Odd Squad

“Oddities” is a show that I should like. It is about the staff and customers at Obscura, a shop in lower Manhattan that specializes in bizarre antiquities. They sell gallstones, taxidermy, outdated medical tools and the like. The so-called reality show seems rehearsed and not very real.

One at a time, the episodes are tolerable. Unfortunately, my kids and I watched five episodes in a row and grew frustrated with the repetitive format and “regular” customers. A typical episode features someone bringing in an oddity, hoping to sell it to the shop. The staff asks how much they want for the item and the person quotes a price that is too high. The staff makes a counteroffer which is usually accepted, occasionally rejected. The process is reversed when someone wants to buy an item. They try to strike a bargain, sometimes bartering a performance of their sideshow act.

The staff at Obscura is likable and knowledgeable. I find it a bit implausible that Mike Zohn always knows more about the stuff people are trying to sell than the people themselves. The clientele seem to have been recruited from a meeting of Overactors Anonymous. One character claims to be a playwright looking for a straitjacket. His put-on voice sounds like a cross between Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. Another character is supposedly a former embalmer turned fashion model turned designer who wants to buy a mortician’s table. One more believable client deserved better. She is an artist selling tiny sculptures made from nail clippings.

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