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Topic: Phenomenon Review
Message: Posted by: Kipp Sherry (Feb 15, 2008 10:55PM)
The March 2008 issue had a brutal review of Phenomenon written by Brad Henderson. 15 pages of relived pain, but I think he nailed it.

Hey Brad. If your reading this I have a question for you. The contestant that dropped out, making a slot for Mike Super, did he drop out for the same reason that you did?

Until we appear again,
Kipp Sherry
Message: Posted by: SM41 (Feb 16, 2008 08:09AM)
I didn't knew that Brad dropped out.. ANother thing like that, that you know??
Message: Posted by: Kipp Sherry (Feb 16, 2008 02:00PM)
I know the best way to keep a secret is to write it in a book.
Wanna know a secret? Read it. ;)

Until we appear again,
Kipp Sherry
Message: Posted by: DerZauberer (Feb 16, 2008 05:27PM)
I just finished reading the Phenomenon review by Brad Henderson in March Genii. In a nutshell, Brad conveyed everything that was wrong with the show, format and Criss Angel.

The brutal honesty makes me thank my lucky stars that I was not chosen to be one of the top 10 contestants. Brad also pointed out the blatant hypocrisy of Criss Angel and noted several incidents within the show where he had singled out Jim Callahan and let the other contestants slip by.

Two notable quotes from Bradís article:

[quote]Wait, Mike [Super] play the Dead Dad card, Criss can play the Dead Dad card complete with a sťance. All of this is okay, but you channel one dead guy to tell you what object is hidden in a box and you are reprehensible?

Thatís right. Criss decided to use our national ďtravestyĒ (I think he meant tragedy) for this little stunt, but accused Jim Callahan of taking advantage of peopleís emotions and vulnerability?[/quote]
Message: Posted by: maurermagic (Feb 17, 2008 08:47AM)
The review was right on. Hopefully we will never see another show like this again.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Feb 17, 2008 09:35AM)
I will be purchasing this magazine. It sounds like the article is right on with what many here are the Cafť have said all along :)
Thanks for the information.
Message: Posted by: Kipp Sherry (Feb 19, 2008 12:04PM)
On 2008-02-17 09:47, maurermagic wrote:
The review was right on. Hopefully we will never see another show like this again.
Hopefully we WILL see another show like this again, but this time it will be done right.

Until we appear again,
Kipp Sherry
Message: Posted by: Rich B. (Feb 22, 2008 01:17PM)
I really enjoyed the review by Brad Henderson...I read it twice. I agreed with most of it.

I believe he was a little off base judging how competent the performers really were.

Brad said about Angela Funovitz: " She is at best, an average magician".
From other videos I saw on the web of her interacting with an audience, I can tell she is better than "average". She has some chops and she is quite young. Her performance on Phenomenon was not great because of other reasons that Brad clearly states in the article...not because of her talent. I think Brad is being a little harsh here.

Brad also was pretty critical about Mike Super. I never heard Of Mike before this show. I could tell he was quite comfortable in front of an audience and performs regularly. He was clearly the leader after the first round and a very likable guy. I believe Brad was a little biased toward Mike. I read a post on this forum from Brad that basically stated that Mike Super performs lots of other magicians material in his college shows and he wasn't happy with that. Maybe a bit of that showed in his review.

Which brings us to the next guy, Gerry McCambridge. Anyone one can see he is a polished performer. He has his own Vegas show and had a TV special. Brad bashed Gerry's for performing Kohler's Human Phone Number without permission. As magicians reading a "magic" magazine we need to know all this stuff, and for me was great information. But ethics should not influence Brads review of the performance itself.

Over all Brad's tone regarding most of the performers was very condescending. I give more credit to these guys (and girl) because it was live TV. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for me or other magicians to attempt something like this.

That all being said, I thought the show sucked. In the article, Brad accurately pointed out all the mistakes that were made, and enlightened me on some things that
I missed. It was definitely a more of a magic show. Criss Angel was a poor choice to be a judge, as he felt compelled to promote himself and point out to everyone that "it was just a trick".

The last paragraph of the article really states why the show failed and why Brad decided not to take the gig himself. Here is one line from the article that sums it all up..." The producers controlled the shots, ordered routines to be changed, and forced contestants to perform material that had often been created only a few days before". That is all you really need to know.

This review by Brad Henderson was one of the most enjoyable pieces I have read in Genii in a while. I just think he was a little harsh on the performers given the difficult circumstances.

Rich B.
Message: Posted by: rbattle (Feb 22, 2008 06:41PM)
I agree it was a review that few could have done. I know I could not have watched and of the shows. I tried multiple times but could not do it. It was terrible.
Message: Posted by: revlovejoy (Feb 22, 2008 06:58PM)
I read the article in its entirety as soon as I opened my polybag. I think the segment-by-segment rundown was helpful. I can see where Rich is coming from, in that there seems to be no sympathy at all for the performers who are caught in the producers' mess.

It did reinforce for me, the central problem: confusion. What is mentalism? Define that better and you'll have less magic vs mentalism debate. One might argue that this is really only an issue for insiders to debate, and normally it could be, but Angel's attitude put it at the forefront. Are we supposed to believe in powers on this show, or assume it's all a trick? If the premise was a Randi-style debunking of people trying to pass off supernatural powers, fine then. But from the beginning, I never knew what I was supposed to be looking for. The worst confusing moment was beartrapped-Jeff Goldblum???? What?

All in all, I was certain the winner would be Mike Super. My wife liked him from the start. While I chuckled at the "Dane Cook wants his style back" comment, in all fairness, I don't think he's copping him at all. They are of the same generation, entertaining the same generation. Face it, the upbeat Gen-Y attitude beats the heck out of the Blaine-style Gen-X slacker. (I speak as a confirmed Gen X slacker.)
Message: Posted by: slydini62 (Feb 23, 2008 09:16PM)
I just love Brad Henderson's reviews...thwy are always right on the money!!
Message: Posted by: bugjack (Feb 24, 2008 05:10PM)
I just finished reading Brad Hendersonís lengthy critique of the Phenomenon series in Genii, and I guess I have a different take. First, the good: Henderson is a strong writer and perceptive viewer, and his comments on such issues as scripting, staging and presentational framing are well thought out and, for performers, worth remembering. As for the not so good, well, Iím slightly baffled at the decision to allocate so much space in a monthly magazine to an article 95% of which is simply a descriptive recap of a TV show that ended months ago and which was undoubtedly watched by a huge portion of the Genii readership. I guess Richard Kaufman wanted to make sure such a critical blow-by-blow was recorded for the history books, but within the world of contemporary journalism and media, this is the type of piece that should have been split up into five parts and run weekly on the web the morning after each episode. Thatís when the articleís audience would have shown the most interest. Appearing now, this article feels warmed over as so much of its commentary echoes that which was posted weeks ago on the various internet message boards Henderson occasionally refers to.

As criticism, the bigger problem with the piece is that Henderson is openly dismissive of the Phenomenon concept from the beginning of the article. He admits as much in a ďfull disclosureĒ moment in which he discusses his own decision to refuse an invite to audition for the show. Thatís fine, and I appreciate his insiderís perspective, but, like a TV show (or mentalism routine), a magazine article needs its own internal sense of drama and expectation. After the first thousand words I found reading this piece wearying. The tone never changes, thereís never a moment in which Henderson reconsiders his own assumptions, and he never initiates a bigger discussion about the relationship between mentalism and television that can be developed as the piece continues. Itís just one show description after another, and, as our narrator, Henderson just gets more and more cynical and disinterested as the article rolls on.

Iím not arguing that Phenomenon deserves a more favorable review than this. The show did suck. And, like I said, I appreciate Hendersonís more critical eye on the routines of the performers, especially the ones who sailed through the series by virtue of charisma and stage energy. (I also regularly appreciate Henderson's take-no-prisoners product reviews for the magazines.) But this piece should have been a lot shorter and much more focused on the big picture conclusions that can be drawn from the Phenomenon fiasco as opposed to devoting so much space on a simple recount of what went down each week.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Feb 26, 2008 07:13PM)
I'm still waiting for my copy!!!!!
Message: Posted by: psychic (Feb 28, 2008 11:59AM)
Revlovejoy got it right, we need really to define the terms of reference for what mentalism is. Sad, V1 was a failure. They shd have just asked Uri and perhpas Kreskin to be the judge. Either one is going to be more mature, level headed and understands professionalism than the wimpish guy who colors his nails black.
Message: Posted by: Jim-Callahan (Feb 29, 2008 08:15PM)
I like Brads take on the show and only have one big problem with it.

But you guys would not care anyway or possibly understand so why go into it.

Message: Posted by: Kipp Sherry (Feb 29, 2008 08:55PM)

Don't be so sure. Most of us here only saw what the media wanted us to see. I for one would love to hear your insiders view.

Until we appear again,
Kipp Sherry
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Mar 3, 2008 07:44AM)
I like how Brad pointed out that only Mike Super totally botched an effect...OOPS!
Message: Posted by: edh (Mar 3, 2008 04:16PM)
Slim, didn't Angela Funovits(sp) botch an effect? I think she did. Unless of course you didn't notice.
Message: Posted by: Kipp Sherry (Mar 3, 2008 07:55PM)
Slim was watching her legs as the dresses got shorter.
It was a subliminal message really.

Until we appear again,
Kipp Sherry

Day 3
Message: Posted by: bsears (Apr 5, 2008 10:28AM)
This was one of the best (and funniest) pieces I've read in months. Brad nailed it. Writing likes this is so important for keeping things real in our little magic world. Thanks Brad.