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The Crazed Spruce

Season 4: Penn & Teller & Alyson &... A Chicken?

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5 minutes ago, Salzmank said:

@Charlesman

Yes, I can understand that, but was it the sixth or seventh episode that aired last night? We haven't seen the sixth ("Something Fishy This Way Comes"), which was supposed to air last night and has been moved to tonight, or the seventh ("A Big Round of Applause for Alyson").

D'oh! Right, looks like the thread title is wrong. Last night was definitely the fish episode.

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4 minutes ago, Charlesman said:

D'oh! Right, looks like the thread title is wrong. Last night was definitely the fish episode.

It also says it's Ep. 7, and that the magicians are Berdini, Markson, etc. Were those the magicians? I apologize; it's just that between the baseball-bumping and the lack of a thread for "Something Fishy...," I'm confused about what was/will be aired when.

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Wrong thread label. @The Crazed Spruce can change it.  Proper is:

S04:E06 Something Fish This Way Comes. 

Featuring Dan Sperry; Naathan Phan; Jean-Pierre Parent; Richard Forget. With the closer featuring Piff along with P&T.

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26 minutes ago, Amarsir said:

Wrong thread label. @The Crazed Spruce can change it.  Proper is:

S04:E06 Something Fish This Way Comes. 

Featuring Dan Sperry; Naathan Phan; Jean-Pierre Parent; Richard Forget. With the closer featuring Piff along with P&T.

OK, swell. In that case, it'll be on around here tonight.

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Just finished it. Great episode.

 

I hated Sperry's act so much--obvious, gross-out trick that only succeeded in annoying me--that I went into Parent's trick in a bad mood, just to be absolutely dumbfounded. I tend to dislike "big, illusion-y" tricks, especially in regards to this show, so this one--taking out most of the ways he could have done it--was a pure delight. To put it simply, Parent was excellent...

...as were the other two performers. Phan was a hoot--Glasgow, Vietnam!--and his trick involved, as he said, the magic of childhood wonder. Beautiful.

I thought Forget superb. I guessed parts of it, but who cares?--there was also a sense of childlike wonder, and pure joy.

Great to see Piff again on this show--the final routine was hilarious. I wish Sperry weren't in it, but this episode was otherwise brilliant.

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On 8/18/2017 at 3:25 PM, Salzmank said:

@Charlesman

Yes, I can understand that, but was it the sixth or seventh episode that aired last night? We haven't seen the sixth ("Something Fishy This Way Comes"), which was supposed to air last night and has been moved to tonight, or the seventh ("A Big Round of Applause for Alyson").

 

On 8/18/2017 at 3:31 PM, Charlesman said:

D'oh! Right, looks like the thread title is wrong. Last night was definitely the fish episode.

 

On 8/18/2017 at 3:58 PM, Amarsir said:

Wrong thread label. @The Crazed Spruce can change it.  Proper is:

S04:E06 Something Fish This Way Comes. 

Featuring Dan Sperry; Naathan Phan; Jean-Pierre Parent; Richard Forget. With the closer featuring Piff along with P&T.

 

On 8/18/2017 at 4:24 PM, Salzmank said:

OK, swell. In that case, it'll be on around here tonight.

Whoops! Sorry about that. Guess I clicked on the wrong date on the TV guide I get my episode info from. I've fixed the first post, and now I'm gonna go berate myself thoroughly.

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On 8/18/2017 at 9:54 PM, Salzmank said:

I hated Sperry's act so much--obvious, gross-out trick that only succeeded in annoying me

I think my enjoyment of that trick depends entirely on how much Alyson was acting. If she knew in advance there would be grossout humor and was playing it up for drama (as she did with Parent), it's fine. His character was really just a twist on the "weirdo" school of presentations, just a bit down the road from Criss Angel. On the other hand, if she was legit bothered by that and only went through with it because of the stage pressure, well then I'm annoyed on her behalf.

I could see it either way. Not many of us want to push a coin into someone's eye socket. But someone who starred in American Pie probably isn't all that delicate either.

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I can't comment on Berdini's hotness, but I have mixed opinion on his trick. The effect also works in a "subject forgets how to read" version and I think I like it better making them forget the word. However, I feel like playing a song wasn't enough of a performance for me. Give me some plausibility that you actually made her forget.

Yan Markson's use of a fake app to try two tricks together was fun, even if neither was all that new on its own. It let him turn himself from the expert into a neophyte instruction-follower, which gave him some amusing acting to do. 

Ondrej Psenicka impressed me if only because he had so little time with the cards. There was one thing I noticed, but Penn could easily have ruined that for him on the shuffle so I'm skeptical that he was reliant on it. I also enjoyed him running out to Pen''s chair and enjoying Alyson from the audience. In fact more than most he was clearly just enjoying himself being there.

What I like about Glenn Morphew is that we all knew what was going to happen (to the extent that we knew which card was going to disappear) so we could watch for the exact palming and still not see it. It's a mechanical trick, but a good mechanic.

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Ondrej Psenicka impressed me if only because he had so little time with the cards. There was one thing I noticed, but Penn could easily have ruined that for him on the shuffle so I'm skeptical that he was reliant on it.

 

I wondered that too, though if he'd seen the show before, he knows that Penn tends to shuffle the same way when asked (overhand shuffle.)  I think the trick might have worked even better with a tarot deck, and I wondered if he had a backup if part of it failed.  Then I wondered if that's one of the things they edit out--when a trick just doesn't work.  I was amazed it fooled Teller, considering that it's a classic trick, but most stage magicians don't use it because of the ways it can go wrong.  There's also the issue that some people really get offended when you do a card trick with a tarot deck, although P & T have been restrained about their personal beliefs on this show.

 

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I can't comment on Berdini's hotness, but I have mixed opinion on his trick. The effect also works in a "subject forgets how to read" version and I think I like it better making them forget the word.

 

ITA about forgetting/changing the word.  "Subject forgets how to read" is how they did it on AGT, and Howie Mandel seemed to be wondering if he was having a stroke.  

Sometimes I think they should modify the rules so if P & T know how a trick is done in concept, but don't see the critical move, the performer goes forward--but P & T run their own Vegas show and can just do that anyway (as they did with bringing back Piff.)  

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I really hated Berdini's trick. The presentation of it was so boring, and the reveal was so disjointed, it had no punch. Just really poorly constructed. 100th Monkey is an absolutely terrific effect, and his framing was really garbage.

I liked Markson and Psenicka a lot, their personality and enthusiasm really made for good performances. I loved that moment where Psenicka went and sat down in Penn's seat with that huge grin on his face.

Morphew's trick was easily the most difficult trick of the night to pull off, and he did it incredibly well. Palming cards when everyone knows you're going to palm cards is so tough to do, and it requires great routining and precise card handling. Really nice piece of card magic. 

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Some background from Penn's podcast: Sperry isn't usually in that character, but decided to commit to it 100% for Fool Us. This caught everyone with the show by surprise since he wasn't like that in rehearsal and Alyson was expecting a more normal conversation. Penn naturally thought this made it extra funny. I'm still wondering how Alyson actually felt about it, because she wasn't prepped to know she'd be pushing the coin into his eye.

What she did know (and practice) was Parent's shrinking cabinet. Normally it's done with an assistant. For whatever reason the producers didn't care for that version, so they put Alyson in and rewrote a lot of his monologue. The monitor that fooled Penn was there for her benefit.

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I missed this episode the first time around, and just saw it during the rerun.

I kind of think they gave Richard Turner the Fool Us out of respect for how good he is at what he does, and also because they didn't want to bother going through all 13 moves to figure it out.  I don't know if his statement was quite in the spirit of how the rules for the show usually work - at the end of his act, he said something along the lines of "Now if you can tell me all 13 moves I did to complete this trick, then I guess I didn't fool you".  I was familiar with several of those moves, and the truth is I could see some of the false shuffles and such he was doing - albeit watching on HD.  The guy is unquestionably good though, and it's hard to believe that he can manage to disguise these moves so well when he can't see them.

The other act I wanted to comment on was Kayla Drescher.  It was just a simple little effect, but I found the whole presentation oddly touching.

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The Jeff McBride trick was the main thing that stood out for me this week.  I've heard of Jeff McBride and am familiar with his videos that teach card sleights.  I think he's been on the show before?

Anyway, Penn was describing his trick with the water bowls as being an authentic illusion and not done with gimmicks.  It sounded like he was describing how it was done, but then they gave him the Fooler.  Was this another respect Fooler, or did they genuinely not know how he did it?

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@rmontro, I was thinking the same thing. It seemed like they knew exactly how it was done, and I was surprised by the "fooler" they gave him. I'd say it was a respect fooler again. 

I too thought that McBride had been on the show before, but apparently not, according to Wikipedia and to every other source I can find. Was there someone a great deal like him? Remarkable that we both thought the same thing here--a magic trick! ;)

I liked Watkins' trick a lot--sort of wonderment that appeals to me--even if I've seen that sort of thing before. I wasn't all that impressed with Li except for his confidence for his age, and what happened with the Sergio Starman/Steve Marshall swap?

Edited by Salzmank
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Yeah, the McBride trick is certainly a respect fooler. Everything Penn described says he knows how it's done, but they gave him the fooler anyway. It's a very nice piece of magic, cleverly choreographed to create a convincing illusion, but I don't believe for a second that it fooled P&T.

Watkins' trick was very good, but Eric Mead's is my favorite presentation of the trick.

 

I think dice stacking is fascinating, and Steve Marshall was awesome at it. What a great, great act.

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9 hours ago, Salzmank said:

I too thought that McBride had been on the show before, but apparently not, according to Wikipedia and to every other source I can find. Was there someone a great deal like him? Remarkable that we both thought the same thing here--a magic trick! ;)

It's mentalism!  Lol.

Teller looked genuinely choked up with Kevin Li's trick, looked like his eyes were filling with water.  It didn't have that kind of emotional effect on me, but I have to respect Teller's opinion.  Maybe brought back some nostalgia for his coming of age years.

And I'll also add a comment about the dice stacking being interesting, I forgot to mention that before.

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20 hours ago, rmontro said:

The Jeff McBride trick was the main thing that stood out for me this week.  I've heard of Jeff McBride and am familiar with his videos that teach card sleights.  I think he's been on the show before?

 It sounded like he was describing how it was done, but then they gave him the Fooler.  Was this another respect Fooler, or did they genuinely not know how he did it?

I'm probably wrong but I thought what he meant was more like they know all the things they said they knew, which is generally how it's done, and means they do know, but essentially none of what they could say would be specific enough for the criteria required to not be a fooler? Kind of like...if all they could say we're "well it's all slight of hand" that'd be too vague, they'd need to imply what sort of move. That kinda thing.

I also found the trick with the girl at the end both underwhelming and completely confusing given the intro.

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1 hour ago, theatremouse said:

I also found the trick with the girl at the end both underwhelming and completely confusing given the intro.

I agree, they were trying to be clever, but it just ended up being confusing.  Even though as soon as I saw the little girl, I knew it was a joke.  But it was still distracting, and not in a good way.

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I saw them do the "hot air" act on the Tonight Show a few weeks back (assuming it's what I think it is).  Not that much of a magic trick really, but I found it highly entertaining.

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5 hours ago, rmontro said:

I saw them do the "hot air" act on the Tonight Show a few weeks back (assuming it's what I think it is).  Not that much of a magic trick really, but I found it highly entertaining.

Do you mean the one where they're (supposedly) in giant inflatables of themselves? I thought they've been doing that for a while. I think it's highly entertaining too.

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2 hours ago, Salzmank said:

Do you mean the one where they're (supposedly) in giant inflatables of themselves? I thought they've been doing that for a while. I think it's highly entertaining too.

Yeah, that's the one.  I imagine they have been doing it for awhile, but that's the first time I've seen it.  I love the music in it, they get a nice groove going.

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Loved this episode. Liberty was okay, but everyone else was exceptional.

Blass's trick was great, and the frog load was genuinely shocking. The way it just appeared from the deck just looked incredible and magical. Loved it.

Gertner was fantastic, just like last time he was on the show. His routines are so clever and well-constructed.

Sergio Starman legitimately blew me away. That's a classic style routine done absolutely flawlessly. I know what I'm looking for, and while I caught some of the steals and loads, there were a ton that I didn't see. A master class in misdirection, and one of the best acts they've had on the show to date.

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I didn't think there was a weak act in the entire show. I'm not a magician, but I do know enough to recognize that all of the acts were variations on classic tricks with a few twists thrown in. They were all just so well executed and routined. They reminded me oddly enough of Michael Vincent from the first season. Sure, you would recognize the moves if you knew what to look for, but I just didn't care. My favorite was Sergio Starman even though he didn't fool Penn & Teller. I'm just a sucker for a well done silent trick, and his pantomime was perfect.

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21 hours ago, SomethingClever said:

Sergio Starman legitimately blew me away. That's a classic style routine done absolutely flawlessly. I know what I'm looking for, and while I caught some of the steals and loads, there were a ton that I didn't see. A master class in misdirection, and one of the best acts they've had on the show to date.

That was a great act, the thing I liked the best about it was his expressions.  And the jazz music accompanied it perfectly.  He did make a mistake though, he dropped the ring while it was on his index finger.  And I don't mean it fell off his finger, it looked like it fell off through his finger, if you get my meaning.  Didn't matter to me though, he didn't even miss a beat, just went on with the act.

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5 hours ago, rmontro said:

That was a great act, the thing I liked the best about it was his expressions.  And the jazz music accompanied it perfectly.  He did make a mistake though, he dropped the ring while it was on his index finger.  And I don't mean it fell off his finger, it looked like it fell off through his finger, if you get my meaning.  Didn't matter to me though, he didn't even miss a beat, just went on with the act.

Yeah, I saw that unintended flash too. Somewhat educational to those wanting to know how he did it.  But on the whole, not a problem and part of a very smooth act.

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OK, if no one minds my starting this one off...

 

I did enjoy this episode, but somewhat less than the others this season. 

The monkey was fun, even if I spent the whole time wondering just how much training that poor monkey had to go through. Is the trick original? I think so, and I give Sean-Paul and Juliana credit for that, but I didn't think it was going to fool Penn and Teller, and it didn't.

I wasn't quite sure what Andrews was going for. Is "walking on the broken bottles" even a trick? Penn said they're real bottles, but are there certain areas in the "walk" where he can put his feet? One criterion I have for magic is that it feels magical, even if I know how it was done. That's wildly subjective, of course, but I usually ask myself, "Is this something incredible?" Even for P&T's "debunkings" of well-known tricks, the skill still makes it feel "magical." All that is to say that I didn't find Andrews' trick all that magical or wonderful. Ehh was pretty much my reaction. I appreciate that the glass-walking takes undeniable talent, though.

Call me crazy ("you're crazy, Salzmank!"), but I didn't like Mead all that much. The patter made him seem full-of-himself and cocky; the trophy may well be a "respect fooler," but then I didn't think he should have led in with the "90-10" comment. As Penn said, that doesn't have anything to do with Fool Us; the 90% was all that was necessary for showing that he didn't fool them, but by leading off with that cocky comment he ended up getting the trophy anyway as a form of insurance. ("Heh, heh--are you disingenuous enough to claim I didn't fool you? Because, if you're not, then you'd give me that trophy.") It was a grand piece of magic, but I couldn't stand the act. I happily admit that many others may have the complete opposite reaction, but I stand by what I felt.

Oddly enough, Reza was my favorite magician this episode, which I wasn't expecting. I thought the trick was tons of fun, and--though I knew some of what happened--I'm more than happy to admit that it fooled me. (Take that, Eric Mead! Even a layman who knows something will admit that he's fooled in general! ;) )

The "national magic trick" is an old P&T routine, and it's fine, but it felt a weak way to end the episode.

Spoiler

False thumbs, right?

Even if my guess if wrong, it didn't feel satisfying, and I think that's a very important part of magic, whether or not one was "fooled." (Perhaps that's what I really meant in all my comments about wonder and "magic" in Andrews' performance.) 

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5 hours ago, Salzmank said:

The monkey was fun, even if I spent the whole time wondering just how much training that poor monkey had to go through. Is the trick original? I think so, and I give Sean-Paul and Juliana credit for that, but I didn't think it was going to fool Penn and Teller, and it didn't.

I thought the act would be gimmicky with weak jokes. And at first it was, but by the end they had really warmed to me. Predicting the added up number is an old and fairly simple trick, but the showmanship is in how they dress  it up. And using a well-trained monkey is some pretty good showmanship.

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I wasn't quite sure what Andrews was going for. Is "walking on the broken bottles" even a trick? Penn said they're real bottles, but are there certain areas in the "walk" where he can put his feet? One criterion I have for magic is that it feels magical, even if I know how it was done. That's wildly subjective, of course, but I usually ask myself, "Is this something incredible?" Even for P&T's "debunkings" of well-known tricks, the skill still makes it feel "magical." All that is to say that I didn't find Andrews' trick all that magical or wonderful. Ehh was pretty much my reaction. I appreciate that the glass-walking takes undeniable talent, though.

Sword swallowing and other "carnie tricks" aren't really magic either, but the show has expanded its range in that regard. Passing through a wall (of glass bottles) is trick enough, even if not a fooler.

There are gimmicks to the glass walk, but it's mostly just physics. Putting your weight across 30 pieces of glass is less impact than putting it on one piece above a hard, flat floor.  You'll notice he thoroughly cleaned off his foot before stepping off the glass walk.

It wasn't amazing, but it was fine.

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I didn't like Mead all that much. The patter made him seem full-of-himself and cocky; the trophy may well be a "respect fooler," but then I didn't think he should have led in with the "90-10" comment. ...  It was a grand piece of magic, but I couldn't stand the act. I happily admit that many others may have the complete opposite reaction, but I stand by what I felt.

I agree with how it came across. I'll rationalize that he just wanted to be competitive and didn't realize how cocky and manipulative it would sound. They probably would have given him credit anyway, as they did last week with Jorge Blass - the main trick is known (Mike Close), but they missed the frog swap and so he won for just that piece.

That said, if there are 3 gimmicks you don't want to lose because one of them is known. It was a really good trick and I understand his desire to win. But in the end, winning is not as important as coming off well. And as you say, it hurt him in that regard.

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Oddly enough, Reza was my favorite magician this episode, which I wasn't expecting. I thought the trick was tons of fun, and--though I knew some of what happened--I'm more than happy to admit that it fooled me. (Take that, Eric Mead! Even a layman who knows something will admit that he's fooled in general! ;) )

 

Mine too. I know just enough card magic to appreciate well-done moves, but couldn't catch anything there.  I was hoping he would fool them but they know too much. :)

 

And I agree National Magic Trick needs more pomp and circumstance. For the live audience it's probably a long trick because they need to get the props and rehearse. But for us it's less than a minute.

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12 hours ago, Salzmank said:

Call me crazy ("you're crazy, Salzmank!"), but I didn't like Mead all that much. The patter made him seem full-of-himself and cocky; the trophy may well be a "respect fooler," but then I didn't think he should have led in with the "90-10" comment.

I'm not sure what part of the trick was supposed to have fooled Penn and Teller.  I guess it must have been the cork going from the bottom to the top of the stack.  That was the only difference from the classic routine that I noticed.  If he was looking to get a Fool Us award, I'm not sure why he would pick such a well known, classic trick.  His sleights were very well done though.

The monkey trick was entertaining, although I'm not fond of monkeys, they creep me out.  I don't really like the idea of people keeping them as pets.  As Penn said, they don't make good ones.

 Regarding the National Magic Trick, obviously they had to show the audience how to do the trick, as well as supply the props, although we weren't told this.  Probably there were some viewers who thought that it was some sort of trick hankie (although I'm sure you nailed it, Salzmank).  But I liked watching the expression on the faces of some of the people as they did the trick.  Allison threw in a "Whew" after she did the move.

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Super excited to hear that Kyle Littleton is gonna be on the show. I saw him at a convention a couple years ago giving his first ever lecture, and he was awesome. He's got some great tricks with some really terrific and clever methods.

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I found Andrews' act to be essentially bad routine design. Walking on broken glass and going through those bottles were completely separate tricks with a lot of time in between them. There just wasn't anything tying them together. Plus even I could see that there was something weird about the way that bottle broke. 

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I've posted a few clips of Eric Mead on here before, he's one of my favorite magicians. His sleight of hand is exquisite, his routines are thought-out down to the tiniest detail, and his presentations are intelligent and thoughtful. So I was prepared to love this, and I did. I kind of wonder if magicians and non-magicians are going to react differently to that intro. I loved it. I thought it was a fun bit of challenging P&T, and it was very much of a piece with other stuff I've seen Mead do. I can see how it may come off as cocky, or an attempt to game the system, but I just thought it was fun, and I never care who actually fools them or not, so I don't care if he deserved it or not.

As for the trick itself, it's gorgeous. Ramsay's Cylinder and Coins is one of my absolute favorite magic tricks. It's the only coin trick that's ever really made me want to learn and practice coin magic (I haven't done it yet, but it I ever do, it'll be for the purpose of being able to do this trick). Mead's version of it is exquisite. Every movement is motivated, the vanishes are gorgeous, his solution to the last coin problem is excellent, and the vanish of the cork is a great kicker (particularly for other magicians). 

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I liked this one a lot.  A lot was going on in the first trick, but it fooled me as well. 

I'd heard the story of the light and heavy box before, but this was a nice variation, including the twist at the end.

I kept wanting to compare this one (and last week's) to Masters of Illusion, but that's not fair; different shows are trying to do different things.

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It's nice to see them fooled with big stage magic. Card and coin tricks are nice, and showcase years of work on mental and dexterity skills. But to hide big props takes a special kind of innovation.

Kyle Littleton had very good character and banter, and made the trick a lot of fun. I'd like to say the same of the Beckers, but their dialogue didn't quite work. I think the problem is that they were trying to upend the "magician's assistant" thing, except that they never really established it. So she didn't come across like the put-upon assistant standing up for herself, nor the reluctant assistant rolling her eyes as she played along. She was basically established as the boss, and therefore not the underdog.

Lion Fludd fooled me. Very likable guy and I was hoping he'd win. That sort of effect has been done with a force for a long time, so I understood Penn emphasizing the free choice thing. Doing it this way was great.

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Two things about the chicken trick: first, the chicken was temporarily blinded by the flash paper. Why? Was the chicken somehow "reset" by doing this? Second, notice how different the size of the letters on the "target" paper are. The real wish has the word "craft" much larger than the other words. The other signs have letters that are all similarly signed. The chicken could have been trained to notice this difference.

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I liked this one a lot...especially Ekaterina's line about "I don't think my husband would like you searching me, so..."  (It might have been "my dress").

And I really liked the multiplying balls from the ball and vase routine.  I spotted at least one move, but missed some of them as well, and the Dracula story was very cute.

Also, this is one of the greatest titles of any show--it makes me wish they gave an Emmy for show titles.  (Just give it to the whole show instead.)

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The Spanish card magician (Javi Benitez?) didn't really do it for me. For whatever reason my attention kept drifting while he performed. Which I suppose is a special risk silent acts, but not a problem I usually have.

The rest I was very much into. I enjoyed the volunteers during Mike Bliss's bit. One was just on the verge of talking too much, which would be a problem he'd have to curtail. But as it turned out I felt she had just the right level of response for the kind of interaction he wanted to have with them.

Ran Gafner's prediction with bells is a clever spin on the trick, and a lot of fun with the final effect. Ekaterina's move was a little obvious for me, but then I knew what to watch for. That aside, Banksy is a good excuse to use the balloon and she tied it together well.

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I liked the Spanish card trick, but this was one of those relatively rare weeks where my favorite act was the Penn and Teller bit.  I wasn't even worried about figuring out how it was done, I just enjoyed it.  I really liked the eight year old "Dracula" story, and Penn screaming every time another "unexpected" ball appeared.  Also a nice way to get some free advertising for their magic kit.

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