From Dave Brigham:
I spent a lot of time over the summer watching the Food Network. I can't cook much, but I love to watch other people who do it well. I got really into "Chopped," "The Great Food Truck Race" and "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
But I got a bit burned out on that stuff, so I was really happy when I saw a preview for National Geographic Channel's new reality series, "Abandoned."
To date I've watched three episodes, and have a few more waiting for me on my DVR. In the show, carpenter/antique collector/restoration expert Jay Chaikin, along with his buddies Dan and Mark, get permission to enter abandoned buildings looking to salvage antiques, collectibles and furniture.
They walk very carefully through old mills, churches, breweries, factories and banks, marveling at the architecture and the relics they find. Chaikin is an amiable host, and his friend Mark provides some comic relief.
I'm not an urbex guy -- I don't think getting arrested for trespassing would go over well with my wife, and it would be hard to pick up my kids at school if I were in jail. So I live vicariously through people who are bold enough to enter dilapidated buildings to see what's been left behind, and to behold the beauty of decay.
As I said, in "Abandoned," the hosts receive permission from property owners to enter the buildings. After they pick through the stuff, they haggle with the owners over items they want to restore and resell. Yes, the show is similar to History Channel's "American Pickers," but there's nothing wrong with that.
In some cases, the buildings are facing demolition; in other situations, they don't indicate what the fates are.
So if you find yourself looking to fill an hour to learn about endangered historic sites, urban exploration and antique collecting and restoration, check it out.
I also watch Travel Channel's "Off Limits," which used to focus more on old factories and abandoned mines. This season the host, Don Wildman, has changed the focus a bit to places like operational salt mines and Air Force base rocket launches, but it's still a cool show. I wrote a bit about the show in May 2011.