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.