Reality shows are all the rage right now. It seems that nearly every network is dominated by reality shows. From the Big Four (CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX) to the major cable networks, viewers are bombarded by reality shows every day. There is such a glut of reality shows that one can’t help but wonder which shows will still be standing when and if the reality show industry finally implodes on itself. When and if that day comes, suffice to say that one of the few shows that will still be standing is History Channel’s hit show, American Pickers. The show’s newest collection, “American Pickers: Volume Three” is proof of that.
“American Pickers: Volume Three” was released Tuesday. And the episodes contained on this new collection are some of the best proof of what makes this show stand out in an ocean of reality shows. What makes American Pickers such a great program is that unlike so many of the other shows of its ilk, it takes viewers across the backroads of America. It’s not so much about the value of the stuff that Mike and Frank pick. It’s about learning about America’s history through the nation’s people. The people that Mike and Frank meet come from every walk of life. Their stories are the “people’s stories.” One could almost argue that what American Pickers does is it combines the best elements of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow with legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite’s travels across America. Now, with the third volume of episodes, fans get another chance to see just what makes American Pickers such a great show. In Volume Three, Mike and Frank meet a man named Larry. Larry’s “home made town” epitomizes what American Pickers is all about. They also meet Hobo Jack, who is literally a hobo. But his stories and his stuff are worth their weight in rusty gold. And in what is one of the show’s best episodes yet, Mike and Frank finally let Danielle go picking. She proves that she’s got what it takes, while Frank learns a hard lesson about doing Danielle’s job.
Volume Three is loaded with great episodes on its two discs. Among all the great episodes, one of the best is “Mike’s Breakdown.” This episode opens with the guys meeting Jan Burton. Danielle had told them that Jan had a 1965 Honda motorcycle. But she didn’t tell them what line the bike was. Frank, hoping it was a Scrambler, is excited. But then when Jan tells Frank that the bike was indeed a Scrambler but had already been sold, it hits him pretty hard. They do find an old printing press, though. At the end of the episode, they get their friend, “Mushroom” to appraise it for them. After looking it over and talking to them about it, he gives it a pretty hefty price tag, at which they’re obviously very happy.
Next up, they meet a gentleman named Larry in Wisconsin. Larry had saved loads of old buildings that were going to be torn down, and actually made his own “home made town” called Unionville with them. As Mike notes, Larry is one of the reasons that he loves doing what he does. Larry shows that he has respect for America’s history and is trying to preserve it for future generations so they’ll remember America’s past. The town looks like a life size model town right out of a train set. Its condition is stunningly impressive. While they’re touring the “town”, Frank finds a beautiful old “leadlight.” The guys also find a DX oil sign and an old liquor store sign. While those were the only real picks they found, Larry’s “town” and his stories about how he brought it together were the real find. Again, it is a perfect example of what makes American Pickers so great. It’s not always about the picks. It’s also about discovering pieces of America’s history. The stories are just as valuable as the finds.
The final segment of this episode finds Mike and Frank meeting a guy named Ted. Ted’s house is absolutely amazing. It’s beyond description. It really is one of those things that has to be seen to be believed *hint hint*. Among all the stuff that Ted has, he has fake aliens that were used as props in a little show by the name of Roswell. He also has a perfect condition porcelain Goodyear tires sign and loads more. After getting the picks that they wanted, the guys head back to Iowa. But on the way, they have to call Mike’s brother after the van breaks down. Frank had been complaining about feeling something weird. But Mike didn’t believe him until it finally happened. They do get back to the shop in the end, which is when the printing press is appraised. And as “punishment” for not listening to Frank, Mike has to pull weeds outside the store while he [Frank] and Danielle kick back and enjoy a cold drink.
In another example of what makes AP such a great show, Mike and Frank meet a Vietnam Veteran named Tony. Mike and Frank don’t even discover this until later in the first segment of the episode, “Hobo Jack.” Tony’s got loads of classic stuff, including a korean helmet and grenades. He also has a classic toy Dick Tracy car that Frank falls for. Frank also manages to get Tony to sell him a classic movie projector and giant pair of antlers in a bundle.
Next up Mike and Frank meet Ken in their cross country touring. Ken has some stuff that the guys get. They pick out an urn, some chairs, and a bicycle that he was keeping for a friend.
After meeting Tony and Ken, Mike and Frank are still looking for the “golden pick” that could help the shop bring in some real money. That’s when they come upon real life hobo named Hobo Jack. Jack doesn’t have a house. He lives way out in the forest. And while he and his surroundings look every part the hobo lifestyle, his stuff is just as great a find. While going through Jack’s buildings, Frank finds a 1921 V-Twin engine for an Indian motorcycle. It takes over an hour, but Mike finds the transmission that goes with the engine. The guys also find an old Excelsior bicycle and a 2-cycle engine that turns out to be one heck of a find after having it appraised. The engine turns out to be a Curtiss motor. It’s appraised at $7,000. That’s a good thing for Mike since he had bought it for $3,000. The bike itself was appraised at $8,000. He had bought the bike for $6,000. So in total, Mike spent $9,000. But the total appraisal for the two would bring in upwards of $15,000.
In another of the collection’s best episodes, Danielle finally gets to go picking. After having a bit of a blowup with Frank, she and Frank agree that Frank would give her job a try, while she goes out picking with Mike. Danielle starts out slow. But it doesn’t take her long to catch on and take off. The real fun starts for Danielle when she and Mike meet Jesse and Ricardo in Pennsylvania. These two guys are eccentric to say the least. But when she discovers a bunch of vintage clothes in their equally eccentric home, she takes off. Frank, on the other hand, isn’t doing so well trying to do Danielle’s job. After meeting Jesse and Ricardo, Mike and Danielle meet Steve and Bill, who work at the Hotel Tidioute in PA. Danielle finds a portrait of a woman in what looks like Victorian dress. She falls in love with it. She decides to start flirting with Steve and Bill in order to get a deal. And it works. All four later go to the hotel’s basement, where Mike finds a really old pinball game. He gets Danielle to use her “womanly ways” to get Steve and Bill to come down on their price. And do they ever. They go from wanting a price in the triple digits all the way down to $90. Mike and Danielle take the pinball machine to have it appraised. They’re pleasantly surprised when it’s given a number in the range of $800. To make things better, the machine works, too.When they finally get back to the shop, Danielle tells Frank about the pick, to which he’s very impressed. Danielle does admit that she’s ready to get back to her job, though. So everyone did learn a lesson in the end.
American Pickers is one the best shows in the mass of reality tv today. It’s such a simple show. But its general construction is what makes it so great. And this newest volume from the show proves why it is a leader among the pack. Whether for the episodes listed here or the others included in the set, “American Pickers Volume Three” is one of the few reality tv shows on dvd worth picking up this year. Anyone that wants to check out this brand new double disc set can get it through History Channel’s shop site, http//shop.history.com.
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