#44) TV Review: “Shipping Wars”

Can a show that has the word “wars” in its title actually bring something new to the table?  Believe it or not, A&E’s new reality show “Shipping Wars” actually does.

The easiest way to describe the show would be as a mix of “American Pickers” and “Storage Wars.”  It follows independent truckers who ship cargo that is considered too high-risk for larger shipping companies.   Items featured on the show include the last car that Elvis ever owned, a statue of Willie Mays making “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series, a food truck, two live rodeo bulls, and more.  At the beginning of each episode, the truckers bid on jobs, and the show follows them on their journeys from pickup to delivery.

There are several interesting elements to the show that keep it entertaining.  The truckers, of course, must “guesstimate” their expenses and consider the risks involved with each item when placing their bids.  Unexpected obstacles invariably come up, and they often have to improvise and incur additional expenses.  In some cases, they can offset their out-of-pocket costs by picking up extra cargo.

The show also keeps things interesting by following the truckers across the country, on hauls of all distances.  It takes on an “American Pickers” flavor as it travels America’s back roads, meeting all kinds of people and coming across all kinds of items.

If there’s any weak spot in the show, it’s the characters.  Many of their onscreen personas have obvious “Storage Wars” counterparts, and while it’s interesting to see how they solve the problems presented by the unpredictable nature of their job, the show would benefit from less trash-talking and more actual stories (only two jobs are followed in each episode).  Nonetheless, you find yourself rooting for them to drop off their cargo on time and in good condition.  You wince when they get pulled over or have a flat tire; you breathe a sigh of relief when a customer gives them good feedback and they turn a profit.

Will “Shipping Wars” last?  Will it stand out from all of its competitors?  Like the truckers it follows, it might not be perfect, but it gets the job done more often than not, and will likely have a good run for itself in a saturated market.

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