TV Review- Oddities

You can sum up Oddities- the new reality show about Manhattan’s Obscura Antiques and Oddities shop- in a nutshell.

Basically Mike Zohn (male, bald, rotund and cheerful) and Evan Michelson (female, ice blond, stick thin and unsettling) run a shop with some really weird stuff in it. People come by looking for weird stuff or looking to sell weird stuff.

What’s good is that there’s no skimping on the weirdness of the items: we’re talking really weird.

Don’t get me wrong-  you do have to pitch your expectations at a certain level. They’re not going to show the cameras the really good stuff: like the still beating heart of Des O’Connor in a jar, a dog that speaks Latin or a taxidermied Bigfoot penis.

Although that’s fair enough really- if they did show it, everyone in New York would want a stuffed sasquatch phallus and the shop owners wouldn’t ever be able to get anything done. Once you accept that and revise your definition of ‘odd’,  this fun little reality show will really float your (haunted) boat if you have sort of taste for the macabre whatsoever.

For example I had no idea that mummification was a process that could occur naturally in nature. Now I’ve seen a cat that’s  undergone the process it’ll haunt my dreams for the rest of my life.

Similarly you may imagine a two headed cow might have a funky Push Me Pull You vibe going on. You would be incorrect. It’s actually a twisted mess of genetic wrongflesh- Doctor Doolittle would have been a whole other story if that had been included: possibly one set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

But as weird and strangely intriguing as this stuff is it has absolutely nothing on oddity of the people who own it.

You may be shocked to learn this but the kind of people who have a naturally mummified cat for sale or who are looking for an antique surgical table tend to outer reaches of the social spectrum.

A playwright called Edgar shows up in the first episode who reminded me that people tend to go one of two ways that on the extreme far edges of camp. At around 4000 Nortons (Or 1500 Graysons if you prefer imperial measurement) you have a split where it’s either up towards high-pitched noises only dogs can hear, or down towards intensely lisping psychopathic. Edgar was very much in the latter territory.

His interest was in a vintage 1960’s US naval straightjacket, and he was absolutely delighted when the young shop assistant offered to demonstrate it. Quite remarkably, when he baulked at the price he was allowed to rent it for six weeks.

However this is also one of the shows best qualities. Though some of the customers featured are pretty odd, the show never feels exploitive. If you’re really into embalming (and who wouldn’t be) and want a 19th century embalming table these folks will get it for you, If you want to rent an antique straightjacket and send it back covered in man-batter, these people will deal with it. No problem, No questions asked. It’s a refreshing change from the ‘lets get unstable folk totally trashed and see what happens’ mode of a lot of reality TV.

Occasionally some of the tropes of the genre will force their way in. It is more than a little silly to try to up the tension of bartering scenes with dramatic music when one of the participants clearly has absolutely no idea what his whale ear bone is worth and would probably accept a cookie for it. Also the less said about the comedy intern (I’m called the Cerd! I put nerd and cool together!) the better.

Generally though, the show is willing to get out of its own way and let you just enjoy the weird and wonderful nature of the objects for sale and the people selling them.

And sooner or later they’re going to accidentally show a shot of that Bigfoot penis so you’re going to want to see that.

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Oddities is on Discovery Real Time

New Episodes air Thursdays 10pm – repeated through the week.

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About Ian Dunn
I love avocados, WH Auden and dinosaurs but I don't like effort.

One Response to TV Review- Oddities

  1. Pingback: Desperate Scousewives « Tellysquawks

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