One of the reasons why celebrities are never good panelists on game shows — except when helping civilian contestants — is that they have no personal incentive to risk their winnings or take a guess on a question. Sure, their winnings go to charity, but that pressure isn’t the same as the pressure to win money that will change the contestants’ lives. Antiques Roadshow is at its heart a game show, and they decided to make some pandemic-related modifications and go to celebrities’ homes to evaluate how much their stuff is worth. Read on for more.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW: CELEBRITY EDITION: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Over scenes of previous seasons, narrator Coral Pena talks about how Antiques Roadshow had to adjust after 25 years of having people come to appraisal shoots and find out what their stuff is worth. For the next four episodes, the show is going to celebrities’ homes, where they’ve agreed to get some of their stuff evaluated.
The Gist: In the first hour of the new “Celebrity Edition” of Antiques Roadshow, the show travels to Massachusetts to the home of Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, Newport, RI to a newish oceanfront mansion owned by Jay Leno, to the Harlem apartment of Law & Order vet S. Epatha Merkerson, to the Washington, DC home of author Jason Reynolds (who considers himself a “maximalist”) and the Saratoga, NY home of professional golfer Dottie Pepper.
Kerrigan puts up an Olympic torch she ran with on the 1996 Atlanta Games torch run, and is surprised at what it’s worth. Then, later on, she displays both her medals (bronze in 1992 Albertville and the infamous, Tonya-influenced Silber she got in 1994 Lillehammer). She also displays the Vera Wang-designed outfit she wore during her 1992 long program.
Reynolds displays a letter from Langston Hughes a pre-publishing reader of Manchild In The Promised Land, and a signed first-edition of Beloved. In the case of the latter two, he basically paid what they’re worth. He then gets some Rolexes evaluated. In Merkerson’s apartment, items from her collection of Black artifacts — which she buys in order to know that aspect of Black history and to take the power out of their imagery — as well as a poster for a Georgia Smart Set Revue from the 1930s.
Dottie Pepper has a price put on a crystal chalice she won in the first Solheim Cup (the women’s equivalent to the Ryder Cup) tournament, as well as a 19th century table that’s in her hallway. The ultimate evaluation, though, comes at Leno’s new beach mansion in Newport, which he bought lock, stock and barrel in 2017. He has no idea what the paintings and artifacts inside and outside are worth, so two appraisers look at his art, the weather vane on top of the house, and a peacock statue that got washed out to sea decades prior to returning after a storm in the ’90s.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Mix Antiques Roadshow with a celebrity game show where the celebs play for charity (like Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), and you have the “Celebrity Edition”… Except the celebs aren’t playing for charity.
Our Take: It may be quaint and stodgy, but at its heart Antiques Roadshow is a game show, and seeing celebrities find out what their stuff is worth isn’t nearly as compelling as seeing regular folks get shocked or disappointed by the appraisals.
Take Leno for example. He bought the Newport mansion for $13.5 million. The way he talks about all of the art inside, it sounds like he’s been in the house a handful of times and has no idea what he actually has. But even when the appraiser tells him that the massive painting in his entryway might be worth six figures, Leno doesn’t bat an eye. Why would he, when he laid out $13.5 mil for this place? If we had a painting that was worth six figures, we’d faint like the dude who brought in his 50-year-old Rolex did last season.
Nancy Kerrigan is unlikely to sell her memorabilia, no matter how much it’s worth. Matherson’s stuff is worth in the 3-4 figures, and has much more personal value to her then monetary. Pepper isn’t going to let go of her Solheim Cup, and Reynolds bought most of his items so recently that he likely knows the value of all of it; either way, like he tells the interviewer, he’ll just be putting it back where it is.
While it’s interesting to see the possessions of some of these celebrities — the collections of Matherson and Reynolds seemed to have especially personal value to them — and hear some of their backstories, we don’t get that extra factor of someone hoping to hear that the junk they found in their attic is worth a ton of money, the kind of money that can change their lives. That doesn’t exactly make Antiques Roadshow: Celebrity Edition a completely boring watch, but it’s not as compelling as the civillian version.
Parting Shot: Jay Leno is asked to make a pirate joke. “What do pirate earrings cost?” “A buccaneer.”
Sleeper Star: The appraisers do the yeoman’s work of course, due to all the research they have to do in preparation for their visits.
Most Pilot-y Line: Leno tries to be funny and the producers try to follow his funny with “bits” like him saying things about the appraisers, but it’s very much “PBS funny.”
Our Call: STREAM IT. Antiques Roadshow: Celebrity Edition gives some good looks at the stuff celebrities own, but it just makes us want to see the regular show — and its regular participants — even more.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.
Original posted at decider.com