Saturday, January 4, 2014
Four Rooms: CBC Counter Programming
On the surface CBC-TV's newest series Four Rooms seems like the kind of typical afternoon fare found on competing cable channels.
Four Rooms comes from the producers of Dragons' Den --hence a certain slickness and close editing that keeps the pace percolating.
It can best be described as Dragon's Den Meets Pawn Stars. At least there's no Duck Dynasty in it!
I actually like Pawn Stars despite its "shlockiness" because it mixes in huge dollops of history.
Four Rooms stars Reshmi Nair as the beauteous hostess who introduces us to four dealers in antiques chosen because they're so markedly different from each other.
I'm not quite sure how the contestants are chosen but they've imported from all parts of Canada to present precious items before the four experts.
The catch here is they can chose the order of seeing the experts who are each ensconced in separate rooms.
At the end of some chatter each dealer puts forward his best offer and the guest must take it or go on to the next room --there's no turning back. The fun lies in the deal making that is going on.
The dealers are Jessica Lindsay, Phillips, Scott Landon, Derreck Martin and Eddy Rogo. Sometimes they go after each other which is naughty but nice.
None of them know until the conclusion what the others have bid.
Dragon's Den is a huge CBC hit although it seems to be made for $1.99 an episode.
No matter --it delivers a huge ratings sting that some of CBC's priciest TV dramas have failed to do.
I'm assuming Four Rooms is replacing CBC's spin off of Antiques Roadshow. I'm not sure why that one faltered or was it simply considered too costly because of the travel arrangements.
The first hour has a guy trying to sell Ronnie Hawkins' sofa. There are no stomping marks on it I can assure you.
And a woman has a precious letter written by reclusive author J.D. Salinger for which she asks a cool $60,000. Turns out Salinger often wrote to impressionable young things.
A guy has two books owned by Marilyn Monroe which are authenticated. But did the stunning MM really read all of Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln as well as The Brothers Karamazov?
It's often fascinating fun watching the different styles of the buyers as well as their techniques to soften up the clients.
But at an hour the pace can dawdle at times. I'd suggest cutting each segment to a half hour and running two of these back to back as is done so successfully on Pawn Stars.
It's no use ranting against reality TV.
It's here and Four Rooms is near the top of the reality TV market.
And it should get you to wondering what you have in your home that might bring in top dollar.
FOUR ROOMS PREMIERES ON CBC SUNDAY JANUARY 5 AT 8 P.M.
MY RATING: ***.