History Channel. The history behind some of these unusual items is fascinating to learn. The only thing holding back Pawn Stars is all of the reality show hijinks. If take out most of those segments, one could argue this is the best reality show on television today.
Episode 1 – Boom or Bust
Rick wants to get his hands on a cannon from the 18th-century that could be worth $40,000. Also, a man brings in a 1.5 ton table saw and another tries to sell a replica of Roman armor.
Episode 2 – Confederate Conundrum
Questions are raised regarding the authenticity of a Civil War saber, circa 1861. Also, a Fender guitar autographed by Chuck Berry and a cash register from 1916 is brought into the store to be sold.
Episode 3 – Sink or Sell
Corey goes over Rick’s head and buys a 1984 Chris-Craft boat, without test driving it first. Also, a loaded Colt revolver and a rare Gretsch guitar are brought into the shop.
Episode 4 – Knights in Fake Armor?
When a 1884 Trapdoor rifle is brought into the store it is us to Chum Lee to see if it will fire properly. Also, an old Pac-Man game and a knight’s medieval jousting helmet, worth $30,000 if it is real, is brought into the store to be sold.
Episode 5 – Gangsters & Guitars
Rick and the gang is excited to see a 1962 Lincoln Continental, with suicide doors, come through the store. Also, Rick examines a billfold from 1857 containing Confederate money and a Gibson L7 guitar from 1942 is examined for authenticity.
Episode 6 – Damn Yankees
The authenticity of a 1951 World Series baseball, signed by the New York Yankees, is verified. Also, a Knights of the Round Table 25-piece set and a West Point cadet jacket, worn by a famous general, are brought into the store to be sold.
Episode 7 – Brothels & Busses
A man wants to make a trade with a blunderbuss from 1750 for an engagement ring. Also, a fighter jet ejection seat and a original 1966 Schwinn Stingray bicycle are brought into the store.
Episode 8 – Time Machines
When a Coke machine from the 1950s gets brought into the store it is up to Rick to make the sell and turn it into a modernized collector’s item. Also, an 18th-century flintlock pistol and a 1941 Philco radio are brought into the store to be sold.
Episode 9 – Rope a Dope
A 1929 Ford Coupe and a calf-roping machine are brought into the store to be sold. Meanwhile, Rick punishes one of his employees for being late.
Episode 10 – Rick’s Big Bet
Rick refurbishes a gas pump that had a bird’s nest inside; after misidentifying a Faberge crystal glass, Corey takes a quiz with graveyard shift duty at stake; Rick buys bayonets. A rusted gas pump and war time bayonets make thier way into the store to be sold. Also, Corey misidentifies an item and must undergo a quiz or face the punishment of working the graveyard shift.
Episode 11 – John Hancock’s Hancock
Rick has a hard time figuring out if an antique document signed by John Hancock is authentic or not. Also, a bullwhip from the “Indiana Jones” movies is brought into the store and the guys have to prove if it was actually on the set, and in the hands of Harrison Ford, or just an ordinary whip.
Episode 12 – Plane Crazy
Rick and the gang check the authenticity of a map of Colonial Boston. Also, Rick gets upset at Chumlee for buying fake art and the store might have a chance to buy their first airplane.
Episode 13 – Peaches & Pinups
Rick and the gang have a chance to buy a wooden crossbow, an Ormolu clock, and an adult magazine collection.
Episode 14 – Old Man’s Gamble
The guys get a call about a KISS pinball machine from 1979. Also, a woman brings in a 1914 Star-note $20 bill and Chumlee must raise money to buy a classic 1982 Harley-Davidson shovelhead.
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is great with colors generally looking bright and vivid details everywhere. No major or minor problems at all here, and pretty much the same quality you saw on TV.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. There are no subtitles available, though. Beside that, there are no major problems, and the quality is about the same as you heard on television.
“Meet the Pawn Stars” Featurette –
This runs 8 minutes and it provides brief bios of Rick, “The Old Man”, Corey, and Chumlee.
“”Real or Fake” Featurette –
This runs 6 minutes and it teaches you how to tell the difference between real or fake Rolexes, real or fake silver, and real or fake gold. It’s short, but it’s actually pretty informative.
Additional Footage –
This is 12 minutes worth of scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the season. Some interesting stuff in here.
Pawn Stars is one new reality show that is worth checking out. It’s interesting to learn about all the unique and historic items that come through this pawn shop. So give it a rental or a watch on The History Channel at the very least.
A&E Home Entertainment presents Pawn Stars: Season 1. Created by Brent Montgomery, Colby Gaines, David McKillop,Mary Donahue, and Christopher Bray. Starring Rick Harrison, Richard “The Old Man” Harrison. Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, and Austin “Chumlee” Russell. Running time: 160 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: January 26, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
I'm not embarrassed to say that my favorite television show of all-time is The O.C. I live by the motto "you can't fight fate!" More importantly, I watch WAY too much television, but I do so for the benefit of everyone reading this now. So to my mom and my wife, I say thanks for reading! To everyone else that might stumble across this, remember TiVo should be your best friend!
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