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Terry Harris
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I feel good and bad about the Mindfreak Show. glad to see magic back on tv, but as a live performed neither I nor angel can do most of the effects without camera trickery.
Copperfield exclaimed in the early day "No use of camera trickery on Stage". Naturally that excleded things like the Grand Canyon.
Blaine never said that he didn't use camera trickery. now with Angel , Blaine must feel like the forst liar doesn't stand a chance.
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Quote:
On 2005-07-26 04:45, unilogo wrote:
Joe meant a pretty long show.

Those you are mentioning were nothing more than a couple of minutes.(rand)


Then insert the phrase "any of Mark Wilson's shows." He was the guy who proved magic could be done on TV, and one could gain (and keep) the trust of the audience.

I'm happy to accept Banachek's word that unethical "TV tricks" were not used. I can continue to wish for better editing while still enjoying the show.

*jeep!
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Magicbarry
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I'd like to tip my hat to Banachek and Thomas Wayne (and any others who worked with Angel and who I haven't spotted in the chaos) for stepping into this thread and countering some of the accusations certain people are making. They did some nice work, and then they come here and find that work being dismissed as the work of camera tricks, stooges, etc.

It would be nice if the discussion could have been one in which they were offering insight into the making of the show, the dynamics of their relationship with Angel, etc., rather than one in which they were put in a position of having to defend the credibility of the featured performer and themselves.

So, it bears saying, even if it's already been said: nice work, guys. You got a lot of us thinking with your contributions to the show.
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Quote:
On 2005-07-26 15:22, Magicbarry wrote:
I'd like to tip my hat to Banachek and Thomas Wayne (and any others who worked with Angel and who I haven't spotted in the chaos) for stepping into this thread and countering some of the accusations certain people are making. They did some nice work, and then they come here and find that work being dismissed as the work of camera tricks, stooges, etc.

[...]



During one consult I watched as Criss put the entire production meeting on hold while he studied and practiced a portion of a routine that Bob Kohler (another consultant on the show) created. The routine is pure sleight of hand and NOT easy to do; I had to leave, but I'm quite sure that Criss spent many, many - countless, in fact - hours practicing and rehearsing that routine in preparation for filming.

As far as I'm concerned, Criss Angel is one of the most talented and hard-working guys in the business.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
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MagicbyCarlo
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This thread seems to have become an endless argument between JoeJoe and Randwill.

Randwill has every right to feel cheated by camera edits and stooging, perceived or real.

Remember it was Chris Angel that aimed his advertising and promotion at magicians. We ARE a critical group by nature because we have some insight into the craft and if you are playing to a group of critics you must have A+ material to pass muster.

Although, as I have previously stated, I was entertained by the magic, there are many flaws in this special that most students of magic will recognize, the first flaw is that it was on television in the first place (Viva Live Magic!). Once there is the perception of a contrived moment, a turn from audience view, a guilty gesture, the illusion is broken, the magic is weakened and it becomes a trick or puzzle to be solved. The camera edits have created that feeling for many magicians including Randwill.

To say that because ALL television is edited we should accept patently distracting edits and cuts in magic specials is wrong minded. Magic being suspect to begin with, needs to come across as excessively fair to the mind of a critical television audience. General lay audiences may not notice these things, but critics will, and critics will be quick to point them out.

Since, by advertising on The Magic Café and back cover of Genii Magazine, Chris Angel invited all of the critics to view his special, I don’t find it particularly odd, out of place, or off base to see those criticisms voiced here. The first hour of the Mindfreak series was far from the best magic special I have ever watched, yet I still respect what Chris Angel has done. I have respect for his dedication to our craft and professionalism. Does this mean that I’m satisfied with the finished product? Hardly, in fact at his level, I expect more. Defending this special “just because it is done” and has some merit, does not address the project’s failures. Chris Angel has failed to win over a majority of his most critical and chosen target audience, magicians.

While I believe that there is a polite respect that we do and should share, this campaign to dislodge or invalidate Randwill’s opinions doesn’t make sense. He has valid views and has articulated his reasons for not feeling this special was up-to-snuff. Being fooled badly by one trick does not make a great magic special, nor does the opacity of the methods. A great magic special is one that moves you emotionally into a magical experience. This special did not do that for me and for at least a few other magicians I have spoken with. I was fooled by some of the tricks and could speculate regarding method of those and others, right or wrong, but that’s not what I should be doing. I should be left breathless by the stunning experience, emotionally moved in some way, but I’m not. I’m sorry, this project hasn’t won me over so far and you can defend it all you want, but that is the bottom line for me. I found the experience mediocre, mildly entertaining, and far from profound. I don’t say this to sway those that LOVED Mindfreak or shared in the creative process (you will have your own prejudices), because ultimately you set your own bar for entertainment value; that’s why some people love Wrestling, Fear Factor, and Viva La Bam while others enjoy the Ballet, Symphony and classic literature. In the end it is all a mater of taste and preference.
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Terry Harris
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I don't mean to critize, but the next show I do will want to see the levitation and neither I nor Chris can do it LIVE
MagicbyCarlo
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Quote:
On 2005-07-25 16:10, JoeJoe wrote:

If you really want to judge Chris Angel's show, compare it to say ... The Goti's ... or Dog The Bounty Hunter. Watching spoiled brats complain about their jewerly and fur coats, or a steriodal freak nutcase with an insane girlfriend who herself should be behind bars for her constant assults ... in proper perspecitive, it seems Chris Angel has the BEST show there is - again, great job Chris!

JoeJoe


That's an interesting take on comparative evaluation. Evaluate what you see by comparing it to something worse and base your opinion on that. Whew! I'm not sure that works to determine excellence. Shouldn't you compare it to the highest standard so far and see if it measures up to the highest standard? Also wouldn’t you compare it to other magic specials rather than schlock TV? Why not compare Mindfreak to Law & Order, Medium, Battlestar Galactica, or better yet movies like Blackhawk Down, Million Dollar Baby, or Gladiator? How does it measure up then? My guess is that it gets pushed down the quality scale. JoeJoe, I think in your zeal to defend Mindfreak you have offered comparisons that are horribly flawed.

While the frist two episodes of Mindfreak were better than some of the other television offered these days, it certainly didn't seem to realize it's full potential.
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TheRock
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They are replaying the 1st episode of MindFreak on AE tonight (Tuesday) at 10 pm EST.
the levitator
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What really makes me laugh is the idea that some here have that shows like WGM used NO camera tricks. Anyone who watched the showgirl vanish carefully knows EXACTLY what I mean! I don't seem to remember this much of a commotion then?!? Franz Harary seems to excel at TV illusions and nobody wants his head on the chopping block. Both Lance Burton and David Copperfield performed effects that could only be accomplished on TV for their television specials and we still respect them. Hmmm...all this negative feedback seems to have more to do with Criss' style and appearance than his supposed use of excessive TV effects in my opinion.
"It's all in your head...."



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petersd
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All that I can say is there are some mental midgets posting in this thread!!!! I enjoyed the show and trust Banacheks and Waynes comments. Listening to some of these posts is like listening to a drunk with there vast wisdom which only exists in their minds.

I have never before seen such a jealous group of people. I love magic, although this is the side of magic that makes me sick.

I applaud Criss' work and look forward to his other shows.
MagicbyCarlo
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Quote:
On 2005-07-27 00:18, the levitator wrote:
What really makes me laugh is the idea that some here have that shows like WGM used NO camera tricks. Anyone who watched the showgirl vanish carefully knows EXACTLY what I mean! I don't seem to remember this much of a commotion then?!? Franz Harary seems to excel at TV illusions and nobody wants his head on the chopping block. Both Lance Burton and David Copperfield performed effects that could only be accomplished on TV for their television specials and we still respect them. Hmmm...all this negative feedback seems to have more to do with Criss' style and appearance than his supposed use of excessive TV effects in my opinion.

Let us concede that camera tricks and edits have been used in other specials, it seems however the editing in this special was more distracting and took place during key moments when a continuous shot may have been more appropriate and actually strengthened the magic for the viewing audience. Instead, the editors opted to have a lot of time filler that added nothing to the magic and they chopped the heck out of the effects, leaving the camera work as an explanation for the effects. When camera work and edits are used it is always a distraction to magicians and Blaine was chastised for it, as were Copperfield and Harary. Do you remember the masked magician exposing camera tricks as a method?

No one is calling for Chris Angel’s head. They are just pointing out that the edits detracted from their enjoyment of the magic.

Let’s say you’re right and this is all about Chris Angel’s style (having sifted through the posts I would disagree). So what? Must one approve of someone's style if they find it a negative? What if I find Chris Angel, though interesting to look at, a bore? Does that make my opinion of his special any less valid? Isn’t style a factor? People like or dislike things for different reasons. Personality counts in show business and can be a subject of criticism.
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TheRock
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Quote:
On 2005-07-25 18:42, Randwill wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-07-25 18:12, TheRock wrote:
I admit, I am no body. I just started studying magic within the last few days. As I said, I am a no body. But from every magician I have ever met and talked to, they told me the main reason for doing magic was to entertain. They also told me to be a great magician, you must first be a great entertainer!

Now whether Criss uses edits (on the film) to make something happen, or whether he does it the way MOST magicians would say it should be done, IF IT ENTERTAINS...then what makes the difference on how he accomplishes it!

I have seen 2 of Criss' acts, 'Mind Freak' and another where he was on tv with a bunch of other magicians on tv, and in both of these, I was highly entertained.

Maybe I do not understand how all you magicians feel because I have only been studying this for a few days now. But if it is entertaining, what is the problem with it?

Oh, by the way, I am not accussing Criss (or anyone else) of using edits, but like I said several times already, if it entertains, what is wrong with it?


There are many different entertainment skills and disciplines. When you see a performer on television demonstrating his or her skill, do you care if that performer really possesses that skill? Or are you equally entertained even if the demonstration of the purported skill is compromised by a television production in such a way that it clouds the entertainer's real abilities?


Randwill


I was told their would be a magician on tv, I was told to watch it and that I would be entertained and enjoy it. I and my wife had a few friends over that night to watch it with us (a lawyer friend, a cashier friend, a mechanic friend, a librarian friend, and a doctor friend). After Criss did each trick/illusion on the tv, the first thing that came out of ALL of our mouths was, "WOW HOW DID HE DO THAT?". We never thought or said or even wandered if their were any camera edits, we were all taken in by the illusion/tricks that he presented, and were all in wonder of him.

You see, you are a Magician, and you (and probably a lot of others in this thread) have probably been a Magician for a long time. You watched the show through the eyes of a Magician (yourself), you scrutinized and critised what you saw. Simply because you know how it was done, and you probably already had it in your mind that if it was you, you would have done certain things differently, simply because you feel that the way Criss did or presented them was not entertaining or they lacked in method and/or presintation. Well that is fine! But as I said before, I know nothing of magic (only been studying it now for about 5 or 6 days), so I, my wife, and our friends, viewed this show from a spectators point of view. We were totaly taken in by what Criss Angel did (no matter if he used camera edits or not), we were highly entertained and we enjoyed it tremendously. When the show ended, we all were left in a state of amazement, wander, and awe!!!

Now what I am about to say next, please do not take it personaly or the wrong way, as I do not know you and you do not know me.......... Maybe you and and the rest of the long time magicians in this thread that complain about Criss Angel, David Blaine, David Copperfield, and other magicians, should stop watching other magicians acts on tv (or live in person) through the eyes of a magician. Instead, maybe you should watch them through the eyes of a spectator instead! Because IT IS the SPECTATOR that determines what he/she will like, NOT the magician. The magician has to and must accomidate himself and his act to what the spectator wants, and not what the magician wants for them. There is an old saying that a lot of people in the advertisinng world use and beliEve in religiously (and have written about many of times in lots of different books), and it goes like this...."People WILL buy what people want, and people WON'T buy what they don't want, so we must ALLOW them to think they want what we have to sell". I beleive this is true for magic as well...."People WILL watch what people want to watch, and people WON'T watch what they don't want to watch , so we must allow them to think they want to watch we have to show".

As I said, please don't take it personaly, or let it offend you (or anyone else). As it was not meant too.
Cain
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A lot of magic, especially close-up magic, cannot be transferred to the screen with high fidelity. Fact. Anyone who has ever been captured on video performing an illusion knows this all too well. If I recall Randwill's explanation of the ring trick, I thought it made sense. Mr. Wayne cannot boast that RW was fooled because RW never witnessed the full effect; one can only speculate -- to greater and lesser degrees of confidence -- as to how the effect was generated. In some cases I can read a description of an effect in book and devise a plausible method on how to perform it; however, I can never be certain if my explanation is in fact how the trick is actually demonstrated because there are subtelties that the text cannot capture (and motions that it purposefully omits). Recorded and edited video is subject to similar limitations for similar reasons.

As for my opinion on the special: I didn't like the cuts to the desert scenes with Criss and the woman emoting with the wind blowing against their loose-fitting clothing and long hair. I also think his style is a bit melodramatic. Criss' clothes, for example, look and feel like a costume; even the name "Criss Angel" is rather overdone.

P.S. Lighting himself on fire for his mom's birthday struck me as -- I dunno -- narcissistic. Yeah, you're doin' it for Mom. Then he repeated the same line on least three separate occasions: "I'm gonna be a human candle." Annoying.

P.P.S. Contrary to what may appear harsh criticism, I will watch the next episode. The first two were OK.
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I am not a magician nor do I care to be one--in fact I don't even know any magicians. Let me tell you what a TRUE spectator thought of the Criss Angel show.
At first, I must say, I was fooled. However, as the show continued, I began to get the feeling that I was being duped by camera edits and "stooges" as you call them. The levitation looked so mechanical that it was obvious even to a layman such as myself that something off camera (crane?) was simply lifting him up. By the time I watched hypnotised girl levitating on Fremont street I was laughing at pretty much everything. I happened on the show by mistake and for some reason I kept watching. I am sure I won't watch again.
I only came to this sight because I wanted to know how other magicians felt about this show. After reading only a portion of this thread, I can safely say that most of you were as equally unimpressed as I. Smile
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I've been watched the "results" hit the internet after the first two Criss Angel showed hit the airwaves. Lots of interesting comments and points of view.

I watched the shows in a noisy bar where the Vegas magicians get together on Wednesday nights. It was tough to hear the dialogue.

As part of the creative team I did have previous knowledge of some of what was going on method wise. Obviously this taints my opinions from being pure.

Yesterday I read Richard Kaufman's article in Genii Magazine about Criss, the show and his interview with David Baram. Even being a part of the process, there were many components of the show/process that I didn't fully comprehend.

Richard painstakingly presented a crystal clear view of all of the forces that have brought "Mindfreak" to A&E. This issue of Genii is astounding. I think Richard should be commended for I challenge every magician to read every word. I believe your viewpoints may be altered, mine was.

After reading the issue cover to cover I noticed that the first two shows were being aired again last night. So I watched them again, this time with good sound. But now I was also armed with the "Genii Information."To get a better idea of what A&E is up to I also watched "Dog-The Bounty Hunter" and "Inked". Watching these shows after reading Genii has firmed up what I already believed.

The world has changed in my lifetime. Starting with MTV many years ago "attention span theater" has taken over. Reality shows are #1 on all of the networks. I have access to approximately 400 channels to chose from when making my viewing decision.
A&E has a simple plan. They want to change their viewing audience demographic to the younger crowd from 18-35. The reason is simple, this sector of the population has tremendous buying power of products. This brings advertisers who are willing to pay big bucks to run their ads on channels that have market share for this demographic. As usual, it's money that makes the world go 'round.

A&E's evening line-up is dedicated to attract the young demographic therefore bringing the big advertising budgets to their programming. That's it. The formula is apparent. Strong tags between and during all of the shows. Billboards everywhere, ads on other channels. A&E has put everything behind this line-up.

Their success will be decided by one factor...ratings. Personally, I believe the show will be a success. Not everyone will choose to view these shows but all three shows will be on for 16 weeks. They have time to build an audience base. Keep in mind the two shows are on at least three times per week, Wed., Saturday and Tuesday nights.

I believe that as Richard states in Genii "we're all in the same boat." I couldn't agree more. The history of magic on television has always helped make magic more popular from Mark Wilson to Doug Henning, David Copperfield, David Blaine and now Criss Angel. David Blaine has another special slated for this fall. Perhaps a nice controversy about who's better will cause the population to have "magic on their minds" again. I think it's all good. I also think we all need to get behind Criss' effort. Instead of worrying about method, choice of edit etc. why don't we concentrate on forgetting the bashing and work on promoting the shows.

Working with Criss and his team was an honor for me. What they've pulled off is amazing. 16 shows shot in 10 weeks on a very tight budget. It'never been done before. Many of the top creators and manufacturers chipped in and helped. I can tell you this, I worked with Criss on nine effects. Some will make the final edits, some won't. He works his ass off to "get it right." It's a joy to work with a performer/team that is totally positive and strives hard to bring their dream to the small screen.

From reading some of the posts concerning camera tricks, creative angles/framing, choice of edits etc. I do understand there are a million ways to make changes.
The bottom line is the shows are in the can. The decisions have been made.

Method speculation is always fun. I love to watch magic and attempt to come up with the solutions. I can tell you this, many of the methods actually used on the show that you think are camera "effects" are not.

Case in point, Thomas Wayne and I worked on the "Ring In Ice Cube" effect on the first show. You can take away all of the edits. There was absolutely nothing to see. We're very proud of the ring vanish. It's as clean as they get. I was sorry to see A&E put a graphic over Criss' hand during a critical phase but that's show biz. There is no switch at any time during the routine. That's all I'm going to say about it.

The reason I'm telling you this is because the methods used throughout the 16 episodes are brilliant. Yes, there are sneaky digital techniques used, but when you get fooled don't jump to the conclusion that what fooled you was digital. There's a better chance you really did get fooled by a good method. Look at the list of contributors in Genii. It's one hell of a braintrust. To a man, I believe all of us helped because we knew the world of magic needs an infusion of excitement.

I truly hope "Mindfreak" when all of the dust has settled turns out to be a huge success for Criss, his team and magicians everywhere.

Whew, I know this is long...consider it as my blog.
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MagicbyCarlo
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On 2005-07-27 00:35, petersd wrote:
All that I can say is there are some mental midgets posting in this thread!!!! I enjoyed the show and trust Banacheks and Waynes comments. Listening to some of these posts is like listening to a drunk with there vast wisdom which only exists in their minds.

I have never before seen such a jealous group of people. I love magic, although this is the side of magic that makes me sick.

I applaud Criss' work and look forward to his other shows.

From the articulate nature of your post it apears that you are in good company.

Not all criticism stems from jealousy. This defense has become a common practice of those who support the subject of criticism. In specific cases it may be on point, however to generalize jealousy as a factor is as juvenile and sophomoric as generalized comments like "the show sucked".

The people posting their praise, criticism, or mix of both are a cross section of the market that Chris Angel targeted with his advertising. What they think does matter. If they liked it, they will watch further, if they didn't they will not. Viewership is important to a television show, sponsors want to know that people will be watching or they will not be sponsors long.
Quote:
On Jul 27, 2005 3:30am The Rock wrote:
Now what I am about to say next, please do not take it personaly or the wrong way, as I do not know you and you do not know me.......... Maybe you and and the rest of the long time magicians in this thread that complain about Criss Angel, David Blaine, David Copperfield, and other magicians, should stop watching other magicians acts on tv (or live in person) through the eyes of a magician. Instead, maybe you should watch them through the eyes of a spectator instead! Because IT IS the SPECTATOR that determines what he/she will like, NOT the magician. The magician has to and must accomidate himself and his act to what the spectator wants, and not what the magician wants for them. There is an old saying that a lot of people in the advertisinng world use and beliEve in religiously (and have written about many of times in lots of different books), and it goes like this...."People WILL buy what people want, and people WON'T buy what they don't want, so we must ALLOW them to think they want what we have to sell". I beleive this is true for magic as well...."People WILL watch what people want to watch, and people WON'T watch what they don't want to watch , so we must allow them to think they want to watch we have to show".

As I said, please don't take it personaly, or let it offend you (or anyone else). As it was not meant too.

We all watch magic from wherever we are on the ladder. One of the curses of being a magician is that you watch magic from a different perspective, and once you are there it is impossible to go back. Magicians can be more critical of magic simply because of that perspective.

A magician once criticized me because he knew the method I was using to accomplish an effect. I asked him "But how was the presentation?" He said, "Great, but I know how it was done." I failed to impress him and that was his expectation of the presentation, he wanted to be fooled. Others have focused on the presentation of the effect and been satified, so not even magicians all view magic the same way.

Magicians think differently and as a magician you must realize this. It's one of the reasons I prefer not to perform for magicians. But if you are inviting magicians into your audience pool you have to expect a certain amount of critique.

Those that expect critics to simply go away are rubbing themselves for pleasure in the wrong spot. You can keep working at it, but you’ll never get there. The bottom line is that satisfying to his critics or not, Chris Angel has made a mark on television magic and only viewership will tell if it’s a lasting mark. He has sparked discussion positive and negative, he has generated income for himself and others and has kept magic in the public eye all in all not bad for a greek kid from Long Island.
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Well...I have said all along on this thread that we should be excited for Criss, his opportunity and the chance to see magic on television again. Here is looking forward to what should be a great episode tonight. For those who were snotty about stating they wouldn't watch another episode because they assumed it couldn't get better, give it another shot. Lance Burton hosts the show tonight when Criss attempts to escape from a wine barrel filled with water. Sounds about right...........

Thanks for the post BK. I will make sure to check out that Genii article.
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Amen Brother!
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Quote:
On 2005-07-26 19:32, MagicbyCarlo wrote:
That's an interesting take on comparative evaluation. Evaluate what you see by comparing it to something worse and base your opinion on that. Whew! I'm not sure that works to determine excellence. Shouldn't you compare it to the highest standard so far and see if it measures up to the highest standard? Also wouldn’t you compare it to other magic specials rather than schlock TV? Why not compare Mindfreak to Law & Order, Medium, Battlestar Galactica, or better yet movies like Blackhawk Down, Million Dollar Baby, or Gladiator? How does it measure up then? My guess is that it gets pushed down the quality scale. JoeJoe, I think in your zeal to defend Mindfreak you have offered comparisons that are horribly flawed.

While the frist two episodes of Mindfreak were better than some of the other television offered these days, it certainly didn't seem to realize it's full potential.


I think comparing it to the shows on the same network with similar budgets and time restrictions would be more fair. Perhaps you expected it to be something it was never intended to be? Hmmm...

JoeJoe
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Richard Shippy
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I hope EVERYONE watches TONIGHT on A&E. Tell your friends and coworkers!!! Smile

Kind regards,
Rich
"They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds." ~ Winston Churchill
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