Phenomenon October 24, 2007  

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Phenomenon opened with a little background on Chriss Angel and Uri Geller, the two celebrity judges. I don't know much about Chriss, but I've heard he does camera tricks that are edited to look good, similar to David Blaine.

Then they showed Uri Geller, Mr. Spooky Eyes. Seriously, Uri, you don't need to try so hard. They even showed Uri on Carson and gave credit to that embarrassment to bringing him down.

There were ten mentalists on the stage, four of whom would perform in this episode. Two of the four who receive the lowest number of phone and internet votes will be eliminated. The math of showing four doesn't make sense to me. If four perform and two are eliminated that means you have a 50/50 shot. If six perform next week, then maybe three are eliminated? It's an odd split. I've seen a lot of reality shows and I've never seen anything done this asymmetrically before.

Three celebrity guests - Carmen Electra, Ross Matthews, and Rachel Hunter were also on hand to assist the mentalists.

Ehud was up first. We learn that he had a dream his brother was killed and ten years later he was woken up with news that his brother was killed. The show doesn't say if he was killed in the same way as in the dream.

Ehud performs a PK Touch routine. He had Carmen and Ross on stage to help him out. First Ehud told Carmen to close her eyes. Then he said he was going to touch her. He ran his fingers over his forehead and asked her to point out where he touched her. She pointed to her forehead. Next he tickled Ross under the chin and asked Carmen where he touched her that time. Carmen tickled herself under the chin. Then he had Ross touch himself on the nose and asked Carmen where Ross had touched her. She said "nose" and then touched her nose. Last he asked her to imagine herself touching herself and he wrote something down on a card. He asked her where she imagined and she said "my chest" and he turned over his card which had "chest" written on it.

I wasn't impressed. First, he never claimed that he hadn't worked with Carmen or Ross before the show. To me it seemed like a complete set up and that they had rehearsed it ahead of time. I just didn't buy it.

Chriss judged first and said his stage persona was OK but that he wasn't committed to the act. He said his routine was average and advised him to do better like Banacheck.

Uri was impressed and felt that Ehud had "real power to manipulate mind energy at your will."

Jim K was up next after a commercial break. He once had a dream of winning lottery numbers and those numbers (222 on 12/22) won someone the lottery. Not him, of course. I guess he didn't believe in his own skills. He said that sometimes he scares himself with what he can do. Uh huh.

Jim called Ross and Rachel up to assist him. He had Rachel put on protective eye gear and step back. Then he teased Ross by saying he was going to put his finger in a fox trap. Ross, of course, didn't. Jim used a pencil instead and the pencil snapped. Then Jim pulled out a wolf trap and had Ross set it by stepping on it. He misdirected for a while by trying to get Ross to stick his hand in the trap. Then he had Rachel write down a celebrity on a card that was facing away from him. After a bit of playing around he stuck his fingers in the trap and the trap didn't hurt him. Surprise! It didn't look like it had much oomph behind it. He also guessed that Rachel had written down Jeff Goldblum, which of course, she had.

I don't know much about mentalism, but I can tell what happened - fake trap and a mirror to read the celebrity Rachel wrote down. What a crock!

Chriss said the trick was funny, but disjointed.

Uri thought the trick was challenging. Challenging??

Then we had an interactive challenge with Uri. He pulled out five ESP symbols (square, star, circle, plus, and waves) and set them out on a stand. Then he picked one silently in his mind. He then projected that symbol to America three times and then stuck a card with that symbol in an envelope, sealed it, and put it in a locked clear box to be opened later. America was encouraged to call in and say which symbol Uri had picked. My husband chose the circle because it was the most visible when looking at Uri while he was "projecting" the symbol. I chose the wavy line because it was wavy. To be fair I chose it before Uri "projected" because I didn't realize I was supposed to wait.

Eran was up next. He almost drowned sailing once and became entranced by the thrill of near death experiences. He also had many other near death experiences that were not listed (according to him).

Eran's trick was basically Russian Roulette with six nail guns. An ambulance was standing by just in case. Oh my! He showed one nail gun working (number six, I believe) by shooting nails out of it at a board. Then he put up a screen, handed Carmen a cartridge of nails (from gun six supposedly) to load into one of the guns. He blindfolded himself and asked her to open each gun whether she planned to load it or not and leave it opened. She went down the line opening the guns and presumably loading one. Then he asked her to close the guns. She went down the line closing the guns.

Then he had her count from one to six and then count backwards six to one. After listening to her (not part of the trick, I'm thinking) he shot his head with the first three guns. No nails. Then he asked her to count 4, 5, 6 and she did. Then he picked up four, put it down, and then quickly shot at his head with six. Six was empty, of course. Then he asked her to say five then four. She did. He held four up to his head and five to the board and then asked her to say it again. She was saying four very quietly. He quickly switched and shot five at himself (empty) and four at the board (nails).

I thought it was a decent trick, but he might have palmed the cartridge of nails or something. My husband, who works with nail guns all the time, said there are a bunch of things he could have done from having special triggers, to being able to tell which gun was loaded (usually visible on a nail gun). Anyway, we both agreed it was more interesting than the first two.

Uri said he liked the suspense and he felt Eran took a major risk and that it was "mind blowing."

Chriss said it was dramatic and a good demonstration of a trick and applauded Eran.

Gerry was next. He was adopted, but his adopted father left them and he ended up in a broken home. From that he learned how to control situations.

Gerry picked six people from the audience and had Rachel, Carmen, and Ross up to help him. He had Gerry throw three frisbees out to the audience randomly to three people. He had the first person pick a telephone book (from four) off a table. The man picked four, which turned out to be the Atlanta phone book. He then had the next person pick a number between 1 and 949 (or something like that number). He referred to a paper on his hand for the number of pages in that particular phone book. She selected 333. He then had the next person pick a number between one and four for the column number. The man picked two.

he handed out seven cards to the six earlier volunteers from the audience and Carmen. Then he ran his hand down the column in the phone book and said stop at a certain point. (My husband and I disagree here. He thinks one (Gerry or Rachel) moved the hand and the other said stop, but thinking back I think he did both.) Anyway, he said that the NBC wouldn't let the full number be read out and so she had to use an X in the place of a number in first part of the number (the exchange) and in the second part of the number. He encouraged Rachel to use X as the first number and then read the second two. Then he told her to use X in the second half of the number. The number she read out was X23 259X.

Then he had the people holding the cards to reveal what was in them except for the X's. They had the same numbers 23 259. Then he had the first and last people reveal their numbers, both X's.

I don't know how he did the trick. Maybe he picked the number or used the paper to tell Rachel what to read out? I'm sure someone could easily explain it that knows how this stuff works.

Uri said the presentation fell flat.

Chriss said he needed to raise the bar to stay on the show.

The fact that both Chriss and Uri were unimpressed confirmed that it wasn't a difficult trick. You just need to know how it's done.

Then Uri's ESP symbol was revealed. 28% of Americans picked the star (27% picked the circle). The star was the second symbol in the list, right next to the circle. This trick may be something like what America's Psychic Challenge does with suggesting the option to choose or selecting the option most people are visually drawn to. In any case, the symbol on the sealed envelope was indeed the star.

And that's it until next week.

Update: Also be sure to read Mark Hoofnagle's review here.

Related Posts
Phenomenon October 31, 2007
Phenomenon November 7, 2007
Phenomenon November 14, 2007

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7 comments: to “ Phenomenon October 24, 2007

  • Anonymous
    Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 9:56:00 PM CDT  

    The Uri challenge was done with subliminal visual suggestion, whereby, during the "look into my eyes" sequence, the star was enlarged several times for a fraction of a second. While barely perceptable, it was plain to me that the star was changing its appearance while Uri was imploring viewers to focus on his thoughts.

  • Anonymous
    Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 11:47:00 PM CDT  

    Phone number trick: every listing in every phone book had the same number.

    Staple gun trick: loaded gun was heavier, which is why he picked it up - then put it down - not once, but twice.

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 8:38:00 AM CDT  

    About the nail gun trick... The mentalist also had Carmen say the numbers many times. The first time she counted one to six I thought that I saw some sort of a "tell" at 5, but I wasn't sure. I'm not a great poker player, but 5 was my guess from the beginning and I'm not sure what I keyed on (maybe nothing). I also thought I saw him pick up on a tell at 5 when she counted from 6 to 1. Of course, determining the weight of the gun is more fool proof, but how does that help with gun #1?

  • mamacita chilena
    Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 12:52:00 PM CDT  

    I've said it before and I'll say it again...I REALLY enjoy your reviews of these kinds of shows. You notice things that I would never pick up on!

  • ordinarygirl
    Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 12:55:00 PM CDT  

    It helps a lot that I watch the show with my husband (and that I take notes during the episode). He is much more detailed than me and it helps me get perspective when I talk to someone else about anything.

    And Anonymous, thanks for all of the information. It certainly makes sense. I don't have to know how it's done to believe it's bunk, but it's certainly more fun.

  • carli
    Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 9:51:00 PM CDT  

    I also thought that most of the tricks could have been rehearsed ahead of time with the participants. Criss Angel doesn't believe Uri Gellar has any supernatural abilities, and I tend to agree with him.

  • DoucheyCriss
    Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 12:59:00 AM CDT  

    Ehud used nearly invisible (PK) wire to tickle carmen's face, watch his hands during the trick. Also, she's blindfolded, so she doesn't know when he's actually touching Ross.

    The bear trap is obviously weakened and Carmen was in on it.

    Go look at any nail gun, they all have indicators to tell you when they are empty (usually a red dot) That's why all the guns were facing the same direction.

    And finally, Gerry simply had the number written on the piece of paper was using as a marker. If you watched closely you could see him tap the paper not the book when he says "read this number" Rachel was in on it.

    And finally, am I wrong or did Criss Angel came off as a total tool!? Every time he had to bring it back to himself and how he did the trick better. I'm pretty sure everyone involved with the show hates him...


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