What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that tweens who are interested in history will hopefully be hooked on this PBS gem, but the show will probably seem a bit dry for kids used to colorful, fast-paced cartoons (unfortunately). On occasion, the show features weapons and tobacco/alcohol-related items, as well as artwork and photographs with images that may be considered violent (such as battlefield scenes). But all items being appraised are presented in a historical context, and there's no graphic discussion of violent acts or promotion of alcohol or tobacco products. A few attendees seem in it only for the (potential) money, but overall both the appraisers and the attendees are models of knowledge and curiosity.
What's the story?
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is an informative appraisal show in which everyday objects can turn into priceless treasures. Each episode takes place in a different U.S. city. Attendees bring their collectibles, heirlooms, and random items of mysterious origin for appraisal by antiques dealers and experts from respected auction houses. An owner might think he or she has a Civil War sword (with the papers to prove it), but the appraiser delivers a shocking revelation -- it's a fake, and here are the reasons why. Or a garage-sale addict who paid $5 for a pottery jug is stunned when the appraiser reveals the truth: The jug was made by a slave and is worth $500,000. Most episodes also feature a special segment in which the host joins a local expert for an informative tour of a local museum or other organization that specializes in a certain type of antique or collectible.
Is it any good?
There's so much to learn from Antiques Roadshow. It's not nearly as fast-paced as most of network programming, but if you're at all interested in history, waiting for the verdict on each item can be more suspenseful than the scariest thriller. And the breadth of history is never-ending because there's no end to the types of featured items, their origins, and the time periods in which they were made and used. An appraisal of an ancient Chinese vessel might be followed by an appraisal of rhinestone sunglasses once owned by Elvis Presley, and so on.
The show also inspires kids to learn more about their own family history and heirlooms, as well as the value and all-around fun of collecting. Appraisers tell owners and viewers how to avoid purchasing fakes and forgeries and how to care for and restore precious objects. Sometimes kids even appear on the show, talking to appraisers with ease and pride about their personal treasures.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the history tied to specific items. If an old gun is on display, for example, questions could include: In what era was it made, and what is its specific use? Was it made during war time? How was the gun made (given the existing tools and technologies of the time)? Who might have used the gun and why? Or, if an old cocktail set or cigar box is up for appraisal: What's the history of alcohol and tobacco in the United States? How did early settlers discover that tobacco can be smoked? How did tobacco become one of the largest cash crops in America? There's lots of good discussion fodder in most of the items featured on the show.