For some pop culture collectors to watch Syfy’s “Collection Intervention,” it feels something like Googling your sore knee and concluding you have a brain tumor.
But no matter what the size of your stash, “Collection Intervention” (premieres tonight) and the Travel Channel’s new “Toy Hunter” (premieres Wednesday) are interesting additions to the reality genre.
“Collection Intervention” follows Elyse Luray as she tries to help obsessive collectors navigate, manage and sell their collections. Luray is a former head of the Popular Arts Department at Christie’s auction house, so she knows her stuff.
In tonight’s episode, she meets with Garet and Consetta, avid “Star Wars” fans whose collection went from one room to covering every wall and a lot of floor space in their house. Consetta, especially, has an intense emotional investment in the collection tied to memories of her childhood. There’s also Mark and Lolly. The couple have been married a couple years and are in debt, but Mark continues to feed his Catwoman obsession. Trouble is, he keeps almost all of it hidden in the garage, and it’s not in good shape.
While the show could easily turn into a train wreck and present its subjects as laughingstocks, it’s entirely respectful of them. It touches on the psychological side with narration talking about signs that collections have become an obsession, and Luray is generous with her hugs. She’s also eminently practical, giving advice on condition and market value, and helping them take that important, highly emotional first step and sell pieces in the last third of the episode.
It’s kind of like a geek version of “Clean Sweep,” which featured a lot of tears as people parted with their beloved pieces, but without the makeover. But by focusing on two collectors each episode, things can feel rushed. And Luray talks a lot about giving the subjects tips about curating, displaying and storing their collections, but in the first episode, at least, little of that advice makes it to the viewer. As a collector, I’d like that information.
With a few tweaks, I think “Collection Intervention” could be a more interesting, useful show. Regardless, I still only bought one of the three Aquaman figures I’d been eyeing on eBay earlier.
It’s too bad Syfy and Travel Channel aren’t sister networks, because crossovers with “Toy Hunter” could be mutually beneficial. I’ll bet host Jordan Hembrough would have loved to take some of Consetta’s valuable toys off her hands.
Hembrough is a toy dealer who travels the country to surf through warehouses and people’s garages looking for items to sell through his business.
I didn’t get a copy of Wednesday’s episode in time, but I did watch Hembrough’s one-shot “Toy Hunters” that aired previously on the channel. The new show will follow the same format. Like “Pawn Stars,” “Storage Wars” and “Antiques Roadshow,” it’s a fun look at what everyone dreams is a fortune in their attics, with special interest for geeks of a certain age.
You can tell Hembrough loves his work. In the one-shot, he and a colleague all but “squee” like tween girls when he finds a rocket-firing Boba Fett prototype in a comic shop in Cincinnati, home of former toy giant Kenner. He’s also in toy heaven when he visits a former Thundercats toy designer who has a prototype Mad Bubbler. Both are worth thousands each, but he’s only able to sell one of them at New York Comic Con.
For viewers, it’s fun to live vicariously through Hembrough. Over the course of the show, there are many toys I’m sure I’ll want. And there will be flashes of despair when he runs across things I actually had that are now worth a lot if I’d kept them or taken better care of them.
For those setting their DVRs, note that the series doesn’t have the “s” at the end.
Both are great nostalgia shows, even if they do feel overly staged at times. But all these shows do by the nature of having to get filming permission and setting camera placement, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. And they don’t have the annoying condescension and mean-spiritedness of AMC’s “Comic Book Men.”