Yeah, this is a weird one, but stick with me and it’ll (hopefully) make sense before long. Normally on Hollywood! Adapt This! we stick to nostalgic properties from yesteryear that are in need of a contemporary reboot, fantastic fiction that hasn’t been adapted for other media, or true-life stories that need to reach a wider audience. Today, we’ll take a look at a long-running, international antiques appraisal series that has been playing on public broadcasts since 1979. It’s no surprise that the Emmy-nominated series hasn’t jumped into the form of a narrative feature yet, but I’ll attempt to explain how that might just work. Hit the jump to find out more. Hollywood! Adapt this: Antiques Roadshow.
Starting in 1977 as a BBC documentary about a London auction house touring the English West Country, the idea caught on and turned into a series that spawned annual Christmas specials and various international spin-offs. The traveling show set up shop in cities around the world, where locals were able to bring in their antiques for appraisal. Though the majority are undoubtedly of little consequence or worth, the surprise pieces that catch the eye of appraisal experts are pushed to the forefront, along with their hopeful owners. Each episode then features the owner talking about how they acquired the item in question and what they think it might be worth. The appraisal experts then reveal the actual history of the item in question and what it could be worth at auction. It’s a strangely captivating show that combines the gimmicks of game shows with the pastime of people-watching, and a smattering of historical factoids throughout. So why make it into a narrative feature?
You’ve only to watch a few episodes to become enchanted by a particular object’s beauty, worth, story, or nostalgia. The people who own these items and the appraisers who spend their lives in search of them are every bit as colorful as the antiques themselves, and often moreso. Therein lies the heart of a narrative adaptation, one based on the hopes and dreams of owners and appraisers alike. But how best to portray that? Look no further than the life’s work of one Christopher Guest, writer and director of such uniquely hilarious mockumentaries as Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and of course, This Is Spinal Tap.
It’s Guest’s brand of off-beat comedy that led me to this idea in the first place, a mockumentary style project that takes the premise of Antiques Roadshow and puts it in a feature film format. I’ll leave the humor up to Guest as that’s clearly his defined territory, but all one has to do is watch an episode or two of the show to get an idea of how its reality can be stretched to absurd proportions.
In doing my research for this piece, I found out that a similar style joke in the vein of what I’m going for was played on an episode in the past. “In the 1980s a girl wrote in to Jim’ll Fix It to ask if Jimmy Savile, would “fix it” for her to “accidentally” drop and smash a seemingly-valuable vase in an episode of the show. This was broadcast as part of a regular edition, as well as in the Jim’ll Fix It episode, with many of the Roadshow spectators looking on in astonishment, until antiques expert David Battie explained the ruse” (via Wikipedia). It could easily be a one-trick pony, but the people and the objects of Antiques Roadshow are more than colorful enough in reality to offer up some rich source material. Or maybe I’m just overestimating the worth of my own idea. Either way, let me know in the comments below!
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Be sure to tune in to next week’s Hollywood! Adapt This! when we take on another property ripe for revival!