"Storage Wars" Season 2 kicks off with last season's underdogs, Jarrod and Brandi, nipping at the heels of the big dogs and showing a lot more bark than in Season 1. If you've just returned from an alien abduction, "Storage Wars" is the surprise hit series from A & E, that follows the adventures of 5 disparate personalities as they search through mountains of other peoples personal belongings in abandoned and auctioned off storage lockers.
Deliniated by the tags, The Gambler (Darrell Sheets), The Mogul (Dave Hester), The Young Guns (Jarrod Shulz, Brandi Passante) and The Collector (Barry Weiss), these reality characters have elevated the show beyond it's initial concept. I care just as much about these people as I do what's in the lockers. It's rare when a reality show can pull that off. And what's in the lockers is the equivalent of cream-filling in a Hostess cupcake no matter what's really inside.
Because the fun is watching the games and schemes these people play during the auction portion of the show. Dave was unmerciful in Season 1 in bidding up lockers he had no interest in and seemingly had enough cash to buy any locker at any time. So when Jarrod and Brandi come out swinging, in Season 2 episode 29 "Land of the Loss", you wonder how much bite they really have.
Barry Weiss is your eccentric uncle who lives in a house with really cool old stuff. Not enough to get on "Hoarders" but enough to wonder where he got it all. Now we know. Barry's penchant for strange clothing, unusual special guests (he's brought a midget and some guy who looked like an extra from "Snatch") and out of the box thinking make him perpetually watchable.
Darryl Sheets is a human fog horn and self-proclaimed big dog. Generally portrayed as a good ol' boy, Darryl's most annoying habit is telling everybody what a big guy he is, even though I don't see how that really helps much in this arena. Note to Darryl, if you have to tell people how big you are, you're not that big. Most of the women in my family could take you.
Full disclosure: I've met Dave Hester and my brother knows him. If we saw Dave Hester on the street, Dave would say "Hi Jr, hi Jr's brother." 20 years ago when I first met him, he was combing through the classified section of several Sunday newspapers to look for auctions and estate sales. He was known at the bar as "Auction Dave". So I can't accept Dave as purely the "bad guy" he got painted as in the first season. I know the man has worked hard for years to get what he has.
Jarrod and Brandi have expanded their shop after a successful Season 1 and come out young guns blazing in Season 2. Jarrod is on a mission to lockerblock Dave at every turn and it seems, at first, like he is beginning to get under The Mogul's skin. Despite warnings from Brandi (who is an adorable but tough female counter to all the testosterone on screen) that Jarrod is overpaying, he forges ahead. What could go wrong with that?
Season 2 has also introduced a new, somewhat sinister-looking, element in a buyer named Mark Belalo. Belalo is a terrible walking stereotype of every greasy, double dealer you've ever seen in movies. With his horrible Elvis shades, Mr. T bling and Tony Montana wardrobe, Belalo has come peacocking his way onto the screen flashing wads of cash and even aping Dave's signature "YEPPPPPP!" much to Mr. Hester's annoyance. Slight spoiler alert; when Belalo makes an outrageous claim with Hollywood-style hubris and bombast about a find he makes in a locker, the resulting reveal is priceless.
"Storage Wars" is weirdly compelling as I don't think you can help but wonder about the stuff, who's stuff it was, how could you abandon that stuff or why in the hell would you ever keep that stuff in the first place, much less under lock and key. A & E has a wonderful mix of personalities and a hook that seems to have sunk into the American viewing psyche. The anticipation of seeing if the bids were profitable or wildly overrated is palpable and the interplay between the principles is sometimes, sitcom worthy.
At 30 minutes an episode, "Storage Wars" is a perfect reality TV bite, a little flaky but tasty and not liable to keep you up all night.