Trash TV

In pawnshops and junkyards, a hard-up country hunts for its past

History Channel

They arrive with guns. They arrive with toys. They arrive with comic books, whiskey bottles and bayonets. They arrive--the guests on History Channel's Pawn Stars--at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, looking for a hearing, a story and a number.

The various pilgrims of Pawn Stars, hauling in their curios for assessment in the hope of hitting a different kind of Vegas jackpot, have brought History big numbers as well. One night in July, a special episode netted 7.6 million viewers, a stunning number for basic cable in summer. (By way of comparison, a new episode of NBC's...

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