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[Editors Note: Discovery Channel sent us an advanced copy of their show "Chrome Underground" which premieres tonight to review. We happily obliged.]
The reality television “car hunting” shows have become somewhat formulaic. You have the charismatic buyer, a reluctant seller, the barter/deal, some sort of setback, then when things just can’t get any worse they seem to strike gold and come out on top. And that is exactly what happens here too, except it’s a bit more extreme.
Chrome Underground is much like any other car-flipping based reality show, but where other stars do their deals solo, Yusuf Johnson and Antonio Brunet have their own Mercenary. Yes, the boys on Chrome Underground do things a bit differently. Yusuf and Antonio are the owners of Motoreum, an Austin, Texas based Classic Car dealership who utilize connections in sketchy locations to scoop up rare and valuable cars to buy and re-sell for a profit.
How sketchy are these locales? Well, in the first ten minutes of the episode, they are robbed of $30,000 in Mexico City. Perhaps one could argue that carrying $30k in cash while being led by someone you have never met in Mexico City is extremely stupid, but the guys on Chrome Underground claim that it’s all part of the game. The robbery also serves as a plot point to introduce Andrew McLaren, their own personal Mercenary who protects them during future deals and provides security for vehicle transportation.
Andrew is pretty over the top, yet as a Former Marine Sergeant who seems to enjoy the Mercenary lifestyle, he comes off as sort-of believable. He uses his knowledge to help the guys go undercover while transporting two Porsche 356s they purchased in Mexico City, which is good because they always seem to come across danger at the worst times possible.
As for the buyers, Antonio plays the confident, street smart role and is fluent in Spanish which proves invaluable during the first episode. Yusuf on the other hand, seems to be constantly uncomfortable whenever danger presents itself which is a bad thing, because danger seems to be a constant.
This show is not going to cure cancer. Aside from the quick background sidetracks on cars the boys are about to purchase, this show is not terribly educational. So what is it then? This show is for people who are interested in cars and drama (whether manufactured or not) and want to shut their brain off after a long day at work with a bowl of popcorn. At its core, Chrome Underground is a fun ride which will keep you glued to the television and appreciate the fact that you do not live in favela for an hour each week. And we don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing.