Yeah, I know. Spike TV is supposed to be the “all-guy”/”testosterone-only” television network with shows like Deadliest Warrior and 1000 Ways to Die. But, as I’ve fully admitted, I’m not a typical female. I’ve never been comfortable in frilly dresses or with lots of makeup (unless it’s special effects makeup for Halloween or the theatre). I can’t stand to walk past the annoying pink aisle in every toy store where every incantation of Barbie and her “friends” live. I like hunting, fishing, reenacting, shooting — typical “guys-only” activities. The only dresses I own are either for Halloween/theatre costumes and my wedding dress (which I certainly can’t fit into anymore).
So, anyone who personally knows me knows that watching Spike TV isn’t that unusual for me. Tonight, Husband said he wanted to be sure to catch the season premieres of Auction Hunters and American Diggers. Auction Hunters usually isn’t that bad. The personalities on the show — Ton Jones and Allen Haff — aren’t annoying and do admit that they don’t always strike it rich with what they buy. There’s not a lot of staged “drama” as shown on other storage-unit-purchasing-shows. The guys are funny, honest about what they don’t know, and occasionally find some really awesome items that make me wonder why I can’t find the neat stuff they find around where I live.
But tonight’s premiere of Auction Hunters was supposed to be a live show where the guys and other buyers would get to bid on four large vaults stuffed with a variety of items. Watching them were an invitation-only group of experts in militaria, precious metals, firearms, and other collectables; each of them were waiting for their chance to see what was pulled out of them and hoping to land a great bargain. Ton and Allen spent $5000 on one vault that they felt had the most items they could resell and make a big profit. Spike TV also agreed that whatever the profit they make, the network would match it dollar-for dollar to Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. They even kept a countdown clock running throughout the show and commercials because the guys were limited to one hour to bid, buy, dig, and resell the items in any vault they purchased.
They found a lot of collectible toys, but no really valuable items in the toy pile that would have made them worth a lot. They also found a 1920s-era electric guitar made of aluminum and an amplifier made by the same company that sold for a decent price. They sold a business safe as well which was probably from the 1930s and received a decent amount of money. But, throughout the show the host kept telling them how much time they had left and Allen kept complaining that it was rude and distracting for him to do that. The clock kept ticking and they sold a 1980s boombox and a reproduction Dr. J uniform (packaged with an authentic autographed photo), but they still weren’t out of the red. Finally, the last item they pulled out of a trunk — a wheel-lock pistol — sold for enough to give them a decent profit and the network said they’d boost the donation to $25,000. How scripted is that? It was painful to watch them sift through items and stack things in different areas instead of trying to sell something. I’d have pulled out a box, seen what was inside of it, and put it up for auction to the crowd. They were invited there to purchase items, so you know they had money to spend. But, Allen and Ton just kept digging and arguing until the last second (literally) when they sold the huge pile of “collectible” toys. And I say “collectible” in quotation marks because the types of toys they found were made for the collectors’ market, which means they’re not because no one would ever play with them.
After that was over, I figured I’d give American Diggers a chance since it’s only a 30-minute show. That was 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
The idea behind American Diggers is that Ric Savage, a former professional wrestler (of only 7 years) and his crew drive around America looking for places that might have a historical significance and ask the property owners if they can dig on their land. Tonight’s premiere episode was in Alaska as they were trying to find relics from the gold rush. I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically as the first houses they went to had owners that didn’t want them anywhere near their property. One guy finally agreed to let them dig and agreed to a 70-30 split of the profits. So, Ric and his crew went out and found a few cool items (a bear trap, pick axe head, two-man saw, panning tin) and brought them into town and sold them at a local antique mall. They then returned to the land-owner and divvied-up the profits.
They’re lucky they weren’t in our area or where I used to live. The people in these areas are well-known for greeting strangers at the door with a minimum of one firearm and perhaps a large growling animal. I’m also not sure about this show because in the description online it says they “target areas such as battlefields and historic sites.” If they attempt to do their digging on a national battlefield, they’ll have a nice surprise when the historic preservation organizations and the law enforcement authorities show up since unauthorized relic hunting is illegal. Even if they don’t find anything “of worth” in their digs, going onto national park lands and many historical sites with the intention of relic hunting is illegal.
And the Spike TV website says that they have found lots of Civil War bullets, Civil War artillery shell fragments, and Native American arrow and axe heads. By the way, “arrow heads” are called “projectile points” in the archeology/anthropology/historic preservation communities. Obviously, these guys aren’t really interested in preservation of any sort, except for their bank accounts.
I don’t think the show will last past the episodes already taped, but I could be wrong. I doubt it, but I could be wrong. There are already lots of preservation/collection publications that also educate their readers on what they’ve found and how to avoid being scammed. This guy’s show (and magazine by the same name) is just wading into the deep end of a genre that doesn’t really need another player and more than likely will sink instead of swim.