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'Treasure Detectives,' 'Car Chasers' review: No 'Pawn Stars'

From left, Catherine Knebel, Curtis Dowling, Andy Smith

From left, Catherine Knebel, Curtis Dowling, Andy Smith of CNBC's "Treasure Detectives." Credit: CNBC

THE SHOWS "Treasure Detectives" and "The Car Chasers"

WHEN | WHERE Premiering Tuesday night at 9 and 10, respectively, on CNBC

WHAT THEY'RE ABOUT For the first time ever, CNBC gets into reality TV. First up is "Treasure Detectives," about a team of L.A.-based art and antique/collectible experts who are approached by clients wondering whether the wonderful treasure they have -- such as a classic hood ornament or a Roy Lichtenstein print -- are worth many thousands or are forged pieces of junk. It stars Curtis Dowling, a British TV personality and host of shows like "Cash in the Celebrity Attic," and "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is." In pursuit of the truth, he leads his team to other experts who lead them down the byways of art and collectibles arcana.

"Chasers" is about a Lubbock, Texas-based classic car flipper, Jeff Allen, who buys beauties (like a '57 Chevy) then sells them at a nice markup; tonight he preps a 1980 Ferrari GTBi (like the one Tom Selleck drove in "Magnum, P.I.") for an auction in Dallas.

MY SAY CNBC puts only its big toe into the tepid reality TV waters, but caution is understandable. It's a sucker's game, and there's a lot of fools' gold out there (that's "Pawn Star" talk for "really bad reality shows"). But you also kind of wished CNBC, embarking on this new adventure, had a keener sense of drama and originality with these newcomers -- neither of which is bad, but just (well) tepid.

Of the two, "Treasure Detectives" is the better bet simply because the process of investigation -- as with one of its templates, "History Detectives" -- is fun, informative and not entirely trivial. (Who knew Lichtenstein had a middle name that began with the letter "F," which he signed an exact way, specifically... oh, never mind.)

"The Car Chasers" is basically the classic car version of "Pawn Stars," which is to say it's heavily character-driven with a whole lotta haggling. But while Jeff Allen may be lively and follically challenged, he's definitely no Rick Harrison, nor does the show dive deeply enough into its subject to be of much lasting interest to the intended audience, real gear heads.


"Treasure Detectives" B-

"The Car Chasers" C+


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