Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reality Bites or CelebraCadabra Begins

Were you looking forward to this? Was anyone? Not I, remembering the Circus of the Stars fiascos. I have to be honest. I hate these misnamed reality shows. Unreality would be a better description. Nothing on there resembles real at all. I have carefully avoided watching any of these shows with only a couple of exceptions:

1) The Contender, all I can say is that I love boxing. This wasn’t that bad in its first season. This is the only show I watched from start to finish.

2) Flavor of Love, I did watch bits and pieces of this bizarre “love” fest, mostly because I was expecting hot black women. After my initial shock. I quickly learned BET and I were a better fit.

3) Celebrity Fit Club, I only watched a couple of episodes that featured Saved by the Bell’s Screech. Man, that guy is a huge dick. No wonder his career is in the toilet. (I mean besides that whole lack of talent thing.)

That’s where I stand on that whole unreality show thing. I hate them. There is only thing I hate more and that is celebrity unreality shows. Great, just what I need to see, overpaid narcissists competing for prizes. In many cases, these are millionaires vying for thousands of dollars. How did we get to the point when things are more interesting when they happen to celebrities?

I used to watch some game shows, early reality shows, if you will. It was interesting to watch everyday Joes (like me) go through the anguish and ecstasy of the game when the prize really mattered to them. Winning that Buick LeSabre changed their lives. I remember some of the most interesting guests on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson being just ordinary people.

There is only one way I can tolerate these mostly C-list celebrities and that is if they are dropped off on a deserted island and the show is titled, “SurvivorEat or Be Eaten”. That is appointment television. (SurvivorEat or Be Eaten, copyright William Pack 2008.)

So, I am embarrassed to say at 11:30 P.M. on April 27, 2008 I find myself with 200 channels and nothing to watch, except CelebraCadabra on VH1.

Here is the good news, it is better than I thought it would be.

Here is the bad news, it is still not good.

I just want to write a few impressions on seeing this first episode. I don’t know if I will watch any others. So this may be just the start.

For those of you who are not familiar with the premise. Each dubiously famous, marginally talented marketing entity is pair up with a talented and inversely proportional unfamous magician. That magician prepares the celeb for various performing tasks. This first show featured Street Magic.

The Celebs:

Ant, most famous for being the host of Celebrity Fit Club

C. Thomas Howell, Actor, after some early promising work, mostly c grade movies

Hal Sparks, TV host, Talk Soup and Actor, Queer as Folk

Chris “Kid” Reid, part of rapper duo, Kid and Play, and stand-up comedian

Lisa Ann Walter, Stand-up comedian and character actor

Kimberly Wyatt, Pussycat Doll, Arm candy

Carnie Wilson, most recently famous for being the size of an ox, and then not, and now again eating her way back to ox-dom.

The Magicians:

Asi Wind, inventor of the highly regarded Time is Money

David Regal, hugely inventive inventor of magic and TV Writer

Derek Hughes, comedy magician

Rocco, talented magician and self-made D’lite magnate

Silly Billy, Kid show superstar

Murray, the guy with the CDs

Simon Lovell, talented magician who sold his soul for a bottle of booze to shill for Magic Takers, Inc.

First, Jonathon Levit opens the show by welcoming everyone to the Magic Castle. Yea! Unfortunately, the show is shot in such a way that it could have been shot anywhere. The Magic Castle barely provides a background. I hope in future episodes they show off this magician’s Valhalla.

Early in the show, Ant tries to make alliances to try to upset other contestants. He has seen too many other unreality shows. This tactic seems doomed to fail. He’ll spend more time back-biting and tearing down the others while neglecting to perfect his own magic. Wait...he’ll just fit right in with the magic community. I predict he will have a long magic career, just not on this show.

The Performances:

Ant does a signed, torn, and restored mis-made dollar bill. Passable, but much edited. He spent the rest of his time on his true talent, being annoying.

C Thomas Howell tried to perform the floating bill and failed at first. Later, he succeeded while connecting to a séance, talking to the dead theme. ICKY. He made it, but was on the bubble. This guy does not have much self confidence.

Hal Sparks is quite comfortable. He performed a sequence with some newspaper ending with the production of a mouse. He also did the quarter in the bottle.

Chris Reid was also comfortable gathering a crowd and working it. Both his rap history and apparent comedy experience help. He did the borrowed ring to shoelace. He sold it well. He and Hal will both be difficult to beat.

Lisa Ann Walter also had no problem building a crowd and performing. She did a sexy card under her fishnet stockings. I think I may love her. She gets it and is having fun.

Kimberly Wyatt surprised me the most. She missed a little in her script, but her performance of a broken bottle, in the air, card stab was impressive. She is not just a body. Both she and Lisa have a chance for the top prize.

Carnie Wilson “Fucked up” Her F-words not mine. Later, she succeeded with a signed card through window. After which, she gleefully taunted the spectator/assistant’s family by yelling at them, “I got your father, I got your dad.” Thankfully, she omitted the “Naa naa naa.” Also, thankfully, she was kicked off the show with her coach Slimon Lovell. She didn’t want to believe it, but she was the worst. As host Levit said, “Maybe Whiz-Dree is not your thing.”

As far as the show goes, I did like the fact that they showed them nervous and failing. All magicians fail. We are only human. One of the hardest things to learn is how to get out of it, cover it, or do it gracefully. I look forward to seeing their progress.

I would like to see the teaching magicians work on the scripting a little better some of the themes were tenuous, needing to be fleshed out and more rehearsed. These are supposed to be actors, after all. Learn your lines.

Yet, many of the performances were no worse than people, I know,who have been dabbling in magic for years sometimes decades, who proclaim to be magicians, who have business cards, and who charge real money for shows. And in a few instances better than the average magic club blowhard. A sad, but true statement of fact.

I've seen a few reviews stating that the show had no spark. This is true. The magical moments aren't very magical. Not like we've learned to expect on television like from Blaine and that mindfreak guy.

The format is put together like a reality show Mad-Lib. Just plug in the right-ish phrase here and there and you have a show. CelebraJuggle, you'll be thrown out. CelebraVent, who is the dummy now. Celeballonatic...etc.

The most disturbing aspect is the idea that you can become a magician in twenty-four hours. I've been fighting this fight in my store for years. "Oh, I have a presentation tomorrow, what trick can I do? What do you mean none? I can practice all evening." Just shut up and go away.

C Thomas Howell is a good example. He fails at the floating bill trick and proclaims he is a magician. Isn't there a rule you have to actually perform a trick successfully before you can call yourself a magician?

The judging overall was correct, meaning they agreed with my assessments, but not very concrete with help. Franz Harary typically hit the nail on the head. Levit agreed with anything said like a human bobble head doll. Jeff McBride was his usual pompous self. Yes, McBride may be a fantastic magician, but he is excessively full of himself. First, stop talking with your hands and not in that, "hey I'm Italian, what do you expect kind of way," but in that I am in the THEATRE so you must notice me kind of way. Second, I don’t find comments like, “You need to get all those butterflies flying around in your stomach to fly in formation,” particularly helpful.

I begin to think:

This is your McBride:

This is your McBride on drugs:

His "advice" is just more of that empty new age woo-woo that passes for profundity. I expect he will provide me with a juicy life (not) changing quote like that in every episode.

Max Maven was unavailable to judge in the first episode. He will be joining the crew later and word is to keep an eye on his hair. I am looking forward to that. He also said he was brought on to be the Simon Cowell type character, but it didn’t turn out quite that way. Months ago he told he to give the show a chance that it wasn’t as bad as expected.

He was right.

As always.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was reading the article
about Muarry the other day
(again, but more through)in
Magic Magazine...

and after seeing the TV show
from 1979, I wondered if he
ever seen Diana the Enchantress do her vinyl act.