In last week’s Wizard Wars, episode three began with the in-house wizard team getting ready to decapitate fellow team member Shimshi with a giant electric saw. The trick, of course, went immaculately and the “victim” dramatically let his head droop after the blade passed “through” his neck. Cue gasps and applause. This show is a badly needed shot in the arm for television a program that fuses a mix of “reality” TV with a game show style of delivery. Rick Lax’s brain child – he is the show’s creator – is one of the most entertaining on any network at the moment.
Following the usual format, after the show’s open, Ellen Fox went onto to introduce the wizards, Gregory Wilson, Justin Flom, Angela Funovits and Shimshi. After welcoming the audience, the presenter then explained the rules and introduced the show’s judges, Penn & Teller, Christen Gerhart and Jason Latimer.
The first set of challengers this week consisted of LA magician Blake Vogt, who has developed acts and gags for David Copperfield, David Blane and movies et al. His partner was self taught magician Adam Trent who is also a singer and comic and who hails from Los Angeles as well and a clear favorite of Ms. Fox.
Cashaan Wallace from Ohio, a teen who developed close up magic with rubber bands is teamed up with Philly street magician Dan Hauss, who is a well known trick developer in the industry. The objects that the two teams of challengers had to use this week in their act included: Tarot cards, a flying helicopter and sparklers of the Independence Day sort.
Blake and Adam were shown looking over the props before their act and they initially decided to attach the sparklers to the chopper blades. Obviously that idea did not work very well but the two men did manage to evolve their initial idea so that the sparklers interacted with the blades instead.
A sparkler was used to “write” a prediction on the big helicopter’s blade. The two men utilized two “choppers” in the act and the first one, which opened the performance, was also used to end the act.
The judges all loved the routine and Penn quoted the Aretha Franklin song title R.E.S.P.E.C.T. in his critique stating that the two magicians treated their audience with respect and were never condescending. His reading of their act was on par with Ms. Gerhart’s who was of the opinion that the duo “knew” their audience.
Cashaan and Dan come out for their act and immediately performed some slight of hand that involved items moving from one magician’s hand to the other. Viewers can always tell which tricks that the performers do that are impressive by watching Teller’s face. If the challengers, or any wizard for that matter, do something that catches the other half of Penn & Teller’s imagination, his face beams.
The second team of Cashaan and Dan, while impressive with their slight of hand and the “object in the impossible location” finish, had an act that was harder to follow. This combined with the tarot card trick that Blake and Adam ended their act with, gave the first team the win.
Ellen then listed the items for the second half of Wizard Wars and episode three’s “big challenge” included a chess board with pieces, a salt and pepper shaker, a pirate costume and a rocking chair. After a short bit of deliberation, the two wizard team members to face Adam and Blake in the last competition were Shimshi and Angela.
While the two teams got themselves ready, Gregory Wilson gave a demonstration of magic that he said was developed when he was a waiter. Holding up a fork and a spoon, he asked a volunteer to pick out the fork. This amusing trick was well received by the volunteer and the audience. After the trick, viewers were treated to Adam and Blake working on what they might do with the props given.
Opening the act with a joke based on “autocorrect” where private was turned into pirate, which allowed Blake and Adam to use the pirate costume, the main portion of the gag then moved on to the chessboard and pieces. This allowed the salt and pepper shakers to be used, twice. Their finish focussed on the rocking chair, which Blake sat in for the majority of the show, being turned into paper and being pulled apart.
After the judges expressed amazement, and where Penn declared a “new” piece of magic had been developed, Angela and Shimshi come out to do their response. Their open had Shimshi tied in the rocking chair and while he was so entangled, the magician changed his shirt. Then he took the salt and pepper shakers and did an “up close” trick where he made the pepper disappear.
Angela then did a mentalist trick with the chess board and pieces with Penn & Teller assisting. The judges all liked the wizard’s performance, but in the end, it was down to a rocking chair. Blake and Adam turning the chair into paper gave them the win and the $10,000 prize.
Wizard Wars just keeps getting better in terms of tricks and magicians on the show, episode three proved that with high level of performance skills shown by the contestants. Show creator, Rick Lax actually provided a “behind the scenes” montage, which includes some of the funniest helicopter moments from the third episode, and more. Fans of the show, should have a look at the video, it is funny and shows that all involved are having as much fun as the audience. It also begs the question, just how old is Ellen Fox? Thanks Rick.
By Michael Smith