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Is this intended to be a real competition, or just entertainment? It doesn't seem quire right for the panel of "wizards" to choose which of them will battle the contestants after the objects have been chosen, then decide who "won".

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Is this intended to be a real competition, or just entertainment? It doesn't seem quire right for the panel of "wizards" to choose which of them will battle the contestants after the objects have been chosen, then decide who "won".

I agree. First off, what makes one a "wizard" (other than the fact that one of them is a producer on the show)? What qualifies one to be a judge? WHAT THE HECK IS A MAGIC CRITIC?!

 

And yeah I don't think that the wizards should be able to choose which will go against the contestants. Things should be an even playing field so if these guys are "wizards" because they're like, 10x more awesome than the contestants (which they clearly weren't last night), then the contestants should either be able to pick the wizards according to their specialty or whatever OR the judges should pick them based on whatever criteria they are judging them on.

 

Not really loving this format. I think they could've done something more interesting with it. Was slightly let down.

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Is this intended to be a real competition, or just entertainment? It doesn't seem quire right for the panel of "wizards" to choose which of them will battle the contestants after the objects have been chosen, then decide who "won".

I you misinterpreted the details of this (although it IS confusing and could use tweaking). The Wizards are different people from the Judges, even though all of them are magicians (even the person they called a Critic is a practicing Magician according to her bio). It's two sets of four people--four judges, four Wizards, plus a Host--so the payroll for this show is pretty steep.

The judges are Penn, Teller, that "critic" Christen Gerhart, and that World Champion of Magic guy Jason Latimer. All they do is judge--they are never in contention to battle the challengers. They may do magic demos, like we saw Teller do, but it's not part of the competition. They were the four people we saw in the comfy seats in the middle of the room.

The Wizards are four different people from the judges (Justin Flom, the producer, and those other three who were sitting against the wall). They do indeed pick which of them battle the contenders, but they do NOT decide who won--that's the judges job.

It's main problem (besides payroll) is actually how "busy" it all in. The streamlining might have been to let the audience decide the winner and cut the number of "resident" magic people down. Ditch this unnecessary host, this Ellen person, have Penn himself Host and Teller linger around for comedy and non-competing magic demos, get rid ofthe World Champion of Magic dude and the critic totally, keep the four Wizards, but have the audience act as the judges (which works as long as Penn & Teller aren't actually competing, since they'd win any and all audience votes).

Edited by Kromm
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The Wizards are four different people from the judges (Justin Flom, the producer, and those other three who were sitting against the wall). They do indeed pick which of them battle the contenders, but they do NOT decide who won--that's the judges job.

The differentiation still seems like a technicality to me, although I'll let it pass since it's pretty minor compared to the way the pick is done. It's bad enough to do it after seeing the contestants in action, no way after the challenge is revealed. They should probably randomize the performance order too.

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The differentiation still seems like a technicality to me, although I'll let it pass since it's pretty minor compared to the way the pick is done. It's bad enough to do it after seeing the contestants in action, no way after the challenge is revealed. They should probably randomize the performance order too.

 

I'm not sure I'm following what you think they're doing that's bad. I thought it was: 2 challengers compete->judges pick a winner->wizards pick 2 of themselves to go against the challengers that won->challengers and selected wizards compete->judges determine the winner. Is it the wizards choosing 2 of their group that is the issue?

 

Given that there's actual money going to the challengers if they win, I think it's fair the wizards get to choose who goes against the challengers or else you'd get some episodes with items the wizards had no idea what to do with. This way the challengers really need to be good and not luck their way into an easy win.

 

But I agree with Kromm that the whole thing is very "busy" and needs to be smoothed out somehow.

 

As for the episode itself, I thought the challengers should have won.  I thought the Wizards screwed up something pretty big. After the dummy was shot and they were talking about showing they knew where the dummy would be shot, the one guy sat behind the chalkboard for about a minute obviously doing something. It sort of felt like a beginner magician turning his back to you to look for the right card in the deck and then going "Aha!" when he turns around with it.

Edited by Nellise
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I'm not sure I'm following what you think they're doing that's bad. I thought it was: 2 challengers compete->judges pick a winner->wizards pick 2 of themselves to go against the challengers that won->challengers and selected wizards compete->judges determine the winner. Is it the wizards choosing 2 of their group that is the issue?

Yeah, this is where we appear to be miscommunicating.  I don't get at all how we go from a statement how it's unfair for the Wizards to choose the winner to talking about how a separate panel of judges choose the winner and conclude it's a "technicality".  How so?  They're separate people, and presumably not beholden to each other's opinions.  

 

The wizards choosing their representatives seems like a minor thing to me.  Sure, they are professionals, but it seems to me the point of any game show, if we regard this as that, is for the challenger to face a challenge and not equal odds.  So having the challenge be weighed against them somewhat makes sense. Also, because this is on TV, it should be noted that challengers ALWAYS have an inherent advantage in that audiences, and even judging panels, will want to support an underdog, and also a good "storyline" over any kind of pure analysis of skill.  So the advantage of the professional Wizards is countered quite a bit by the realities of TV and the psychology of judging people on game shows/reality TV.

Actually even the way we are referring to the challengers as if they WEREN'T professionals seems to be wrong.  Look up all four challengers we saw on the Internet. They are all professional magicians--every last one of them.

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I enjoyed the first episode, but I thought the challengers won, they were better.  I do agree it needs some clarity and trimming, but that said I am already looking forward to the next episode. My favorite bit was when Penn & Teller de-bunked the mint box scam. 

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I've got no issues with the show setup; it seems fair enough.

 

The only thing I would really cut would be the scenes in the Magician's Workshop. They may think they are giving us some 'insight' on how the tricks work, but no magician is going to give anything away in those scenes regardless, so they're just needless filler. Cut to commercial after the item reveal if you want to give the illusion that no one knows what's coming, and let their acts go longer maybe.  Or just have P&T do another act. (How many more eps before they do the Saw Georgie in Half skit? :) )

 

The other improvement I'd make is to cut the camera cuts. AGT is horrible for this; but this show isn't much better (nor Fool Us for that matter). Directors don't seem to realize that for a trick to work well, we need to see it continuously from start to finish; preferably with all the actors in view. Save the cuts and shifts for after the big flourish. 

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One issue with a show where you need to beat the "expert" at the end to win anything is that it really goes against the grain of that portion of the audience that likes to root for the underdog. Pawnography has this same issue, but they have an out. Before the result is revealed. the contestant can negotiate their own consolation prize, depending on how well they think they did.

Edited by Latverian Diplomat

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I still don't understand how the Wizards were chosen to be the Wizards. I was definitely shocked that Murray was one of the contestants since he's been in the semifinals of America's Got Talent and he was even a mentor on Celebracadabra. And some of these contestants have won just as many awards as the Wizards.

 

I wish it was just simply Magician vs. Magician--that's how I thought the show was going to be: either the same group of contestants a la Face Off or a new magician battle every week. The Wizard concept just needlessly complicates things and you end up seeing a variation of the same trick over and over again (which was very noticeable this week).

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I'm writing this after Episode 1, and will come back after the second.

The differentiation still seems like a technicality to me, although I'll let it pass since it's pretty minor compared to the way the pick is done. It's bad enough to do it after seeing the contestants in action, no way after the challenge is revealed. They should probably randomize the performance order too.

I don't think it's necessarily unfair, but I do agree it's a big advantage for the "Wizards". If they have a close-up artist, a slight-of-hand expert, a mentalist, and an escape artist, it's easy enough to say "oh, there's a mannequin - close up guy does that.  And the mentalist can do something with chalkboards."  That way none of the Wizards ever has to play outside their strength like the contestants do. Big advantage.

 

But it should be hard, so I'm OK with that.  Plus the Wizards will be back every week (right?) so the show wants to put them in the best light.

 

I agree with you guys on the format, and @Kromm's suggestions on how to fix it. I think the problem is that most of us, even those who would call themselves Magic fans, have no idea who these people are. If it was a singing competition then you get 4 Legends, 4 one-hit wonders as "the Wizards", and 4 amateur contestants.  Makes sense. But other than P&T you could have randomized any of the other 10 people and I wouldn't have known the difference.  And I don't mean that as an insult to any of them.  It's just that I'm not informed enough to know.

 

As for the specifics of Ep 1, I disagree with both judge decisions.  Disappearing a can and stuffing Spam in a Super Soaker is not in the spirit of the trick the way "pick a card of Spam" is. And yeah the burning card trick was impressive, but they didn't just invent that backstage. It's a prior act they crammed in without innovation.  So the other duo should have won. And then the same thing happened in the final where the more creative idea lost to "these are my standard tricks".   That might be a drawback of having professional judges - they're more likely to reward difficulty while we just want a show.

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Ep 2:

 

Really good performers. Every set felt like a complete act, not just a collection of tricks.  I do agree with the first judge pick, though I actually might have given the win to the Wizards in the end. (But I don't mind the end result either.)

 

Either that room needs better air conditioning or makeup needs to powder the performers better, because most of them are visibly sweating and that shouldn't happen.  Not that SyFy would ever do something amateurish, of course.  But they should really know better.

 

And I'm getting adjusted to the format. With more shows we'll know the judges and the Wizards better, so the contestants will be the ones we don't recognize.  Or they could simply the format, which also wouldn't be bad. But I imagine the Iron Chefs didn't stand out the first time either.

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Several things make this show less than entertaining for me. First, there is an obvious time-lag while the teams are developing their routine that we never get to see. It's unclear how long the show is for the live audience. I think that most likely both teams create the 2nd routine (the one where they compete against the wizards), although only the team winning the first stage will use it. Also, most of the routines are so ragged that one really does appreciate what goes into a smooth performance. I wish that instead of getting the same 3 or 4 props to use there was a larger pool of items from which the teams could alternate picks. Lastly, whose team had the winning performance is completely subjective, based on whether P&T liked it. I don't see the need to have a group of established wizards that the teams have to ultimately beat to win. It's only $10K, let's just have a competition where somebody wins every show.

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First, there is an obvious time-lag while the teams are developing their routine that we never get to see. It's unclear how long the show is for the live audience. I think that most likely both teams create the 2nd routine (the one where they compete against the wizards), although only the team winning the first stage will use it. 

Yes, the 2nd round is already prepped and ready, I think, since it's the same audience. We means it's sucks to be the losing challengers and work up tricks you don''t get to perform. It also means, of course, that the competing wizards are chosen well in advance, and all that deliberation stuff is fake. There is no snap decision based on the reveal of the items even. The wizards have plenty of pre-show time to figure that out.

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First, there is an obvious time-lag while the teams are developing their routine that we never get to see. It's unclear how long the show is for the live audience. I think that most likely both teams create the 2nd routine (the one where they compete against the wizards), although only the team winning the first stage will use it.

Yes, the 2nd round is already prepped and ready, I think, since it's the same audience. We means it's sucks to be the losing challengers and work up tricks you don''t get to perform. It also means, of course, that the competing wizards are chosen well in advance, and all that deliberation stuff is fake. There is no snap decision based on the reveal of the items even. The wizards have plenty of pre-show time to figure that out.

This is part of why reality TV, even relatively benign shows like this, is eternally MADDENING to me.

 

There is zero reason, zero at all, that they have to pretend that this is all happening that day.  There's zero reason they couldn't just say up front that both teams prepped, but only the "winner" gets to do the second trick.  There's no reason they need to try and pretend the choice of Wizards in on the fly, and in fact any viewer with an IQ over 60 probably realizes easily that they aren't having an audience wait around while they prep a trick, practice, build props, etc.  

 

But THEY DO IT ANYWAY.

 

Reality TV does stuff, pretends stuff, they don't HAVE to sometimes, for mysterious reasons that don't even make sense. Rather than reinforcing the sense of reality of the show, it actually makes it seem LESS real.

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It occurred to me that maybe the reason they didn't go with a simpler model is because Penn & Teller can't be locked down for a second season. (Especially if Fool Us gets picked up, which it seemingly will.) That would at least explain why they're using so many people - so no one is irreplaceable.

The maple syrup trick last night was really good. Even though I knew that's what they were building toward, it was still impressive. None of the other tricks were all that great, but I appreciate the skill involved even when I know the mechanics.

Edited by Amarsir

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Again we see an example of how arbitrary the dividing line between the contestants and the "Wizards" (not the judges, the Wizards) can be.  Billy Kidd is credibly debatable as being as well known a magician as Justin Flom, for example (not that I expect any random viewer, or even people in this thread to know her either--just look her up, I mean--she's had two seasons on a show that's aired all around the world).

Edited by Kromm

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My DVR crapped out the last 5 minutes. Who won the wizard war?

Challengers did.  The rocking chair made of paper was the trick that put them over the top.

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Unless you're talking about the other ep that just aired; with the final challenge being the trick with the Fridge, Kid's ridable car, and the horse's head. In that one, the Wizards won. The challengers clearly won the first round; watching it was pretty damn impressive. But their Wizard round act wasn't as good as the Wizards. One of the judges even commented that they had set such a high bar with their first act, that it would be hard to top it. 

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The fact that there were a bunch of Pepsi tricks makes it better.  It's clearly a combination of effects which cover for each other and make it even better.  The only thing I didn't like is that they were very clearly pre-set props with Justin acting like they weren't.  I don't believe one table had Pepsi when everyone else had water, and that it was served both in cans and glass bottles.  Not a big deal, but don't stretch my disbelief before you even get to the magic.

 

Very happy for those challengers who won.  Great stage presence and humor, with decent tricks.  Did anyone catch if they'd worked together before or this was their first meeting?

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So I didn't realize this, but apparently the show is done for now. They only did a run of six episodes.  However, SyFy considers it a success and picked up 6 more, starting in January.

 

Which gives them time to change the format a bit, if they want.  I wouldn't mind seeing some of the suggestions in this thread get put into practice.

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GREAT FIRST EPISODE. So happy that Billy is one of the Wizards now, her and Shimshi had a great chemistry. Great addition. I don't know how they did that teleportation hand trick!!

 

The competitors were also very good, although I was sad that they didn't do as well the second round (needed more Sean, it became all about the Greg). But I don't think there's ever been a standing ovation on this show before.

 

Too bad they didn't change anything about the format but oh well. I like the new Teach-A-Trick segment, though.

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I agree, the competitors were amazing in the first round and fell off a bit in the second.  I wanted them to win, but there just wasn't enough pizazz when they needed it.

 

When SyFy did a Wizard Wars marathon on Christmas Eve I put it on to show some relatives who hadn't seen it before. The combination of odd camera cuts, dishonest representation of prep time, and too-convenient audience selection made their skepticism very easy. So I found myself watching the magicians do an impressive slight-of-hand combination and viewers go "well that person's a plant, they signed another copy backstage".  It's a meta version of what Penn said with the ice on that last trick - they did it the hard way but the reveal made it look easy.

 

So I too wish they'd changed up the format a bit.  I think this structure reduces the potential audience to those willing to see the mechanics for what they are. But speaking as such a person, I did enjoy it.

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GREAT FIRST EPISODE. So happy that Billy is one of the Wizards now, her and Shimshi had a great chemistry. Great addition. 

Very happy too.  She was great on "Breaking Magic" so it was good to see her again (and she won last season on THIS show, didn't she?)

 

It's a shame that Mentalist girl seeming had to get the shaft for Billy to be on.  I mean I guess there must be a "one female Wizard" rule.  Meh.

 

Speaking of replacements... why is Ellen Fox still working on this show?  Meh.

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That was a good episode this week. Especially the second set, with both challengers and Wizards mixing good tricks with a cohesive theme. ("Magic Cafe" vs "weight loss drink".) That's always worth a lot of points with me when it's not just random tricks but a package.

 

I don't mind Ellen Fox's role so much. Yes, she could be replaced by Penn & Teller or any of the other judges. But having a host separate the "camps". The judges aren't the wizards aren't the hosts. She represents the production so we accept that it's a fair competition. By contrast look at something like The Apprentice. Trump is producer, host, judge, sponsor, and sometimes recruiter. Aside from the fact that he's ridiculous in his own right, he also blurs the lines so much that we pretty much expect he knows who's going to win before the show starts.  Wizard Wars, while a much lower-profile show, at least makes that separation.

Edited by Amarsir
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The Wizards are really showing why they are wizards so far this season, which is great. The competition was really close and so far, no one's been repeating the same trick over and over.

 

I'm not really enjoying these fake-out magic tutorials, though.

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"Here's how to do a trick, with a reveal that shows I'm actually better at it than what I'm telling you to do."  Yeah that's a delicate thing.

 

It is very Penn & Teller though.  Have you ever seen their "saw the woman in half" trick?  (First used on Letterman I think.)  They play it for humor and shock, but it's the same basic premise.  They'll show us why the trick is safe and then "Oh no!" The presentation helps a lot and it's certainly more showy than a palmed scarf but it's got that same "we're teaching you but not everything" vibe.

 

Speaking of whom, I did enjoy their card trick interlude.  My favorite was just the subtlety of it.  Penn going "somehow Teller knows that you cut 19 cards, I don't know how he does it" just amuses me.

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I wasn't as impressed by the challengers this week. The wizards were fine and brought it home, but neither pair was doing anything really that impressive.

 

Also way too much use of curtains for a single show.  It was not only noticeable by the quantity, but when they're obviously hiding something I start thinking about camera angles.  And for a show that explicitly says "It's important you know that we don't use camera tricks" there are a lot of convenient cuts.  Combine that with the implied dishonesty of the prep time and it really hurts the credibility.

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I don't mind Ellen Fox's role so much. Yes, she could be replaced by Penn & Teller or any of the other judges. But having a host separate the "camps". 

Her role is one thing.  But the weird alien way her jaw moves is damn distracting.

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It's a shame that Mentalist girl seeming had to get the shaft for Billy to be on.  I mean I guess there must be a "one female Wizard" rule.  Meh.

Probably. Like there's a "one female mentor on The Voice" rule. And a "one female shark on The Shark Tank" rule. And a "one female judge on Face Off" rule. It does get a little annoying.

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Really strong episode to come back from a week off.  Justin's fakeout premature ending is something they can't do a lot but it really worked there.

 

I noticed that the audience selection was considerably more random than in previous episodes.  Normally they just pick someone for speed.  This time there was the judge choice, the pillow toss, the popped bottlecap...  I wonder if that's just coincidence or if they got feedback that audiences think "plant" when the magician makes the choice?

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I would love to see the money go to challengers who are a tie to the Wizards! There have been many that I have seen that did great jobs but left empty handed, boo.

Edited by dznutz

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Probably. Like there's a "one female mentor on The Voice" rule. And a "one female shark on The Shark Tank" rule. And a "one female judge on Face Off" rule. It does get a little annoying.

To be fair, Shark Tank finally ditched that rule.  Unfortunately it came at the expense of the only black Shark.  So now they alternate Barbara and Damon being on rather than alternating Barbara and Lori (who seems to have been "promoted" so she's on every episode now, Barbara or no Barbara). 

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Personally I liked the domino prediction better than the pick vanish.  Even though on a second watch I was also able to see how it was done, and I only have vague suspicions about how they teleport objects, it still seemed more hands-off to me. 

 

I guess that's a difference between the magician judges and me as a non-performer.  They're giving extra points for difficulty whereas I don't know enough to do that.

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If I'm being honest, all of the stuff with the picks totally bored the hell out of me.  It was too small scale.  The audience could barely see what was going on, and those of us at home weren't any better off because of the camera placement/blocking.

 

Magic is visual.  That trick totally failed on that account.  

 

Also I get really annoyed with magicians who say stuff like "here's the crazy part" during their act (there was one last season who did it), and one of the guys on this latest team seems to also have that as part of his default patter.  We also got a "Whaaaaaat?" out of him later too.  I consider any magician who has to "coach" audience reactions in that manner to be a failure.

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I'm going to say "Flamingos and Fishing" (or as they officially called it, "Walking on Water") is probably the weakest show they've had. I wasn't overly impressed, and that was before the judges revealed how much editing helped them with dead air and errors.  Too bad, because the competitors seemed like good guys, but I guess something has to be weakest.

 

Seeing it in the credits again, I was reminded how much I really liked Shimshi's backflip trick last week. That's a creative idea to take a physical feat and turn it into a trick. (And a well-done trick at that.)

Edited by Amarsir

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This is just my theory and I don't know anything. But...

When Wizard Wars started, P&T weren't doing anything on tv at the time. The show did well and got picked up for a second season. During the period between seasons, CW decided to start making Fool Us episodes. And they did very well - on a bigger network with a bigger budget.  So my theory is that when Fool Us got a 3rd season the CW decided they didn't want P&T doing a competitor's show. (Because it causes confusion. I've seen people mistake one for the other.)

So if that theory is true, SyFy would probably like to do more. But the show's not popular enough to live without the biggest names, and they aren't going to do a small show that might mess up their deal with the big one.

Again though, that's purely my speculation. All we really know is that SyFy never publicly refused to do a 3rd season and they still list the show as if it's ongoing.

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