The business of restoring a wide range of diverse antiquities or classic vintage objects found in the United States became the focus of the reality-television show called “American Restoration”, hosted by Rick Dale. It attracted millions of viewers to the History Channel, and was recognized as one of its most successful TV series after it premiered in 2010. After six seasons, TV executives abruptly canceled it, without offering any official explanation. A year and four months later, the cable network greenlighted a reboot, but without its original main cast. This caused some controversy, as Rick protested the move, and released a video encouraging fans to send their complaints to History Channel. The rebooted show reportedly failed in replicating the success of the original show, and another season was never released.
- 1 The original “American Restoration” (2010)
- 2 Six seasons of the “American Restorations”
- 3 Why was “American Restoration” canceled in 2014?
- 4 Was American Restoration canceled or was Rick Dale fired?
- 5 American Restoration: Rebooted and Canceled once again
The original “American Restoration” (2010)
When American television added another genre, reality-TV, it took on many forms over the years. The traditionalists didn’t like the use of reenactments, and so the TV producers created another way of presenting its content – chronicling the daily activities of differing businesses, highlighting their expertise by having a TV crew follow their every move, introduced a new era.
Background on how it started
The TV series “American Restoration” was a spin-off series inspired by one of History Channel’s biggest hits, “Pawn Stars.” Rick Dale, the owner of Rick’s Restorations, was often invited by “Pawn Stars” as one of their expert consultants on certain vintage collectibles. He became such a fan favorite that he was given his own TV series. At first, he wasn’t that keen on having a reality show, not because he was shy or private, but he just couldn’t envision presenting many episodes of restorations.
The whole thing overwhelmed him, but he eventually got the hang of it and completed filming a season. The first episode was aired on 6 June 2012.
Meet the “American Restoration” cast
Most of the people who worked at the front office in Rick’s Restorations were his family members, including the pickers, brother Ron and stepson Brettly; the office personnel daughter Ally and niece Michelle; shop’s foreman son Tyler; and the head of business operations his wife Kelly. On the creative side, Rick hired a team of specialists such as assembler and fabricator Kyle Astorga, lettering artist Ted Hague, and master woodworker and metal polisher Kevin “Kowboy” Lowery. If the job was too complicated for them or if they were pressed for time, he would obtain the services of other experts to help them finish a restoration project.
Filming Locations and new shop
To maintain authenticity, the TV crew filmed at Rick’s home, where his team regularly did their restorations, although encountering difficulties since his house wasn’t built as a studio. Filming a TV show would entail everything being documented with clear audio, and oftentimes they needed to repeat certain actions because the conversation wasn’t audible during playback. These moments interrupted their work, and became a hindrance for them to finish projects on time. It also didn’t help that when the TV show became popular, fans started to intrude on his privacy by going to his property and knocking at the door, even at night. Some even jumped over the fence just to see them; describing it as chaotic was an understatement.
Inevitably Rick Restorations opened another workshop in a commercial area, designed to accommodate the TV production crew.
There were fewer disruptions to their daily activities, and filming went smoothly. Their home was never invaded again by overzealous fans, as word spread that they weren’t filming there anymore.
Six seasons of the “American Restorations”
The show always opened with Rick’s voice telling the viewers how it was, back in the day when people took pride in doing things by hand. He also said that most vintage creations didn’t come with a manual, but that his crew never backed down from any challenge. Here are some of the most interesting moments in the six-year journey of “American Restorations.”
Debut episode with History Channel’s top reality-TV stars
Since “American Restoration” was a spin-off series created from “Pawn Stars,” it was only right that its popular stars were included in its debut episode. Rick Harrison along with Austin “Chumlee” Russell came to Rick’s Restorations, and brought a rusty, dilapidated three-wheeled 1950’s Marketeer golf cart to be restored for his father, Richard “Old Man” Harrison.
The golf cart was top of the line that only the rich got to use it back in the day. They negotiated a deal, and ended up with a $6000 restoration fee. Rick was absolutely thrilled that he was given the job, and was determined to restore it to perfection; he didn’t want to disappoint the Harrisons since they were loyal clients. When it was finished, they came to get it and the “Old Man” was delighted with the gift.
Crossover episode with stars from “American Pickers,” “Counting Cars,” and “Pawn Stars”
According to Rick’s Restorations’ official online site, episode 14 of the second season entitled “The Pick, The Pawn & The Polish,” garnered around 6.5 million viewers. It was a crossover episode in which other reality-TV celebrities appeared, such as Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz from “American Pickers”; Danny Kroker from “Counting Cars”; and the Harrisons along with Chumlee Russell from “Pawn Stars.”
These main stars descended on Rick’s shop one morning for a restoration project. All fans were ecstatic to see their favorite stars in one episode, and it gave History Channel its highest viewership rating ever at that time.
It started when “Pawn Stars” ordered a 1957 Chevrolet 150 from “American Pickers” – Rick H. went to Rick D. to have it restored as a gift for the “Old Man’s” 70th birthday. They negotiated a restoration deal for $70,000, and to have it done in three months. Rick D. wanted to say no, fearing that he didn’t have the time to finish it on schedule, but didn’t have the heart to tell it to Rick H.’s face. To deliver the finished product on time, Rick D. asked for help from “Counting Stars”, and the auto restoration specialist, Danny obliged, so they were able to divide the work between them. Some of the processes weren’t shown in “American Restoration” as the TV producers divided the footage to accommodate all three reality-TV series.
Mike and Wolfe delivered the Chevy, but before they left Rick’s Restorations, they sold a vintage coffee shop neon sign to Rick. They picked it from a barnyard – the former owner claimed that it was from a coffee shop that John Wayne had frequented.
A rock star restoration for Billy Joel
During the fourth season, iconic rock star, Billy Joel visited Rick’s Restorations to have his old motorcycle restored. Rick was visibly anxious, as he didn’t want to disappoint the quintessential American rock ‘n’ roll legend, claiming that he grew up listening to Billy’s music, and had fun in his sell-out concerts. He said that he really pulled his hair out thinking of all the mistakes he could possibly make in the restoration process. During Billy’s visit, Rick gave him a tour of his boneyard and they came across an old messed up Steinway piano. Billy played on it to the delight of his number one fan, but afterwards told Rick that it needed a lot of work.
Rick didn’t care and happily replied that to his ears it sounded pretty darn good, to which the singer said that he needed to go out more.
Why was “American Restoration” canceled in 2014?
In the world of television, no TV show or star is indispensable. Even those with record-breaking ratings would get axed because the entertainment world may be coated with glitz and glamour, but people shouldn’t forget that it’s still a business enterprise. When the 13th episode of the sixth season was aired on 3 September 2014, both the fans and the stars didn’t have any inkling that it was the last episode of the show. Several theories were thrown on social media as fans discussed what went wrong with the series, so that History Channel decided to end it.
Rick was getting difficult to work with
When there was no official explanation as to why a TV show was canceled, people would try to dig deeper and create their own speculations.
Rumors went around that the main star of the show gained an attitude, made unreasonable demands, or was difficult to work with after a successful run. Allegedly, there were times when Rick butted heads with the producers and TV crew as they didn’t see eye-to-eye on how to go with an episode; sources claimed that filming became awkward and the working environment tense, so that everyone just wanted to be done with it as quickly as possible. However, since the producers didn’t to address the issue, no one can confirm if there was truth to any of these allegations.
Sub-standard quality restoration work
Reports of dissatisfied clients with accusations of sub-standard and shabby work surfaced online; viewers saw that there was a decline in quality control in their work. There were comments left by fans online that chipped paint could be seen on some of the restored items, and there were parts on some types of machinery that weren’t properly installed.
Most of the viewers thought that some of the projects that Rick’s crew accepted were way beyond their skills, and it showed in their work. Sometimes, they seemed not to care, and didn’t handle their work seriously.
There was a serious complaint that was discussed in online forums, about Rick’s work on a vintage jukebox that a certain Angel Delgadillo owned. Mr. Delgadillo was said to have been featured on the TV show and asked Rick if he could restore it to its former glory. Rick agreed, and they settled with a $4000 restoration service fee. When it was returned to the client, on the surface it was cleaned, polished, and looked brand new, but the alleged problem was that it wasn’t repaired. He tried to call Rick many times as he had already paid in full, but couldn’t reach him. It was only when the complaint went viral on social media that Rick’s Restorations took care of it. Eventually, the vintage jukebox was repaired without any other incident. Unfortunately, Rick acted too late, and it had a lasting negative impact on his reputation.
LIKE if you're watching the American Restoration marathon right now on HISTORY.
The filming location/shop tour was overpriced and disappointing
Just like other successful reality-TV series, the next thing that was offered to the fans was a tour of the filming location, which was at Rick’s restoration shop. Many fans were eager to spend money just to see how they filmed the show, what the shop looked like, and buy some souvenir items from “American Restorations.” Unfortunately, whoever organized it didn’t carefully plan the whole thing, so most of the fans who paid for the tour went home quite disappointed, saying that it wasn’t what they expected, and that fees were overpriced. They wrote on their reviews that everything went in a blur, because they weren’t given enough time to browse at the shop, they were never given an opportunity to meet Rick or any other stars of the show, and it was obvious that the tour wasn’t fan-friendly. It wasn’t clear if the TV production company or History Channel had anything to do with the tour, however, there were rumors that the complaints reached the ears of the TV executives, who had an exchange of words with Rick Dale.
The decline of its TV ratings
It was said that while the show didn’t enjoy its former high TV ratings, it wasn’t that bad to constitute a cancelation. Sure, there was a decline in numbers, but not to the point that they should immediately pull the plug. However, some insiders said that when a TV show was canceled, the most obvious reason was low TV ratings. If that was the case, the TV networks wanted a better viewership outcome, and believed that the numbers Rick and his crew were pulling weren’t worth the production cost anymore.
Was American Restoration canceled or was Rick Dale fired?
A year and a half after the last episode was aired in 2014, a reboot of “American Restoration” was announced. To the shock of their fans, Rick and his crew were no longer a part of the new season, as the reboot of the TV series featured five new restoration shops. Rick was blindsided, shocked and angry about the whole thing. He uploaded a video of himself telling everyone how he felt about the reboot, and encouraged fans to express what they feel about it too, by leaving comments on the official site of the TV show. He said that it was important that the public knew what they all feel about it.
Apparently, they all thought that the show was canceled, but since a reboot was filmed without them, it only meant one thing – that Rick and his crew were fired by the TV network, although perhaps a more apt description was that they were replaced. There were reports that the Leftfield Pictures production company which produced the TV show for History Channel couldn’t reach a deal with Rick Dale, as the latter was allegedly hell-bent on getting a new contract with a huge increase in appearance fees. When they couldn’t agree on terms to start a new season, the production company was said to pitch a solution to the TV executives, and that was to get a new cast, which was approved by the cable network.
The uploading of the video was ill-advised, as it didn’t do him any good, as with what happened to the Change.org petition that was supposedly initiated by their loyal fans. It didn’t even garner 20 signatories, which should have sent an obvious message to Rick and his crew. Clearly, no one was interested in them anymore.
American Restoration: Rebooted and Canceled once again
The seventh season was aired on New Year’s Day in 2016, and introduced new restoration experts from different parts of the country, such as Andy Bowman Jr. from Detroit, Michigan; Steve Hale from Frankfurt, New York; Bob Halliday from Marietta, Georgia; Bodie Stroud from Sun Valley, California; and Dale Walksler from Maggie Valley, North California.
Fans discussed the new season and inevitably compared it with the original cast. Most of them thought it was interesting at first, and that it was just as when the original cast was starting. There were no made-up storylines which were refreshing, however, the ratings didn’t pick up the way the producers thought they would, and some fans blamed it on the multiple shops involved in the show, as they had no common person to root for.
The new season was comprised of 13 episodes, and aired its final episode in April 2016. There were talks about History Channel ordering another season, but nothing happened. There was no official explanation either as to why it was canceled again.