Wednesday Oct 25
On the History Channel Written by Frank Ranu of Ranu’s Reviews
Last Updated on Monday, 16 November 2009 10:17
Written by Jeff from
Monday, 16 November 2009 10:16

Pawn Stars
The History Channel is one of those channels that used to get in the way of me finding a network with television shows that weren’t in black and white. Let’s face it–the History Channel does not have mass appeal–unless you were actually in a war or old enough to be part of history–I don’t think many people are saving a spot on their favorite channel list for the History Channel.

Then something strange happened. The History Channel started rolling out unique shows that were in color and oddly have nothing to do with history. It’s like the programming went from Metamucil to Red Bull.

The 411

Pawn Stars is about the only family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas. It is run by three generations of the Harrison family–grandfather (“The Old Man”), son (Rick) and grandson Corey (“Big Hoss”).

The show focuses half the attention on the customers that bring in anything and everything–and the other half on the family running the business. I have to admit that I did learn some things about the pawn business that I wasn’t aware of before watching the show.

For example, I always thought that a pawn shop just bought and sold stuff. Pawning, by definition, is actually a form of credit. If you pawn something, the pawn shop loans you money and you leave the item you’re pawning at the pawn shop. They specify an amount of time in which you have to pay that loan back (plus interest). If you don’t pay them the money after the specified time–they keep the item you pawned

The Good

The interaction between the customers and the Harrisons are great–even when they have the potential to be boring. I think interviewing the customers before they go in the pawn shop and after they leave is pure genius. It is hysterical to see how much these people think their junk is worth. Don’t get me wrong, some people have some valuable stuff, but watching the Harrisons negotiate a deal makes me wish that they could come with me every time the lease on my car is up.

The other great thing about the show is that you have to be careful because you are going to learn something. It is absolutely amazing to see how much this family knows about the history of an item and how much it is worth–and when they don’t know, they call in an expert for advice.

Also, the Harrisons are likable people that appear genuine. I’m sure the work relationship between all three is played up for television, but it does not go overboard. Rick is very upfront and honest. He will tell the customers right to their face that a product might be worth $1000, but he has to be able to sell it at a profit, so you aren’t getting a $1000 from him. The fact that the Harrisons are not arrogant or boasting about how little they paid for something really helps you like them even more.

Now my favorite person on the show is not a Harrison–he’s a co-worker called Chumlee. Obviously his nickname is a reference to Tennessee Tuxedo’s best friend, Chumley the Walrus, but just hearing his name makes me laugh. Chumlee is the guy that does everything the Harrisons don’t want to do. For example, if someone brings in a gun from the 1800s, they get Chumlee to test-fire it, since there is the real possibility that the gun will explode. He is just a happy-go-lucky guy that doesn’t appear to be the brightest crayon in the box.

The Not So Good

The one problem I have with the show is when the Harrisons have to call in an expert to gauge an item’s authenticity and value. They make it look like every expert is a friend of Rick’s and they come in to the shop free of charge. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but I just find it hard to believe that an expert on WWII or the Civil War is just going to come in for a free assessment. I could almost believe it if the expert was getting a free mention of his business on the show, but Rick appears to be on a first-name basis with every expert in the Las Vegas area. Not to mention that Las Vegas must be the mecca for experts in the obscurity.

Now the other problem I have is with my beloved Chumlee. After watching some videos on the History Channel’s web site for the show–I get the impression that Chumlee is not the “dumblee” he plays on TV. On the videos, he is well spoken and knowledgeable–on the show he seems like he is one level above plankton.

To DVR or Not To DVR?

My only suggestion would be to see the Harrisons in their home environment. For me, it would complete their authenticity if I could just get a glimpse of their personal lives. I know the show is about the pawn shop and that is where 95% of the show should take place, but just give me 5% of what happens when they are not at work and I’d be happy.

The show is very interesting and entertaining. I would (and do) watch this show on a regular basis and would highly recommend it to my fellow males. Not really sure if this show would be a hit with the women even though it is quite the fiesta de la salchicha.

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