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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Has Derren lost it? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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teejay
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Derren Brown is absolutely brilliant but isn't there a 'rule' about not repeating the effect (for the same audience)? I've been caught doing this.
Smile Smile Smile
E-Leoni
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So Shrink,

You don't think that maybe some of David Blaine might have rubbed off on D. Brown?

E-Leoni.
grazza
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I've been a fan of Derren's since I saw him working as a magician a number of years ago. However, I have to agree with a number of the posts that have pointed at his recent TV series as being somewhat repetitive and dare I say 'boring'.

This isn't purely from my view as a magician, but from comments that have come from many laymen. The problem seems to be that Derren's TV work suffers from being 'too perfect'...despite his attempts to provide the audience with an apparently plausible explanation.

The majority of the public enjoys magic because they like being deceived....and like to try and 'work out' how it was done. Derren's TV specials are too impossible, which leave people to conclude that he simply uses stooges. That doesn't make for an exciting show.

That said...a number of other people I've spoken to seem to be completely suckered by his false explanations (even a number of magicians) and really enjoy watching it. Seems they get a buzz out of spotting his secret codes and ability to read people's faces to determine their pin numbers....

Reminds me a little of Uri Geller in the 70s
shrink
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Quote:
On 2003-03-26 19:31, E-Leoni wrote:
So Shrink,

You don't think that maybe some of David Blaine might have rubbed off on D.Brown?

E-Leoni.

It's not that Blaine has rubbed of on Derren, I think if you rub Derren you'll find Blaine under a few layers of skin! After all, he has been a magician for years.

I think he is just running out of ideas, especially mentalism presentations of the calibre he started with.

I do think he could learn from Blaine though!
Just one good show now and again instead of over exposing himself. Smile

I guess he has been presented with the opportunity to make some good cash. Who can blame him? That's the thing about success, you don't know how long it will last so you have to milk it while it's still around.

I have heard of a Russian roulette effect in one of his specials to be filmed later this year. Sounds like he's getting further way from the mentalism routines he started with and closer to mental magic.
teejay
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"Repetitive and somewhat boring" (see above)
I know that some of of you haven't and cannot watch the TV series. Perhaps I can help a bit.

The general opinion I hear from laypeople and 'players' (and me) is that DB is fantastic. BUT the full show (4) has been repeated twice with so called added bits. Some people may fall for this added bits hype but this may be because of the time delay between watching the shows. I taped them all and I can't spot any added bits. Perhaps a few extra moments in between effects and a few extra seconds at the beginning and end of the effects, but no new effects. Then highlights from them were shown in 2 other shows.

But all of the pre show press and TV ads for the present run say that each is a 'New' show. Is it any wonder that people are thinking that all his stuff is much of a muchness? Derren is brilliant, but enough is enough. Even of the best.
Ian Rowland
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I would answer the original question with an emphatic "NO!".

Let's try to clarify some points. First, Derren Brown is a superbly gifted and experienced magician and mentalist, and he has years and years of success ahead of him. The 'Mr Mind Control' character was devised by Andrew O'Connor at Objective Productions, and (after Andy Nyman turned it down) Derren quite rightly got the gig. In the MC shows, he is playing a part, much as Alan Davies 'plays' Jonathan Creek. There are some similarities between 'Derren Brown' and 'Mr Mind Control', which is why it is such good casting, but there are also many differences. For one thing, Derren is one heck of a lot wittier and funnier in real life. So that's point #1: even IF there is limited mileage in the MC shows, the same limitation does not necessarily apply to Derren. He can go on to show other aspects of his talent.

Secondly, the point about 'repetition' carries little weight. Everything is 'repetitive' if you apply a sufficiently superficial level of analysis and appreciation. Most TV cop shows and sitcoms and soaps re-use the same formulae endlessly. When Steve Cohen performed in London, among the very good write-ups were one or two rather dim critics who made comments about the 'sameyness' of mind reading acts. Do these people ever complain that all rock music is built around the same chord progressions? Or that most comedians tell gags about relationships? No, they don't, because to focus on the 'sameyness' is to miss the point. The 'Mr Mind Control' character explores a wide variety of effects within the domain of mentalism and related areas, and does so superbly. There is plenty of mileage in the series yet.

The MC shows are a team effort, and it's a very high quality team delivering some of the finest televised mentalism we have ever seen. There have been many MC sequences which have thrilled me with their ingenuity, audacity and entertainment value. I believe there are many more pearls to come, and it will be a shame if they get cast before swine. Any team that can come up with the grand and glorious 'Advertising Agency' scam aren't going to run out of ideas any time soon!

Re: the inclusion of themes like 'pickpocketing', it's a double-bind. If the MC team doesn't broaden their remit in this way, they get slated for 'sameyness' and lack of variety/new ideas. If they do, people say "but it's not mentalism". If this is the level of criticism on offer, ignoring it is the best and only thing to do.

As for 'exposure', ha! If anyone thinks DB or the MC series is guilty of exposure, the only thing being exposed is how little they know about what's actually going on in the show.
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
Martin Pulman
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Well, he exposed the Princess Card Trick for a start.
shrink
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Quote:
Secondly, the point about 'repetition' carries little weight. Everything is 'repetitive' if you apply a sufficiently superficial level of analysis and appreciation. Most TV cop shows and sitcoms and soaps re-use the same formulae endlessly. When Steve Cohen performed in London, among the very good write-ups were one or two rather dim critics who made comments about the 'sameyness' of mind reading acts. Do these people ever complain that all rock music is built around the same chord progressions? Or that most comedians tell gags about relationships? No, they don't, because to focus on the 'sameyness' is to miss the point. The 'Mr Mind Control' character explores a wide variety of effects within the domain of mentalism and related areas, and does so superbly. There is plenty of mileage in the series yet.


Not only repetition of mind reading, actual repetition of the actual footage. The very same filmed sequences must have at least been repeated four times by now! This is one way to turn public off you. Your logic in comparing music or cop shows and sitcoms with mentalism seems pointless. Music and cop shows elicit completely different mental and emotional states that address a completely different need in the general population. I can listen to a song for the 100th time and still get the pleasurable states associated with it. However, it's becoming like work to sit through another repeat showing of MC.

For example, when doing hypnosis shows on the club circuit I was making two, sometimes three times the amount of money for a gig compared to a band. No matter how good the shows were, clubs might ask me back once more, twice, if I was lucky. Bands can play at these clubs week in week out because they fufill a different need. You just can't compare these different art forms.

I agree with just about everything you say about Derren. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him but believe what you say is true.

However, if he continues with the recent format of mixing old with new and continuously repeating, I fear he will not do himself any favours and that familiarity will indeed breed contempt.

While personally I don't mind being totally blown away by seeing his other talents, I really hope he doesn't become another Paul Daniels, Tommy Cooper or David Nixon.

Also, his initial success was built upon the show's ability to create really convincing mentalism. Moving more into magic will negate the earlier work as a previous poster has pointed out. If he does go down that road then, in a way, he has lost it.

He has also, at the moment, lost the initial impact he had and freshness. I just wish they wouldn't repeat his shows so much. It really isn't doing him any favours.

Critics aren't the only dimwits, it seems. The majority of people would say the same about the sameness of mind reading. That's why we don't have mentalist shows running alongside cop shows or sitcoms. No matter how much we love playing around with effects, the general public doesn't feel the same, with the exception of psychic readings perhaps.
mystic1
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So, Mr. Rowland, just what *would* constitute exposing by Mr. Brown or anyone else? I'm always interested in *your* thoughts about exposure.
Winston Smith
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Endless repeats are a nuisance. I suspect though, this was out of Derren's control the moment the series had been shot. Most of the public would see it once, maybe twice and not bat an eyelid. Others sit impatiently wondering what the team is going to come up with next so that they can boast to the friends at their local club that they 'know how it's done - it's easy'.

If anybody watched the series on E4 first then you only have yourselves to blame Smile

Remember that the intended audience's perception is going to be a lot different than that of the amateur magician who sits on the sofa scratching his head wondering how it's all done.

Be thankful you're not in the US. The shows would probably have been repeated at least once a week for about 12 weeks.

Although Ian is a known friend of Derren's and this is bound to color his views, I'd have to say in this case I'd be inclined to agree with him. Darn it.

-- ws
kuffs
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I agree with Mr. Rowland also. And for the exposure of routines like the Princess Card Trick, well look at all the web sites that have a poor version of the princess. This is the same. No, it's worse on the internet.

He used the routine to explain a point and did well in this optics.

My final thought on this is I have done many years on TV and the Mind Control show is one of the best productions I have had the chance to see.

And if Mr. Brown, when doing the his TV show, had some fun, the rest is not really important.

Humbly

Kuffs
Greg Arce
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I've seen two of the Mind Control shows and I wish I could have copies so I can watch them daily. I'm from the group that will watch the same great movie, or read the same great book, or sit through the same great show, or listen to the same great song, or watch someone like Derren over and over and over, ad infinitum...
I loved the thinking that went into those shows and I only wish I could get my hands on all the Mind Control shows.
Just my opinion.
Greg
One of my favorite quotes: "A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
grazza
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Let me clarify slightly on my point of repetition.

I was trying to put across the view expressed to me by a number of my friends who are not magicians.

Many of them believe that Derren really can read minds. Some have fallen for his explanations of NLP, psychology, etc.

The problem is that once they have bought into this concept the magic is no longer interesting. Wow, the man can read minds. But once they've seen him do it 20 times, it is no longer interesting. For them, they have lost the intrigue of trying to work out the method.

This is the concept of a trick being too perfect.

If the audience truly believes you have magical powers then watching you use them over and over becomes boring after a while.

For magicians it is different. Magicians don't believe Derren has super-natural powers (well most of them!). They look for the different methods used to achieve the same effects and it is this that provides the intrigue.
Winston Smith
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Quote:
If the audience truly believes you have magical powers then watching you use them over and over becomes boring after a while.


Up to the the 5th line you made sense Smile

Uri Geller still gets asked to bend spoons, and although he has done other things such as drawing duplications, it's the spoon bend people tend to want to see. According to your theory, people are guaranteed to be bored with bending spoons after nearly 30 years. Shouldn't they be?

Don't apply the "too perfect" theory too rigourously. It will inevitably lead to less than perfect shows Smile The only people I ever hear say "it's too perfect" are magicians and mentalists. BTW, there is a difference, IMO, between "too perfect" and "unbelievable," although sometimes the two might seem to cross, creating the confusion. Once you realize this, being too perfect shouldn't worry you.

Adopt a model for your abilities, be consistent, adapt and work with it.

Quote:
For magicians it is different. Magicians don't believe Derren has super-natural powers (well most of them!).


Most that I know bought into it. Of course they'll keep embarrassing secrets like that quiet nowadays Smile

-- Winston
grazza
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Hi Winston,

Thanks for your comments. I agree with you in the main part, however, I think that maybe there is a subtle difference in the 'too perfect' concept when it comes to TV, as opposed to live performances.

The problem with 'too perfect' tricks on TV is that a modern audience will just put the effect down to a camera trick or stooge (if they don't believe in real magic, that is;) ).

When performed live this problem is partly removed.

Just a quick thought on the Uri Geller front:

He still gets asked to bend spoons when people see him in person because this is entirely different from seeing it on TV. Seeing his "powers" first hand is a new experience.

The days of Geller performing spoon bends on TV are long gone. Could this be that it is no longer interesting to the general public at large after he received enormous exposure in the late 70s/early 80s?
Ian Rowland
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Quote:
On 2003-03-27 19:39, shrink wrote:
Not only repetition of mind reading, actual repetition of the actual footage. The very same filmed sequences must have at least been repeated four times by now!

Yes, you make a fair distinction, and I should have been clearer.

As regards the recycling of TV footage, this obviously has little to do with the original question and I doubt Derren had much say in the matter. The original three 1 hour MC specials were expensive to produce, and I guess Channel 4 just wants to get as much value out of the work as they can.

I think it's also true to say that both Objective and Ch 4 recognize that it takes time to build a 'brand' of this kind (whether we think of the brand in this case as 'Derren Brown' or 'Mind Control'). They know that not everyone in the target market caught on to the MC programs first time round, and sometimes you need an element of repetition over time to develop awareness. It might not be satisfying to us, because we're magic nuts and we made darn sure we caught it all first time round! But for 'normal' people, the repetition will be less jarring.

There's another factor. With the first two MC shows, there was very little by way of ancillary promo activity (chat shows, press articles, etc.). When the time came to do the third show, the producers took a much more active and determined role to optimize the PR exposure, which led to DB appearing on many more TV shows and in the press (including THAT legendary Daily Mirror piece!). Having raised DB's profile, it made sense to recycle the first 2 shows because this time DB was better-known and many muggles would have been interested in seeing shows they missed or overlooked first time around.

The current series is a compromise. Perhaps it wasn't practical to shoot 6 new half hours, for various reasons, but 'some new' is better than 'no new', and I for one love many of the new sequences. My favourite Mind Control segment to date is the glorious Ad Agency 'Animal Heaven' scam from MC2, but the whole casino segment from the current series struck me as a close second favourite for its sheer audacity and the multi-level nature of the scam.
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
shrink
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Quote:
On 2003-03-28 13:33, Ian Rowland wrote:

The current series is a compromise. Perhaps it wasn't practical to shoot 6 new half My favourite Mind Control segment to date is the glorious Ad Agency 'Animal Heaven' scam from MC2, but the whole casino segment from the current series struck me as a close second favourite for its sheer audacity and the multi-level nature of the scam.


You may have a point about channel Four. I just think they would've been better keeping the new and old stuff separate.

As for the Casino segment, yes, I thought it was brilliant. Not being into cards, I have no clue how he did the effects, and once again his presentation was spot on. The only criticism I would have would be with the editing of the black jack scene. Obviously Derren wasn't winning every hand, but the editing didn't give you a sense of that. It just showed you a series of wins one after the other. I think that scene would've been more powerful if they had managed to get that over in the editing. However, the rest of the casino segment was sheer brilliance.
DavyBoy
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I think Derren is astute enough to know when something has run its course. Take his 'Devil's Picture Book' video as an example. It contains many great card tricks and effects that he doesn't perform any more!
'Oil & Water leaves me cold,' I think he says on the tape after a flawless rendition.
So Derren knows for himself when something has had too much mileage, I'm sure.

DavyBoy. Smile
Greg Arce
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I get it... so when the audience believes you are the real thing they no longer want to watch. Hmm? Curious, how John Edward and Van Praagh seem to have a show. And people watch it over and over.
Hmm? Just wondering.
Greg
One of my favorite quotes: "A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
kuffs
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A vote for the casino scene also...WOW!!!

This is presentation at its best.

Humbly

Kuffs
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