I admit it – I was just about ready to give up on Elyse Luray and the entirety of Collection Intervention. Something about Elyse’s approach in the last two episodes bugged – sure, there were some standout moments (like the thought of having 30 thousand modern age comics, all in nice, complete runs) but overall, I felt like the show was confused and the host cloying. I kept having emotional whiplash in response to this show, not sure if I was supposed to be envious of these collections or come away with the same vague itchy feeling that I get from watching Hoarders.
Most of this issue boiled down to my annoyance with Elyse. I didn’t like the vibe that she was bringing to the show, treating these collectors like hoarders, constantly jumping in with her amazing expertise on every pop culture topic known to man. That might be true – she has a wildly impressive resume - but it felt like a gimmick in here. I never got the vibe that Elyse was genuinely interested in the collections or the collectors – just in her amazing knowledge and ability to look shocked and judgmental at the same time.
But – but! – then came last night’s “No More Arigato, Mr. Roboto” (and I’m even willing to forgive that title). My interests were kind of split in here – I have passing familiarity with Battlestar Galactica (which means I know who to call when I need to fact check) and no idea whatsoever about those robots (other than the fact that they looked cool on those shelves) – but the big change was with Elyse and her approach to these collections.
This week features Mike, owner of pretty much all things Battlestar Galactica. He’s also part owner of a comic book store, husband to Carol and father of an adorable child (hands up if you expected that kid to be named Baltar). Mike’s house is gorgeous, organized and spacious… so where’s the BSG stash?
That would be in the garage. The entire garage. There was a gorgeous garage-based collection on Toy Hunters recently, which got me thinking that that’s not a bad idea and perhaps I could spread out that way… but seeing Mike’s melted collection (and stepping outside into the Deep South summer) reminded me that, oh, wait. Yes. That’s a terrible idea. It’s a horrible way to store anything heat-sensitive: toys, prints, signed photographs.
Mike has, quite possibly, everything Battlestar Galactica related, all melting away in his garage. He has a few outliers in his collection as well – some reprint Star Trek Megos, a few SDCC-exclusive busts – but the bulk of his garage is stacked high with BSG. Here’s the amazing thing, though. When Elyse saw the sum of his collection – when she stood back and realized that this was a complete run of, well, everything – she didn’t suggest he sell it off. She didn’t tell him that a real collection had to have an original shooting script or a piece of the set or whatever. She actually told him not to sell anything BSG, stay focused on his true love – and to think about proper storage and display.
When Elyse said that? My heart went pitter-pat. This is what I’ve wanted from this show all along – some kind of appreciation for what are by and large awesome collections, coupled with a little something on proper storage and display.
When Elyse brought BSG icon Richard Hatch over to talk to Mike and left them to squeal over figures and reminisce over the show together, I might have let loose a tiny cheer. It was soon drowned out by maniacal giggling, though, since immediately after Hatch appeared on screen, I got three texts from friends asking if Elyse showing up with Christopher Eccleston in tow would get me to thin out my Dalek army (answer: yes. Well, I say yes. Maybe. Some of them. A few. Possibly….).
Richard Hatch wins as well, given that he stood in a garage full of tiny, plastic versions of himself and kept his humor and grace throughout. Well done, Captain Apollo. Well done indeed.
Amazingly, it’s with Mike’s wife, Carol, that the biggest Elyse showdown occurs. Carol wants her house entirely memorabilia-free. Carol seems shocked – shocked! – that Mike would think it okay to bring toys into the house, despite being married to a man not just already obsessed with BSG but also part owner of a comic book store. Some things should be obvious, Carol. Some things should be very, very obvious.
In the end, Elyse finally convinces Carol to support her husband and his long term love of BSG. They go for the slightly obvious answer of an ongoing display at the comic book store, opening up the back room as a museum of all things BSG. Mike’s in for a surprise as friends, family and “people I don’t know” (heh) welcome him to his new museum. And who’s there to help him show off his collection? My new favorite action figure, Richard Hatch – who gives Mike an original shooting script, complete with full-color artist renderings. That’s… wow. That’s quite cool, and Mike is understandably overwhelmed. All of this is fantastic – a happy and nearly perfect solution to a gorgeous collection that was just badly housed.
And then there’s Scott, wonderfully paranoid Robot Scott who believes absolutely that his robots are an investment more solid than the bank. Well, okay… maybe that’s true. He’s living in a world full of nicely displayed robot armies, all neat and orderly on shelves that have quite possibly taken over his world. I’m not seeing a problem here. Sure, it’s not my thing, but that seems livable.
Oh. The garage. Yes. Well, that does seem a bit crazy. Scott offers up the term “Dig-dugging” to the Collection Intervention lexicon (dig-dug: dɪɡ-dʌɡ to make your way through an over-packed garage as if it were a classic video game, progressing by picking up a shipping box full of unopened toys, stepping into the now-available floorspace before putting the box behind you, blocking your path. See also: Scott’s laundry day.)
While Mike got a chance to hang out with Richard Hatch, Scott gets a therapist to talk to him about his attachment to robots, his fear of banks and his definition of “crazy” (apparently, “crazy” means “action figures in the bed.” I object – that doesn’t automatically mean “crazy.” It could just mean “temporarily out of shelf space”). Scott’s not too down with the therapy approach and refuses to give in to the reality TV cliché of miraculous epiphany from 5 minutes of chatting. Add that to the fact that he has a MIB NECA Portal gun in his garage and a slew of arcade games in his house (including Tron… Tron!), and I could totally hang out with Scott.
Possibly because she could sense a losing battle from the moment she stepped into RobotVille – or possibly because she was a bit afraid to stand between a man and his 1500 robots – Elyse doesn’t want to stage a yard sale or drag Scott to Frank & Son or any of her previous attempts at “helping.” Instead, she just wants to help the guy inventory what he actually has. He firmly and absolutely believes that his financial security rests with these figures, so having an accurate gauge of value seems like a reasonable request.
First stop is an appraiser who has taken a look at the list of visible robots that Elyse sent along. Scott’s collection is valuable, but maybe not to the degree that he’d hoped (though they are talking the difference between appraised value and ideal retail price). Still convinced he has a mint in plastic, he and Elyse take to the stash and start making an actual, complete inventory.
Again, there was a little bit of a cheer. Granted, I want more information here – what program are they using for this inventory? How are they organizing this? Where are they pulling the numbers from? – but I feel like maybe you don’t ask those questions unless you have a collection that drifts into the “possibly too large” category.
I stopped feeling the Collection Intervention love recently because I felt like it was trying too hard to be Hoarders. I didn’t like the way that Elyse worked with the people featured – how she evaluated their collections, how she decided what classified as a good or authentic collection, how she wanted them to thin things down. This week, though still not perfect, the tone of the show has shifted. There are still plenty of Hoarder-esque shots and fake-dramatic moments, but the feel of the show is different, trending more toward appreciating the collections and the dedication that these collectors have. If things continue on in this vein, I’m a happy person indeed.
This refreshed interest will be put to the test in the next episode, though, as Elyse confronts one of my bigger fears: The Flintstones.