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Wizard Wars episode two, may have had new faces as the contestants, but the four in-house wizards were the same, Shimshi, Justin Flom, Gregory Wilson, and Angela Funovits. Show judges were, again, Penn Jillette and Teller along with magic critic and astronomer Christen Gerhart and illusionist Jason Latimer. Ellen Fox reprised her job as the show’s host and presenter. The premiere episode last week was entertaining and featured some original magic tricks and acts that impressed, the only question by the end of the premiere was whether or not the series could deliver again.
The answer is yes they can. This week’s show began with Penn, and Teller, telling an amusing story about magicians “knowing” their props. To follow up this funny tale, Penn explained that the magicians in the contest show would be using “everyday common items” for the tricks as Teller took his partner’s watch off and smashed it with a hammer. A pretty funny start to an episode that focused on comedic magic.
The format is also the same, two teams of “Challengers” must compete against one another and the winner then moves on to round two where they face a team from the wizards. The grand prize is still $10,000 and the challengers must pull off something pretty special to take home this big win.
The contestants in episode two of Wizard Wars were the duo of Murray Sawchuck, the man who made a steam engine disappear on America’s Got talent who teamed up with the winner of the “Rising Star” award at the Reel Awards in Las Vegas, Rob Anderson. Both of these Nevada denizens faced a Southern California team with one member of the opposing duo originating from Sweden.
LA’s Eric Buss, who’s been on America’s Got Talent and David Letterman’s The Late Show along with fellow Los Angeles performer Mattias Ramos who is also a mechanical engineer faced the Vegas team hoping to take home the big prize.
The competitors were judged on deception, creativity and showmanship. In the first contest the three items to be used by both teams were – dog treats, packing crates and a puppy. Murray and Rob went first and the show featured the two magician’s working out what they wanted to do. Wizard Wars episode two is still the same set up where the audience at home get to see how the performers interact with one another.
Their act consisted of several disappearing tricks which counted against them, but the judges loved their showmanship and creativity. Mattias and Eric then did an audience participation act that was not only clever and impressive, but the comedic values massively impressed all the judges.
It was the comedy that won the first challenge and the two LA performers then got to go up against resident wizards Justin Flom and Shimshi. In the second round, each team had to use four items, a kimono, a gold umbrella, a bag of hard candy and an armoire.
As the challengers went up to the magic workshop, judge Jason Latimer put on a small show that centered around a bowl of water and a volunteer. Just like the first half of the show, Mattias and Eric were then “shown” setting up their act.
The two LA performers made good use of all of the items and their second act was even funnier than their first one. The tricks were mainly of a balancing nature. While the tricks were impressive, it was the duo’s comedic timing, delivery and gags that made their act so impressive.
Shimshi and Justin, after setting up the basis of their routine, did the usual wizard performance. Polished, uber professional and funny. Despite the fact that all the judges agreed that the two wizards did great, Penn especially like the Lifesavers trick, the two resident experts did not walk away with the win this week.
On episode two of Wizard Wars, even though Justin Flom had the audience gasping, it was the funny magical team that won. Mattias and Eric walked away with the 10K prize. This show has to be one of the most entertaining programs on SyFy and possibly on television. Almost like impromptu magic, the teams all work very well together and whether they win or lose, the audience are the real winners here watching these professionals do their thing. Wizard Wars is on SyFy Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
By Michael Smith