History Channel // 2012 // 352 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 24th, 2012
The top rated series from History returns to DVD!
In a perfect world, a pawnshop would be a non-descript warehouse where people who need money go and temporarily exchange their goods for cash. When they made more money, they'd get their goods back. Of course that doesn't happen every time, so pawn shops have to be places where goods which are never reclaimed can be sold by the pawnbroker. Since they're selling goods it makes sense to cut out the middleman and become outright buyers. Thus we get a show like Pawn Stars which takes place in a pawnshop but might as well take place in an antique store for all the actual pawning going on. Whether they're buying, selling, or pawning, these pawn stars offer an effective mix of information and entertainment.
The show is a family affair, following the exploits of The Harrisons, as they deal with customers at the Gold and Silver Pawn shop in Las Vegas. Each episode features a variety of customers who come in with items they're hoping will be valuable. We get to see the guys learn about the items, value them, and then haggle with the sellers to reach a mutually-agreeable price. Pawn Stars: Volume Four includes 16 episodes, the final ten of Season Three and the first six of Season Four.
Reality series such as these work on three levels: surprise, education, and personality. Lucky for us, Pawn Stars balances all three.
* Surprise. Storage Wars and American Pickers build a lot of tension by having their characters go out in search of goods to sell. Each time a locker is opened or a new barn is approached there's the possibility for new discoveries. In contrast, Gold and Silver Pawn is always in the same place. That means there's a little less of the surprise and tension found in other shows (save for the haggling phase), but the producers can cherry-pick the best finds to air. It's obvious that Gold and Silver gets a lot of foot traffic, so they have plenty of options to choose from and pretty much everything we see is interesting in some way.
* Education. Though this isn't a show about history per se, it does offer a lot of info and trivia. The Harrisons are pretty knowledgeable about many kinds of items, and when they don't know they're perfectly willing to call in experts to help. That info gets passed on us, and though most of it is trivia (rather than solid historical data) it keeps the show informative and entertaining.
* Personality. The guys behind the counter are family, and that comes through clearly in their jovial but critical attitudes towards each another. It's easy to get a sense of who these guys are, but they're not the focus of the show; the items for sale and the deal take center stage, rather than the buyers. Sure, The Harrisons are used in talking head interviews, but for sharing information not confessions. And while some of the buyers are characters, they're really just people who think they have something of value.
If antique-style shows aren't your thing, there's nothing about Pawn Stars that will change your mind. The shows can get a bit same-y after a while, and the repetition can get tedious.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Pawn Stars: Volume Four looks and sounds fine. The transfer is clean and bright with no obvious compression artifacts. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo audio keeps the haggling clearly understandable and well balanced with the ambient sounds of the shop. There are no extras.
Pawn Stars: Volume Four is a fine release, if you can forgive the weird splitting of Seasons Three and Four over multiple sets. Since there's not much of a learning curve, this is a fine place for the curious to start.
Not pricey and Not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2012 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 352 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site