Lisa Whelchel on the Pop Culture Treasures of ‘Collector’s Call’ Season 3
One person’s tchotchke is another’s treasure. And if that prize also happens to be a piece of pop culture history? You might as well bring a true TV icon in to be wowed by its worth!
“I really loved this idea,” says Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel, host of Collector’s Call, MeTV’s nod to fan-accrued memorabilia, which returns for Season 3 with even more finds. “I’d just become a life coach [when the network pitched the show], so I was deep into exploring what gives us passion and purpose. And one thing collectors have is passion and purpose!”
In each episode, Whelchel meets ordinary folks who have gone way beyond a poster or action figure when it comes to their biggest obsession. Think: re-created Star Trek quarters, a Doctor Who TARDIS console, antique cars from Hollywood’s yesteryear or a wealth of sports paraphernalia. “There are some who have built entire [displays] from floor to ceiling,” marvels Whelchel of these ultimate fans and their extraordinary troves. “Their collections have taken over the entire house.”
After a tour of these museums of memorabilia and word of the often touching tales behind them, a local expert or historian is brought in to appraise the cash value. Then it’s time to make a deal to see if the owners will part with one piece in exchange for an elusive item they’ve long been coveting.
Sometimes there’s a twist to up the ante. Last season, Brady Bunch alum Barry Williams enticed a radio DJ to trade a pricey guitar for his sitcom character’s Johnny Bravo rock-star costume (which still fit!). We’ll see more famous faces in Season 3, with 23 new episodes—some filmed in person and some remotely—shot during COVID. “The producers try to arrange a special video greeting from someone connected to a collection,” Whelchel explains, adding that past episodes have featured taped hellos from the likes of Dolly Parton and Mario Andretti.
The pandemic also provided an unexpected upside in the form of remote meetups. “While it was a bummer because we weren’t able to touch and feel the collections, we were able to film an amazing Harry Potter [compendium] in Great Britain,” says Whelchel, who also made virtual trips to view goods in Australia and Canada in Season 2.
Just don’t expect to see a Lisa-centric episode anytime soon. “I’m one of those weirdos that likes to move because it gives me a chance to get rid of everything,” she says. Besides, she might be busy giving collectors a new reason to clear some room on their shelves: Due to the success of ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience tribute to The Facts of Life in December, interest in a reboot is rising. “The cogs are moving on that, even as we speak,” Whelchel hints. Sounds like some signed scripts would make a great addition to someone’s trove!
Vintage Finds: A Few Highlights From the New Season
Lost in Space: Series stars Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen send video greetings to two fans, including an Ohio man who’s turned his basement into “the Jupiter 2 flight deck with a talking, full-size B-9 robot,” says Whelchel.
Rocking All Night: A Pennsylvania music fan gets a message from KISS singer Gene Simmons.
Collector’s Call, Season 3 Premiere, Sunday, March 27, 6:30/5:30c, MeTV