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Saturday, 26 January 2008

Magic shows

The Magic of Jesus, Channel 4, Friday 30 December 2005
Did we like it?
It provided reasonable entertainment for an hour, but the quality of the magic far outweighed the likeability of the two presenters and magicians, Barry Jones and Stuart McLeod.

What was good about it?
• The whole idea of re-creating the miracles of Jesus using their own magic was very good. Channel 4's patronage of magickry (yes, we did make that word up, but it'll be in Webster's next year) is also laudable, if perhaps a little desperate to make it cool by taking elements of Jackass on board.
• It was a particularly nice notion to get various people of religion to read the text from the bible that was relevant to each trick.
• The walking on water, the making the blind see and the turning of water into various different drinks at the whims of a wedding party were all very impressive tricks. The virgin birth was incredible.
• The show proved that Jesus wasn't so great at all. Just a very competent magician. I bet the American Christian right are preparing to invade the C4 offices as we speak.
What was bad about it?
• Barry and Stuart are pretty annoying. Their presentation seems desperate and contrived, as if they imagine themselves as the Vic and Bob of magic, but they can't quite carry it off. Their over-rehearsed style only makes it seem as if they're trying to hide a lack of personality.
• The irritating reactions of the witnesses to the various tricks. We don't need to be told whether something is amazing or not, we can work that out for ourselves.
• The good tricks were almost equalled by the poor ones. The waking the dead was pretty lame (as was the woman who they chose to witness the trick - she shrieked when she saw the 'dead' body - what did she expect to see on entering a morgue?) because it was obvious they would never be allowed to use a real dead body for a magic trick. The feeding of the masses with loaves and fish was also very poor - the baskets used were so obviously gimmicked it was embarrassing.
• There was a bizarre, perhaps suspicious, lack of amazement from many of the people involved in the tricks. The woman they used to wake the dead jumped a bit, but that was it, while the Egyptian fishermen seemed totally non-plussed when they caught the fish and found the previously-marked coin inside one of them.

When Magic Goes Wrong, Channel 4, Friday 30 December 2005
Did we like it?
There were some eye-opening, even eye-watering, clips. But overall a whole hour of this was stretching it a bit. And we are really fed up with talking head shows.

What was good about it?
• The woman who was chosen by a magician as a volunteer and ended up having a spike jammed into her hand. The trick involves putting a spike under four cups and thrusting a hand down on three of them. Unfortunately, the magician in question forced her hand down on the wrong cup. The woman claimed never to have received an apology. There was quite a funny, if painful silence when her hand hit the spike, but, amazingly, as the magician claimed he couldn't carry on and took a bow, the crowd gave him a small round of applause.
• Quite a lot of the footage was stuff we'd never seen before - a refreshing change from the usual fare of this genre.
• The clip of the magician crashing his motorbike into a flaming ring was amusing for its sheer stupidity, but Andy Nyman, one of the pundits, went over the top saying he hoped he'd died and all kinds of crap in an effort to make himself look edgy.
• There were some good 'gasp' moments - such as the clip of idiot magician Jonathan Goodwin trying to escape from being tied to a bed before an iron could burn through a sheet above him. He failed and the hot iron slammed onto his stomach.
• The very funny footage from a Superbowl half time show that featured some of the most botched magic and illusions ever seen. Brilliant
What was bad about it?
• It was presented by Barry and Stuart again. They were also on the next programme. Do these two really possess the talent to have an entire evening of Channel 4 dedicated to them?
• The irritating trait of these programmes where some incredibly obscure home footage is dug out and pundits comment on it as if they've known about it for years rather than just having it shown to them previously by the production team. It's a redundant concept, we are able to see what went wrong, we don't need no-marks to point out those tiny details that they think we haven't spotted.
• The fact that the magicians needed different descriptions under their names, like "sleight-of-hand magician" and, worse, "street-magician" which is just a common, lame attempt to be 'down with the kids' by putting the word 'street' in front of something for no reason.
• Dominik Diamond was in it.
• Penn and Teller turned up with 15 minutes left. We were delighted to see these legends on the show, then annoyed because they hadn't been on more often, before realising it was an interview for something else bought in for this show.
Monkey Magic, Five
How many items on Five's Monkey Magic were magical?
• Monkey Boy empties out all his mobile phones to answer a call that actually is on a big normal phone in his jacket pocket. Miscast
• Tufty ties up Papa and leaves him in a phone box to get free. Miscast
• The Colonel plays with a false bogie while interviewing Michael Winner. Miscast
• Monkey Boy performs a coin trick while naked. Miscast
• Tufty does a magic trick while being attacked by a boxer. Miscast
• Monkey Boy performs an old Great Soprendo trick. Magic
• Tufty turns into the Incredible Hulk (Papa painted green). Miscast
• Colonel performs the same coin trick twice. Magic
• Tufty fills up a cup with tea from his T-shirt. Miscast
• Papa does a balloon trick at a temple. Miscast
• The gang perform misspell magic where a rabbit from a hat becomes a rabbi from a hat. Miscast
• Who’s in Papa’s pants? Miscast
• Monkey Boy does a trick with bubblegum and a ring. Magic
• Tufty guesses what topping a pizza waitress likes. Magic
• Papa performs a variation of sawing a woman in half in the gym. Miscast
Totals Magic: Four Miscast: Eleven

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