Last week Criss Angel aired an unwatchable and unwatched TV special called "Trick'd Up." The 49th most popular show on cable television that evening, Trick'd Up was Criss Angel doing what Criss Angel does best:
- Looking like a budget Nikki Sixx impersonator
- Ruining Banachek's reputation
Here are some of the highlights of the show for those who missed it. Which is all of you.
The show started with Criss tearing MMA fighter Paige VanZant in two to the "dismay" of her "friends."
He doesn't restore her. He just leaves her there. I think this may have been a nod to Richiardi, but it's a confusing way to start the show because we know that he hasn't been arrested for killing Paige VanZant. So essentially the show starts with him demonstrating he's using stooges and phony reactions. And I'd be cool with that. If he came out and said something to the effect of, "These are all actors and this is theatrical magic presented in real world scenarios," that's great and all, but then you can't chop up the video 100 different ways because there's nothing resembling a magic trick left. I'm surprised I have to explain this because it's kind of a fundamental concept of magic on television. I either have to believe it's real people (in which case the editing doesn't matter because I believe in the people's response) or I have to believe this is what it would look like live (in which case it doesn't matter if I think the people are actors because I feel like I'm seeing what I would have seen if I was there myself). But if I believe in neither the people or the presentation you have the world's dullest magic special.
He tries to liven things up with visceral magic. He makes a coin vanish and appear under his skin. He sucks a temporary tattoo of a cockroach off a woman's arm and a cockroach appears in his mouth. He tries to pass off a 4 inch by 18 inch silk as a "napkin" at a restaurant. He swallows it and then pulls it out of his neck. He does an Impaled illusion with a meat kabob sword at one of those Brazilian steakhouses. It all kind of falls flat.
There are a couple nice moments. There's a sequence where he penetrates a "spectator's" watch into a water bottle that looked nice. There's a one-shot transformation of a random dude into Steve Aoki that was decent. There was a cute thing with stuffed animals and a group of sorority girls that would have been much better if it hadn't been shot so poorly.
And for non-fans there was a nice sequence where he was punched in the stomach a lot. (But it wasn't as good as when Blaine did it with Kimbo Slice.)
Always timely, Criss has framed this special as if his crew are the dudes from Jackass (a show from 16 years ago), going around, having fun, causing trouble. But Jackass consisted of real friends genuinely enjoying each other's company. There is zero chemistry in Criss' group. And really no one is given anything to do besides Criss.
If you look at the magic shows on TV today in the US that seem to have some sort of audience (Fool Us, Carbonaro Effect, and AGT) it may be that this style of show is no longer what people are interested in. It certainly felt dated. I'll be interested to see if Blaine can revive or evolve this sort of show (the magician traveling around and showing magic to "real people" in non-theatrical environments) in his upcoming specials.
I think the most compelling show Criss could put on right now is one where he blows up the stuff he's done before. Put on 20 pounds. Stop dying his hair. Be like, "Look, I'm a fucking 50 year old man and I'm tired. I don't want to have to suck on cockroaches to get your attention. I don't need that kind of validation anymore. It's been fun and all, but I've spent 30 years late to the party jumping on trends to try and appeal to you. I'm done with that. In this show you're going to meet the real me and see real magic unlike anything you've ever seen before." And even if this "real" Criss is completely bullshit too, at least this would give him the chance to abandon this rut he's stuck in—this beyond middle-aged man with a goth teen sensibility of darkness. Or just keep doing this nonsense and I'll look forward to the Criss Angel 2Spooky4You show coming soon.