"Welcome to a show about things you can see..."
July 5, 2014 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Produced by Kansas City PBS affiliate KCPT, Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations is a TV series spotlighting "outsider artists, grassroots art environments and offbeat attractions of all kinds."

Starting with an old-fashioned theme song that introduces the protagonists and premise, each episode follows the adventures of two "TV weasels" and a camera guy (aka Randy Mason, Mike Murphy and Don Mayberger), plus their faithful companion, the World's Largest Ball of Videotape, as they pile into a cramped minivan and travel from "the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas to Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron in Baraboo, Wisconsin to Vollis Simpson’s Windmill Park in North Carolina (and countless places in between)."

With 80 half-hour episodes plus four hour-long specials produced between 1995 and 2009, RV & RR can still be seen on KCPT and various other PBS affiliates across the country, though you'll have to check your local program guide, as there doesn't seem to be a complete list of stations running the show anywhere online.

KCPT does have nine full episodes posted online, and if you decide you're hooked, you can purchase DVD collections of assorted episodes. There also are two companion books, and you can get a look inside the first one via Google Books.

Since the show ended production five years ago, there's not much of a presence in social media, though there is a blog with some day-to-day details of trips between 2006 and 2009, and a seemingly abandoned Facebook page.

And although RV & RR's episodic nature would seem perfectly suited to extracting and posting segments on YouTube and elsewhere, there are frustratingly few clips available, most seemingly posted by their subjects. Nevertheless, what's out there at least conveys some of the show's flavor and range:

Mike Brewer (of Brewer & Shipley fame) and his sister Charla Brown discuss dead-toad art and sing "My Dead Toad."
Folk artist Purvis Young
Chainsaw artist Gino Salerno
Charles "Spitball Charlie" Darling performs trick pool shots
The "whimsical rubbish" of Ben Hawkins
Dan Hermann, aka the Bucketman
San Francisco collector and urban archaeologist Ron Hengger
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner (6 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
The closest roadside attraction to where I grew up is Shangri-La in Prospect Hill, NC. Glad to see they made it out there in episode 703.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:31 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I didn't know that show was KCPT-specific, but it explains why I've seen almost every episode.

I've lived in or around Kansas City off and on for the past decade and I've never had cable. This is one of my favourite shows ever.
posted by annathea at 1:30 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is cool! Thanks!
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 2:04 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to add that while the earlier episodes are set mostly in the Midwest, in later seasons they make some trips that take them pretty far away from KC.

(Other amusing indicators of the passage of time include Mike's early mobile phone, one of those large brick-like objects, which at one point becomes the subject of a multi-episode riff about him calling his Mom from the road; and the condition of their minivan, which becomes increasingly decrepit throughout the first several seasons before finally dying and being replaced by another slightly newer, less decrepit minivan.)
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:24 PM on July 5, 2014

My former wife and I used to watch this show a lot. What amazed us was how unintentionally similar the folk art around the country is. The styles, the shapes, the figures, the faces -- from town to town, state to state. After a while, the shows began to run together because so much of it looked alike. This isn't to deprecate any of the artists; we were just surprised by the artistic similarities.

Except for the Garden of Eden. There is, I hope, nothing else like it.
posted by bryon at 9:48 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is the best low budget show I've EVER seen!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:09 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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