If you love collecting stuff, then you should be on American Pickers like a like a duck on a June bug. This History Channel series is the folksy cousin of Antiques Roadshow but with a lot more personality.
Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz run Antique Archaeology and their shop couldn’t be more aptly named. By “picking” small towns all over the US, they’ve managed to uncover some amazing treasures and every week they take you along for the ride. In the vernacular of the show, “rusty gold” is a thing of beauty. Old gas station signs that are pitted and warped, bicycles from the turn of the century, oil cans and motorcycle emblems – condition isn’t always a prime concern when you’re looking at a piece of Americana. And Americana is what American Pickers is all about.
Each episode is a mini-history lesson with trivia pop-ups that tell you the story behind a brand or an object. But more importantly, the show gives you a look into the history of ordinary people and it turns out, they’re not so ordinary after all. The finds are fun, but the folks are fabulous. Some of them live on dozens of acres, every inch of it filled with stuff. Others have turned their passion for collecting into a museum that will never be seen by more than a hundred people. And then there are the eccentrics, like the guy who dug an underground tunnel in order to have more room for his stuff.
Mike and Frank have no qualms about getting their hands dirty. They’ll climb to the top of any pile if it means finding that one amazing item they’ve never seen before. Sometimes it’s huge and heavy, like the old film projector they bought from a woman who’s dad was a pioneer in the industry. Sometimes it’s small, like the A.C. Gilbert James Bond Aston Martin tin toy car they find in “Gordon’s Gold Mine.” And just when you think you’ve seen it all, they find something completely wacky like a folding bathtub.
If you are a collector, you may be put off by the price haggling that is a huge part of the show but remember, these guys are running a business so they’ve got to make a profit. And considering that most of what they buy is rotting away in a shed somewhere, any price is a good price. But you can’t tell that to folks like Robin. He wants to liquidate the inventory from his antique store that went belly up, but when the guys try to buy the good stuff, he tells them it’s not for sale. It’s amazing to see how emotionally attached people (myself included) are about stuff that other see as junk. At least with Mike and Frank on the job, these objects will find their way out of storage and into the hands of a collector where they’ll be protected and enjoyed.
American Pickers: Volume Two includes the first eight episodes of the second season. There are no extras on the DVD and that’s a shame, because it would be nice to get a look at objects that didn’t make the TV edit, learn more about the history of some items, or even spend more time in the van with the boys. Their nonsensical banter is always amusing from Frank’s practical jokes to Mike’s conversations starters (Who is hotter? Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga?).
On the upside, the DVD is currently under $10.00 on Amazon and it would make a great gift for anyone who collects anything.