Start free trial

Home > News, Articles & Multimedia > Worth Points > Antiques on TV: PBS Ups the Antiques Television Ante with ‘Market Wars’

Antiques on TV: PBS Ups the Antiques Television Ante with ‘Market Wars’

by Gregory Watkins (01/06/12).

Cue the classical music. Here is a question for you, gentle Public Broadcasting Service viewer: Do you find that the “Antiques Roadshow”—the original television program about antiques and collectibles—is just a little too proper and refined for you?

Cue the heavy metal; switch to monster truck announcer voice. Well, get ready for the 2012 version of grandma’s Antiques Roadshow: “Market Wars!” A new competition series from the producers of Antiques Roadshow, Market Wars will give you a bare-knuckles business of scoring a bargain. In each one-hour episode, professional antiques dealers put their reputations on the line—as they’re pitted against the clock, a budget and each other—and embark on nationwide treasure hunts, scouring flea markets and antiques shops for vintage valuables. The goal: to score the biggest profit in each show’s final auction segment.

This new 20-episode series, to air on PBS this summer and fall, will pit four antiques professionals in a head-to-head competition, foraging for items and taking them to auction. Each episode will follow the experts on their pursuits, highlighting the marvels that different areas of the country can offer the intrepid antiques hunter. The expert who makes the highest total profit at auction in each episode is named the winner, earning bragging rights for toppling his peers.

According to the press release, we will be able to watch as the pros pull out their best tactics from their bags of tricks and try to knock out their opposition. “With affectionate humor, ‘Market Wars’ follows the combatants, gleaning the best tactics from the battlefield and arming viewers to pursue their own successful treasure hunts.”

“ ‘Antiques Roadshow’ has been the leader in the popular antiques and collectibles genre for a long time,” said Marsha Bemko, the show’s executive producer. “ ‘Market Wars’ turns its lens on the antiques experts themselves and the real, rough-and-tumble competition they face in the marketplace.”

Hoping to use AR as a lead-in, “Market Wars” will follow the old antiques show warhorse on Monday nights.

“PBS continues to implement our primetime strategy to combine new shows with popular, like-minded content,” said John F. Wilson, senior vice president & chief TV programming executive. “We’ve had great success pairing natural history and science programming on Wednesday nights. We’re confident that teaming ‘Market Wars’ with ‘Antiques Roadshow’ will even more firmly anchor Monday nights as a popular viewing destination for exploration and history.”

With a pedigree that features the “Antiques Roadshow,” this production company may be able to combine the fascination of the history of the piece with the amazement of value and the wheeler-dealer abilities of the contestants to get these items on the cheap. Those are the necessary elements in a winning antique television show model.

Many of the spin-offs and clones that have come out this year that have failed—most noticeably (and deservedly)—being NBC’s “It’s WorthWhat?” Shows that tease at being about the antiques themselves, only to pander to the exorbitant prices and showbiz glitz fail (and they are often made exactly this way because they are nothing more than summer schedule filler and end up just more crappy flotsam in the sea of canceled TV. Those programs that honor the pieces themselves, on the other hand, and explain why they are rare or fascinating or historically relevant, are the ones that antique buffs want to watch, and thereby, succeed.

Gregory Watkins is the editor of WorthPoint.


WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth


5 Responses to “Antiques on TV: PBS Ups the Antiques Television Ante with ‘Market Wars’”

  1. Gary Sohmers says:

    Interesting, since the Executive Producer of Antiques Roadshow is under investigation for Abuses against the Appraisers …

    I filed a whistleblower complaint in August 2011 if anyone wants to read it … it is amazing the unprofessional disregard of PBS, WGBH and Antiques Roadshow for the Appraisers.

  2. Ruth Weston says:

    I for one, would prefer the original British Antiques Roadshow which I think has more meat and class than the USA Antiques Roadshow and am bored by the dumbing down of the current collecting shows and sacrificing antique/collectible content for egotism, temper tantrums, profanity and personality cultism and drama. So…I sigh and take a wait and see attitude. But…I’ve been in the business for 30 years and have a British background so maybe that’s why!

    • Gregory Watkins Gregory Watkins says:

      Hi Ruth,

      I agree with your about the egotism, temper tantrums, profanity and personality cultism and drama that shows up in many of these shows… and I have to believe it is all contrived by the producers.

      Fortunately, at least here in the Atlanta area, the original English episodes are also broadcast, so it’s not all egotism, temper tantrums, profanity and personality cultism and drama.

      As for this news show, we’ll just have to wait and see.

  3. FYI– I went on the set of Antiques Roadshow for a chapter of my book on antiques, collecting, and flea markets– Killer Stuff and Tons of Money– to give a behind-the-scenes look at the show, and I interviewed Bemko and Matthews. I tried to give an honest assessment of the pros and cons of the show and its effects on the antiques trade. Sent a copy to Bemko and Matthews, but never heard back.

  4. tinfoilhat says:

    This sounds very much like the BBC show “Bargain Hunt” except in that show, they have pairs of amateurs who work with a professional, and the amateurs get to keep whatever profit is made. The only problem is, because they’re going about it backwards (buying at shows and selling at auctions instead of vice versa), they rarely make any money. But it’s a fun show anyway.

Want a picture icon with your comment? Sign up with Gravatar to get one.

Leave a Reply