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‘Shipping Wars’ Review: Nail-Biter Worth the Ride – San Francisco Chronicle

Shipping Wars: 9 p.m. Tuesday on A&E.
If television has to become overpopulated with reality shows, at least make them all as watchable as “Shipping Wars,” premiering Tuesday on A&E.
If someone had told you two years ago that they wanted to make a reality show about people who run around the country bidding on the contents of storage lockers, you might have thought they’d lost their marbles. But A&E liked that idea, and “Storage Wars” has been successful for the cable outlet, so they’ve followed up with a show about independent shippers who bid against each other to haul all kinds of stuff from one part of the country to another.
The action in the half-hour show begins during the bidding phase, as “rookies” such as Jarrett Joyce of Winston-Salem, N.C., bid against veteran truckers such as New Hampshire’s Roy Garber as jobs are posted by an outfit in Austin, Texas.
Garber knows a thing or three about shipping, and he knows that if there’s one thing you can count on rookies to do, it’s to underbid on a job and not only spoil it for other truckers but also make it impossible for themselves to make any money by hauling things like Audrey, the carnivorous plant from “Little Shop of Horrors,” to San Diego on a deadline.
When Joyce starts low-balling the bid on the huge and oddly shaped stage prop, some of the other bidders, such as Jennifer Brennan of Austin and Marc Springer of Seattle, back away from the action. But Garber doesn’t: Instead, he decides to teach Joyce a tough lesson by low-balling to a completely impossible level, all the while hoping the contractor won’t accept the bid before Joyce goes even lower.
As we follow Joyce’s nail-biting trek across country, he tries to figure out how to pick up extra loads to offset his expenses and how to avoid the cops, because his trailer doesn’t have plates.
Meanwhile, Garber takes a job moving a huge horse, crafted from automobile bumpers, from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in New York City to a new site in Florida. In this case, his big challenge is how to get the sculpture onto his truck and then through the Holland Tunnel without decapitating the horse.
The 10-episode series may not win any major awards, but it’s well made and fun to watch. In the best of all possible TV worlds, the medium would be packed with scripted fare such as “Homeland” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” But that’s never going to happen. If there has to be reality TV, it may as well be something legitimately entertaining like “Shipping Wars,” as opposed to, say, “Kim and Khloe Take Ipecac.”
E-mail David Wiegand at [email protected].
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