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Adding Some Guesswork to Memorabilia Sales, Just for Televised Fun

Adding Some Guesswork to Memorabilia Sales, Just for Televised Fun
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p>By NEIL GENZLINGER
Published: May 30, 2012

Ah, the stresses of the memorabilia sellers on “Final Offer,” Discovery’s new entry in what might be called How Much Can I Get for My Stuff Television. Four buyers, but no clue as to which one is willing to pay the most. “If only I could drill into their heads and see what they’re thinking,” these hopefuls must be musing.

Actually, in the premiere on Thursday night, one seller, Doug Arbittier, could do just that. He has brought a 250-year-old neurosurgery kit to sell: a crude, sinister-looking collection of tools that would not be out of place in a “Saw” movie.

Mr. Arbittier stops just short of putting the kit to use, but his segment is nonetheless the high point of a spunky opening episode of this series, which gives the now familiar buy-and-sell dynamics of shows like “Pawn Stars” a “Let’s Make a Deal” twist.

People with something to sell present their treasures to four professional dealers, William J. Roland, Patrick Painter, Jake Chait and Jordan Tabach-Bank. The gimmick of the show is that the seller meets separately with each dealer and negotiates an offer but must say yes or no to that offer before moving on to the next; there’s no turning back. So if the first guy offers $10,000, do you accept, or do you move on to Door No. 2 in hopes of a higher price?

It’s an utterly spurious conceit, of course, since in the real world anyone with something valuable to sell would solicit estimates from a number of dealers, then pick one, or would use an auction house. But it makes for an entertaining show, especially since the buyers don’t know if they are the first to meet with the seller or the last. There are poker faces on both sides of the table.

In the premiere the items offered for sale include a 1928 baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, three hoods from Nascar vehicles autographed by the drivers and — the capper for the show — a jewel-encrusted gold sword handle from Bali. And there’s that neurosurgery kit, which includes a serrated circular cutting tool that might be useful for making cheese balls out of a wedge of Cheddar.

In the mid-18th century, though, the cheese was the human head, as Mr. Arbittier demonstrates by holding the thing against the skull of the show’s host, Michael Kalish. “Then,” he says, “I would go ahead and just start turning, drive that into your head. Then you might wake up — that would happen probably one out of a million times — or you might die.”

Hard to imagine how bad a headache you would have to have to let a doctor near you with this thing.

Final Offer

Discovery Channel, Thursday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

Produced for the Discovery Channel by FremantleMedia North America. For FremantleMedia North America: George Moll, executive producer; Jeff Altrock, co-executive producer. For the Discovery Channel: Anna Geddes, executive producer.

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