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Pawn Stars is a show that airs on History, the rebranded reincarnation of the venerable Hitler-o-rama once known as the History Channel. I don't have any idea what time it is supposed to air, other than that it seems to be on all the time. I watch it approximately 4 times a week, largely by accident.

The show revolves around a Vegas pawn shop, run by a dynasty of obese men who reproduce, I suspect, by asexual budding as there is not one woman among them, except for a tattooed young stripper-type who appears for a handful of episodes as a part-timer before vanishing. The business is structured among them as a hierarchy that vaguely resembles that of Imperial Japan; at the top is Richard Benjamin Harrison, otherwise known as "the Old Man". He acts as the savvy and tightfisted symbolic leader of the company but does very little actual hands-on work, like an Emperor Scrooge McDuck. Beneath him are his two shoguns, Rick and Corey Harrison, his son and grandson respectively, who do the majority of the on-screen work and penny-pinching deals making for which the show is known for. Lower still is court jester Austin "Chumlee" Russell, whose primary duty seems to be standing around Rick and Corey while making incredibly inane comments.

The structure of each episode consists of short procedural blocks based around products people bring into the store to sell. Typically, Rick or Cory identifies the artifact and blurt out a few fun facts about the history around it while asking the customer a few questions before calling in one of their many highly specific experts to verify the authenticity of the item. Once authenticity and condition is assessed, the customer is asked for a price and then immediately low-balled by about 50%. Some haggling then ensues, tracked by a pricetag graphic at the bottom of the screen that flips back and forth with each successive offer. More often than not the customer caves, enticed by the promise of "cash money right now" in exchange for their "paperweight" or "waste of space" which was given to them by some long dead relative as an heirloom. Outside the store they are then interviewed by a camera crew about how satisfied they were with their transaction and sent on their way to spend their money elsewhere in Vegas.

To supplement the bland predictability of this process, a loose, whimsical plot is often grafted to the episode. Examples of such plots include the guys hiring a personal trainer, shooting an antique gun, or a particularly large purchase. Memorably mundane ones include the elder Harrison's addiction to coffee and the case of Rick's stolen lunches. These small flavor pieces help keep the remarkably small cast from becoming intolerably rigid, as they are in nearly every transaction (Rick being particularly formulaic in his process of identifying an item, making a joke about it to himself, and then calling in an expert). They also help provide a concluding note for the otherwise non-linear show, frequently in the form of a Star Trek-esque moment of shared whimsy.

Pawn Stars is a keystone in the A+E Network's Conspiracy To Save/Destroy Television.

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