How many times has this happened to you? You’re in a store and Kung Fu Vampire comes in and tries to sell you a skinned fruit bat. But wait—he doesn’t have the proper taxidermy authenticity paperwork! If I had a dime…
This was just one of the scenes from Oddities: San Francisco that aired last night at midnight on the Science Channel. I’m not sure what’s so scientific about this show unless you count the skinned bat that was pinned to a board. Or perhaps it is because of the science that created the white contact lenses for the aforementioned Mr. Vampire (or is it just Kung Fu? Not sure what’s proper). Alas, Kung Fu Vampire was denied a sale by Lincoln, one of the workers at the store Loved To Death. Loved To Death is a shop of weird medical items, Victorian whatever and dead animals with the correct paperwork.
The first customer of this episode is a Steampunk cellist who is looking for something to top off her red corset outfit. She’s going to be in the Mad Hatter Holiday Parade in Vallejo. The owner of Loved To Death Audra and her “picker” Wednesday show the cellist a pair of Steampunky goggles. She wants them so they start to haggle. It goes something like this:
Audra: I’ll let you have them for $250.
Cellist: Um. I only want to spend $150.
Audra: Um. I can go $225.
Cellist: OK! That’s much better. I’ll take them.
Cellist, that’s not much better. Anyway, I point this exchange out because this is the exact template for all the haggling that takes place. Whether it is a buyer in the shop or a seller of an item to go in the shop, the haggling only lasts for two exchanges. Now I’m not naïve in the ways of the scripted reality show. I realize that these people and their items are already a done deal and they are, in a sense, recreating the moment. But try to mix it up a little, Oddities. Also, Audra, Wednesday and Lincoln aren’t actors so their “Hi, can I help you?” is a little stilted. But I like them. They know their stuff or at least took the time to read up on their stuff before the cameras started rolling. There are some real reaction moments like when the Hooded Antique Snake Bite Kit Guy walks in and Lincoln does a quick double take. Or when Wednesday asks Captain Whiskey Nick who is wearing a Steampunk leg brace if he injured his leg in the war. Captain Whiskey Nick tells her he had a case of “kneemonia”. I applauded Wednesday’s blank stare. That was real. I also applauded Wednesday’s ability to have pointed, blunt cut bangs.
While Lincoln is minding the shop, Audra and Wednesday head out to Vallejo to see more about the Mad Hatter parade and pick some weird stuff along the way. They stop at Obtainium Works to see Major Catastrophe. It keeps getting better, doesn’t it? Major Catastophe sends Audra to his brother, Kevin. Which surprised me. Not First Lieutenant Commander Lord Kevintage Steamship. No, Kevin. He is a collector of all kinds of random Victorian, yes, Steampunky stuff. He sells Audra the single most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a dental model with celluloid teeth that students would practice on. It will live for a long time in my nightmares. Don’t believe me? Look:
And now you will never unseen it.
Meanwhile, Wednesday purchases an old shock treatment helmet from Captain Whiskey Nick. Later she meets Audra and they show off their bounty. Then Major Catastrophe arrives to take them to the parade in a bicycle cart thing with plastic flamingos perched on it. Roll credits.
The DVR caught the first few moments of the next episode. A recovering obsessive-compulsive wants to purchase something gross for his recovery. Wednesday shows him a Victorian tuberculosis bowl—and that’s where it cuts off.
I want to go to this store Loved To Death. But only as my alter-ego, Doctor Mandolin of the Sunspots.