Friday, 14 January 2011

The Magicians BBC TV

As I have been asked by so many what I think about this series. The following email seems to be the overall view of the comments I have had, and comes from a friend, a teacher in the North West.

I was interested in your comments about the current magical experience. Not that I am an avid viewer as my spectator views are 'Paul does that." "See that before." "That's not new." "That's making a lot of presentation and wafting about very little magic." So it is now part of the 'flicking' process as I think it is a waste of effort.
However accepting that you spoilt me views (!) I was interested to hear what my students had to say about it. They aren't very impressed either and don't think it is doing magic any favours. The most general opinion is trying to making it competitive. They seem to think it spoils it all and the viewer can't just sit back accept it for what they do. All the in between discussion are a total waste of time. They think it looks tatty. I actually think they have gone to great lengths to try to make it look not tatty but the concept of scale for the TV screen seems to have got out of hand.

Your views may well be different BUT if you are a magician hobbyist I am sorry, but your views don't really count, 'cos we are supposed to be entertaining the public, not just playing with our toys. Oops, I'll be that upsets somebody!

6 comments:

Martyn said...

Excellent point, Paul. I have opinions on it as a viewer and non-magician, but I wouldn't have thought in a million years that a professional magician would accept it (and they shouldn't!).

That said, I am disappointed in The Magicians. On the other hand, I REALLY enjoyed Penn & Teller: Fool Us. I loved their take on the sawing a woman in half illusion. Gory, but really well presented. The acts themselves were very entertaining - so much more so than those seen on The Magicians. It looked FUN rather than being strictly COMPETITIVE.

I'd like to see that format expanded and perhaps suggest having other professional magicians take turns to figure out how the illusions are done. The jargon went above my head and doesn't seem to give the game away (at least not too much). It's definitely, in my eyes, the better magic show format.

Paul e Watts said...

Totally agree, as a semi-pro magician I think 'The Magicians' do magicians no good at all. There's far too much inane padding between the magic. I know we're almost devoid of magical programming on terrestrial TV and have been for years (the last magical TV series I enjoyed was Paul's 'Secrets' and how many years ago was that (Paul?) - there's really been nothing else since) but 'The Magicians' doesn't go anywhere near filling this massive black hole.

The Penn & Teller ‘Fool Us’ programme, however, as mentioned earlier was true entertainment. There was competition, yes, but that wasn't the focus. The focus was on the ability to perform and entertain and to baffle the very knowledgeable Mr Penn & Mr Teller. Magic on TV can be very entertaining and TV programmers instead of trying desperately to compete with the nauseous weekend programming we're all subjected to these days should explore what worked well many years ago. Bring back Mr Daniels I say! Would you consider hosting a 'Fool Us' type series yourself Paul? I’m convinced it would be a massive success.

A Magic Life said...

Both comments so far carry some weight BUT even though I did enjoy the Penn and Teller I don't see why have to have competitions and hooks at all in ANY light entertainment program.
Surely the performers and their material should be good enough to stand up in their own right and just ENTERTAIN us without all the boring padding generated by the 'competition'.

Masterless Magician said...

I suppose the compition angle is just part of the times, it's the thin edge of the reality TV wedge. I would much rather see someone train, practise and talk about their experiences if they want to turn this into reality TV. But doing that without revealing methods is very hard (as I said months ago, the Convention Crasher is the only case where I saw that work. Now I know that shows aren't always shown in the order they are filmed, but is it me or are they getting better at presenting this show over the weeks. (That said I see they've changed the intro format, which I believe is a sign that someone involved is worried things aren't quit working).
Regardless as Mr. Daniels pointed out, it's not aimed at magic types, and if the public enjoy it, then great :)

Masterless Magician said...

a fantastic interview with R. Paul Wilson a producer of the Magicians (and the goatied chap from the real hustle and the creator of a great series of dvd's based on the royal road to card magic)
http://www.linkingpage.com/magicnewsfeed/2011/1/18/mnw-202-r-paul-wilson.html

he echoes a lot of Paul's comments in that it's not a show FOR magicians, and ultimately, he DID get magic back on the screen, he goes in-depth into WHY it had to be a competion with celebs.

ratcatcha said...

Paul,
I wouldn't worry too much about being criticised of 'bitterness and jealousy' if you bad-mouthed this twaddle. Why do producers think we want to sit and watch celebrities on absolutely everything?!
Although the Penn & Teller thing was better than this, as you have said: why can't we be just entertained without 'an exciting twist' added to it by producers who treat all viewers as the lowest common denominator?!