I've recently read several intellectual arguments for or against the Republicans budget proposal that would cut funding for PBS and NPR. To be frank I don't understand half of what they are arguing about and nor do I care. They can argue about politics, freedom of speech, and educational programming until kingdom come, but if Antiques Roadshow is taken off PBS I will be legitimately pissed.
For those who have not experienced the brilliance of Antiques Roadshow, it is a program that travels around the country and gives local people the opportunity to have their antiques appraised by professionals. It may sound a bit droll, but nothing can describe the suspense that builds as the expert slowly reveals the unique history of an antique and you wonder: will it only be worth a few hundred dollars or a few thousands? (In my experience it is always the Native American artifacts that consistently hit the jackpot.)
Not only is it suspenseful and an interesting, but the “human” aspect of the show is brilliant. Those who bring in their antiques are consistently eccentric, and the antiquarian’s extreme passion for obscure topics (e.g. 19th century toy soldiers) is boundlessly entertaining. I remember one episode where an appraiser was so moved by the beauty of a Ming Dynasty Magdog statue that he began to weep. At this moment I knew that this show had all the potential elements for a Christopher Guest mockumentary (here is an example of Christopher Guest's genius work). Where else can you find such raw human emotion anywhere else on national television? Nowhere.
You may argue that allotting millions of dollars to keep one show running is not pragmatic, but I would like to remind you of the other irreplaceable shows that PBS gives and has given us. PBS is the creator of Wishbone, the television series about a jack Russell terrier who relates the events of his master to classic works of literature. Because of Wishbone my brother passed high school English, and I felt that I possessed more knowledge about literature than my classmates. Subsequently I felt English was strength of mine. So it could be argued that my exposure to Wishbone at a young age inspired me and predisposed me towards my current path in pursuing a PhD in English literature.
How can we cut a program that grooms our future intellectuals through the assistance of a clever jack Russell terrier? Also, how else am I supposed to watch Masterpiece Theatre when PBS is the only provider? No more Downton Abbey? Can we support such injustice? These are serious questions.So please sign the following petition so we may continue enjoying the epic episodes of Antiques Roadshow.