Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Bargain Hunt

There was a time, in our life before poverty, when we had cable TV with hundreds of channels we didn't watch. It was digital and we could spend hours with the remote control flipping past shows of no interest until eventually we'd fall asleep.

During this time Amy found one channel out of the 743 channels available which had programs she adored...BBC America. She fell in love with people who spoke in a language I eventually recognized as English.

BBC America's programming has been widely imitated in the U.S. It's where all those "makeover" programs started except the American networks outspend the BBC. Where ABC might spend a million dollars making over someone's home, the BBC would fork over a thousand bucks to put some plants in some unsuspecting woman's backyard, plus they'd require the spouse/lover/children/neighbors of the "winner" to do half the work.

One program on the BBC which no American network has stolen yet is "Bargain Hunt."

It was hosted by this guy:

Although having a host, or "presenter" as they're called in England, such as this clown might be reason enough not to do an Americanized version, I believe the brain trusts at American networks figure "Bargain Hunt" simply won't translate to the U.S. because it's ...well, it's cheap.

The premise is there are two teams made up of various combinations of people: a man and wife, father and daughter, mother and daughter, two gentleman "friends", a couple of drinking buddies, neighbors, etc. Each team is given roughly 150 bucks and told to go hunt around flea markets, garage sales or wherever to try to find a bargain. Then a week later whatever they have bought during their wild and wooly adventure is put up for auction. If the items they bought sell for more than they purchased them for, they get to keep the "profit!"

As I'm sure you can envision - this is compelling stuff. It's hard to believe it's only a 30 minute show...it seems so much longer. There are lengthy -serious- discussions on whether an antique fishing reel is worth 40 quid, or whether one team made a grave mistake and overpaid for a 1950's era picnic basket because the original spoons were missing.

When I watched (insomnia will do strange things to you), more often than not, the teams lost money at the auctions. That was how the show climaxed almost every time. There was a "winner" though...the team that "lost" the least. End of show. No one got anything...no parting gifts Johnny, no new car, no cash, no surprise visit from an offspring the participants didn't know they fathered...not diddly. Everyone simply went home.

Now, on those rare occasions when the turquoise colored ceramic Eiffel tower a team purchased actually made money at the auction then it was a time for great excitement and the winning team would get very enthused, plus they got to keep the cash...not the 150 bucks. The show got its 150 bucks back; the team got to split whatever money remained after paying back the show.


Often "the winners" would split like 6 dollars and be absolutely giddy.

Maybe it's because they had this guy:

To keep us on the edge of our seats and to keep viewers from wondering why they would watch a show where the big prize might pay for a large one topping Tuesday night special pizza...if you didn't tip the delivery guy.

Anyway, this was a very long way to get to my point.

Amy and I are going to do our own version of Bargain Hunt.

Yes, that should give you a good indication of the exciting lives we lead.

Actually I was thinking of cheap dates and this show kept coming back to mind.

We haven't ironed out all the rules but essentially once or twice a month we're each going to take ten bucks and go together to sleazy pawn shops, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores and the like and look for something we think we can sell on Ebay for a profit. The profit will have to cover the eBay listing fees, etc.

I think we've determined that whoever makes the most "profit", if any, will get to keep it and should the other player also make money the "winner" will get to keep the other player's money as well.

The initial ten bucks will have to be returned though.

That's it...end of game.

Since we're limiting ourselves to ten dollars I don't think we're going to get rich, but we're also not going to go broke.

In truth I'm only hoping for two or three things: That we get out of the house and spend time together; that we have some cheap laughs while admiring truly tacky merchandise, and of course, most of all, I'm hoping we never run into this guy: