Phenomenon November 7, 2007  

Thursday, November 08, 2007

This week's episode starts with a short recap of the controversy from last week between the emogician (I'm stealing Rebecca's term) and the masturbater. Chriss and Jim are calm after watching the drama and there's no further name calling or fake masochism. /sigh

The celebrity guests are introduced and this week it's the Girls Next Door -- Holly, Bridget, and Kendra.

Last Week's Results
Then we have the voting results from last week. The six contestants that performed last week line up on the stage. The host pulls them out in twos, with one staying and one going. I'm mildly surprised, but the results aren't much different than I predicted.

I thought Angela, Jan, and Guy would stay. Let's see how it really turned out.

Mike and Jan were asked to step forward. The host wasted no time in telling Mike that he was safe. Jan was asked to step to the side of the stage. Jan had one of the best acts, last week, I thought and he was much more entertaining the Mike, but America didn't agree with me, it seems.

Then Wayne and Angela were asked to step forward. Wayne was told he would not be continuing on, which made Angela safe. Wayne moved to join Jan and Angela left the stage.

Guy and Jim were then asked to step forward. And Guy was safe. I was a little disappointed that Jim wasn't staying because it would be fun to see more drama, but at the same time he's terrible. Jim and Guy did a little shuffle and finally Jan, Wayne, and Jim were standing with the host asking for their final thoughts.

I missed what Jan said. Jim said he was happy because now he can do interviews and bypass Chriss Angel's preconceived ideas. Yep, just keep deluding yourself that people don't see right through you, you idiot. Wayne was gracious and said that a phenomenon makes himself and he still had that opportunity outside the contest if he continued working hard.

Next were the acts for this week. With the three men leaving, that left five contestants -- Mike, Angela, and Guy; and also Eran and Gerry from the previous week.

This Week's Contestants
Mike was up first. The lame introductions from previous episodes were bypassed and he went straight to work calling Bridget up to the stage. He had her sit in a chair and mentioned his act would be about voodoo. He asked her to close her eyes and sit still.

Then he pulled a voodoo doll from a nearby podium and tapped it on the shoulder twice. He asked her if she felt a touch and she said yes. He asked her how many times and she said twice. He asked her where and she pointed to her shoulder. This was another simple PK Touch routine. He did it pretty well, without a lot of waving, but like the PK Touch routine that Ehud performed in the first episode, it's likely a wire or something the audience can't see that he uses to touch her. Funny she didn't feel anything when he gripped the voodoo doll around the legs.

Then he had her hold out her hands. He stood in front of her and pulled her arms out and pressed her hands into fists. The camera panned away to the other celebrity guests, but I think it was the perfect opportunity to mark her hands, as we will see later. Then he had her close her eyes and grip her fists together tightly. He pulled out a lighter and lit it and then lit the two hands on the voodoo doll. After a few seconds he blew out the flames.

Then he asked her if she felt any heat in her hands. You can try it yourself. If you hold out your arms straight in front of you and grip your hands tightly into fists your hands will get warm. She said yes, a little heat. He asked her about the ash marks and she held out her hands and there were indeed two ash marks on her palms, like stigmata. But they looked like they were smudged there with a thumb, obviously done by Mike when he set her in position.

Then he pulled out a pin and stuck the voodoo doll in the butt. Bridget jumped visibly as she felt a prick, probably something that the chair that was set up to prick her remotely by Mike or someone backstage. The camera panned back to the other celebrity guests who thought it was funny. Then Mike pulled out another voodoo doll and handed it to Bridget. They pricked the doll in the butt, but the two women moved to the edge of the couch before they were pricked. Obviously they knew it was the couch and not the magic power of voodoo too because they moved to avoid the couch. Mike explained that the belief wasn't strong enough to effect them. Yeah, not quite a cover there.

Uri said that he loved this performance, unlike the previous episode and that he thought there was a great supernatural atmosphere.

Chriss said that Mike didn't need a supernatural effect, just an engaging performance to be entertaining.

Eran was up next. His routine was simply another roulette routine. If you remember his routine last week was the nail gun roulette routine. I'm tired of these already. Four vases were set up on the stage without lids. Holly was called up and asked to put a personal item that Eran had never seen in one of the vases and then put a lid on it. Then three snakes were brought out to put in the remaining vases, one was a painful biter and the other two were poisonous. Somehow, even though his back was turned to the vases, Eran knew they were taking a long time with the vases. He commented on it. Could he have had some type of mirror to see?

Matt, my husband, commented that the lids were probably marked, which seems likely.

Then the vases were spun around with Holly watching so she could know which vase was hers. Eran went through and concentrating on the vase Holly was concentrating on chose a vase and stuck his hand in. And was bitten, or at least I think he wanted us to think he was bitten. I doubt he was. It wasn't one of the poisonous snakes. Wasn't that fortunate? But even though he was in pain he wanted to try again. He described the item that Holly had put in the vase, a puffin, and she said "sort of". He then took her wrist and told her to concentrate harder and then he selected the correct vase and pulled out a gold necklace with a bird charm.

I think his routine would be more effective without the fake snake bite. It's exciting, I guess, but it makes it look like he's not really that good. Out of four vases he picks the wrong one the first time. Of course he can blame the celebrity guest for not "concentrating hard enough." There's always an excuse why magic doesn't work.

Uri said he was riveted and that Eran blew his mind. He said there was a mysteriousness in Eran, but he wondered if maybe he should try a different routine.

Chriss said incorporating animals into the routine was great because they're unpredictable, but that he thinks that Eran needs to try something different than roulette next time.

Angela started her routine by calling Kendra up to the stage. She had a table set up with a candle, a torch, and a fancy black towel. She took the candle in her hand and said that first she needed fire, and the candle spontaneously lit. I think there was probably a switch on the base of the candle that Angela used to light the candle.

She asked Kendra to think of a name of someone that is in her past that she isn't currently in contact with. Then she asked her to crumple up the paper. Angela turned her back while Kendra wrote down the name. Then Angela took Kendra's hand in hers with the paper held in both their hands. She asked Kendra to focus on the memories of that person. Kendra hesitated and asked if she could chose someone different. Angela laughed and said she only had one piece of paper.

Then Angela concentrated and said that there was resentment with this person and that it was not recent. That the person left her and that she thought Kendra wished for more from the relationship. I think at this point Angela already knew the name, but even if she didn't the things she said were pretty general and could be inferred from the criteria Angela gave Kendra for selecting the name in the first place.

Angela then took the crumpled up paper and set it on fire with the candle. She had trouble lighting it and had to try twice, then she used the paper to light the torch. I think the crumpled paper was supposed to be consumed, but it just fell back behind the fire of the torch and rested against the metal ring that surrounded the flame. But anyone could see the paper sitting there. I also don't think the paper actually lit the torch. I'm sure it had a switch or someone offstage lit it.

Then Angela started running the flame over her arm and hand. She looked pained. Kendra looked nervous. Angela shook her head and walked to the front of the table bringing Kendra with her. A footstool was set up there conveniently and Angela put her foot on the stool and started running the flame over her thigh. It was a good move. That girl has stunning legs. As she ran the flame over her leg, text started to appear very faintly.

She put the torch down and took the towel and pressed it against her leg, appearing to be even more in pain. She asked Kendra to reveal the name she had written down and Kendra said Eric Wilkinson, who is her father. Angela pulled the towel away to reveal Eric written in her leg in what looked to be blood.

It was a nice touch. I think she probably knew something about Kendra's father before the show and guided Kendra to write down her father. But I'm not certain.

Uri said that she did well at her mind over matter routines and that she knew how to seduce the camera and also that she was smoking hot.

Chriss said she certainly had sex appeal and that she was more confident and entertaining than last week.

Gerry, was up next. He was the one that did the phone book trick two episodes ago. He started by having Holly, Bridget, and Kendra each choose a paint ball gun. Each gun had a different color. Then he showed them a box with clear sides. The viewers could see that a paper was inside. Then he asked the girls to shoot at a target. He then went to stand in front of the target. He was already dressed in a white, full-body suit, so it wasn't unexpected.

Holly was up first to shoot. The gun had a laser pointer, so it was easy to see she aimed at his crotch. He acted nervous. She shot and he jumped and cringed. No mark appeared on him. She had missed. Then he he asked her to choose a different target and shoot again. She shot at his midsection and left an orange mark.

Then the act started to get bad. Bridget stepped up next to shoot. She also aimed at his crotch, but missed. Then she aimed low, but the mark showed up higher on his body. It didn't seem to match where she was aiming at.

Kendra was last and she aimed and missed three times before aiming at his chest and somehow hitting him on the leg. Hmmmm...

He then pulled the paper out of the box and showed an outline of a man with three spots in the same place as the ones on him. It also had written in the corner something like "six missed shots."

Well, of course. I'm sure the girls didn't have anything in their guns (blanks), or maybe plastic pellets. Someone was shooting at him from above or the suit was was set with paint pellets that would explode when he pressed a button, or something like that.

Uri said that it was a huge improvement over his last act and very entertaining.

Chriss said that he was much better and that his act was entertaining and funny.

Guy was last. And it was another roulette routine. *yawn*

He had a table set up with six or eight of a clear fluid He claimed they were all filled with hydrochloric acid and pointed out a guy standing next to him. The guy (not Guy), was James, a chemist, but he looked more like a young, mad scientist. A video played behind them of James pouring the clear fluid into all of the flasks. As if that's proof that the liquid really was hydrochloric acid.

Guy gave it to the celebrity guest (Holly? I can't remember who exactly) a flask filled with water (which looked just like the clear fluid, of course) and asked her to put replace a flask on the table with the flask she was holding. Then he pulled a screen in front of the two and Holly made her switch.

Guy pulled the screen away, bumping the table, and took the flask that had been replaced. He set it down on a side table and put a wad of aluminum foil in it. The liquid started bubbling and putting off smoke. Is it possible that wad of foil had a tablet in it that reacted to the liquid in the flask and that the liquid was really just simply water? Is it possible that all the flasks were really water?

The Guy had Holly concentrate on the flask that had water in it. Then he started placing the tin foil wads in different flasks until there were only three left. The flasks with the tin foil were all smoking now. If hydrochloric acid fumes were being released wouldn't that be dangerous? Yet no one was coughing.

He moved the three flasks that were not smoking to a separate table and had Holly look away. Then he mixed them up and asked her if she knew which flask was hers. She said no. Well, now he doesn't have to guess the exact flask she originally replaced if indeed all of the flasks have water in them, does he?

He asked Holly to imagine drinking the liquid in the middle flask. He asked her how she felt about it. She said she was unsure. He said then it couldn't be the water. He then put a tin wad in the middle flask and it didn't do anything. He put another tin wad in the liquid and it finally started smoking weakly. Maybe the tin wad was too tight around the tablet or whatever was in it that was reacting to the liquid.

He poured the first flask into the middle to show he thought that it was also hydrochloric acid and quickly took the last flask and drank it. And, he survived! Amazing! Yeah, OK. I was just glad the act was finally over.

Uri said that since Chriss had the last word last episode he wondered if Chriss would let him (Uri) buy him (Chriss) a drink? Chriss said yes, of course. Uri said that Guy had an enigmatic personality and was interesting to watch.

Chriss said that conceptually Guy is a good magician but that he has not executed to his fullest potential.

And that's it for this week. Two contestants will be kicked off next week when we find out who will go on to the next round. I think Angela, Mike, and Gerry will continue. Eran and Guy will go home.

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2 comments: to “ Phenomenon November 7, 2007

  • Fate
    Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 1:20:00 AM CST  

    I think your analysis and understanding of the episodes is somewhat lacking because you are ignoring a crucial aspect of 'mentalists'.

    A lot of their work is in tricking the mind and psychology and dependence upon statistical facts and research.

    A good example would be a trick in which I ask you to choose a number between 1 and 10. A statistically disproportionate number will choose 7. Using the knowledge that a group of people will likely choose 7, I can then 'hint' at the number in any number of ways to increase my odds further. Another fact to remember, is that when watching these shows successes have larger impacts than failures.

    The best example of that is the (I believe failed) trick of the snakes in the jars. Based on the handling of the snakes, I have a feeling that all three were treated so as to be (relatively) harmless. Unmodified odds of finding the correct container were 1 in 4. Modified after being bitten? 1 in 3.

    Also, keep in mind the use of angels and distraction, in addition to research. Watching the 'name on the paper and then on the leg' trick for instance, look at the angle the magician stood at. Her peripheral vision would have given a clear view of the paper. Primer of name on leg + heat + chemical in rag (or time), makes the name appear.

    *Always* watch the angels. Keep in mind that wires and so on are hard to conceal, and there are easier and more effective ways of working without them.

    Watch for timing - when someone has their eyes closed, and you ask them 'if they felt a touch' - they don't know when you touched the voodoo doll. They just know the question. The trick here is in having you ASSUME the two are connected. Next time you watch, use a DVR, and look at every time slice, not just the one with the 'stunt'. Also look for reactions.

    Just because you saw it at a certain time, doesn't mean they felt it then. You caught that really well in the 'ash' portion of the trick.

    To get an idea on how a lot of this stuff works, I'd suggest reading up on "Gestalt" Psychology. Magicians tend to be a bit secretive about their tricks, but the basis are well founded and documented.

  • ordinarygirl
    Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 4:19:00 AM CST  

    Thanks, Fate!

    The odds thing on the jars I think I alluded to, but I felt the entire "bite scene" was too fake. But it's possible he was just guessing.

    I'm not approaching this as knowing much at all about mentalists and I admit this show is much better than the psychic show. I'm really just hoping to get a discussion started and read comments like you posted with information from the more informed.


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