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Wayne Kawamoto

New Season 6, New Criss Angel MindFreak?

By August 19, 2010

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Other than Criss Angel himself, who could have foreseen the longevity and popularity of MindFreak that recently began its sixth season? I can't imagine the work involved in keeping the show fresh and developing its many illusions and stunts. But Criss Angel and his creative team are well up to the task.

I recently received a new episode to watch and can tell you that in season 6, Criss Angel is definitely in good form and still retains his magic touch. The episode that I watched, "Cement Shoes," has Angel, once again, cheating death with a dangerous underwater escape.

As in prior seasons, each show features a theme and is presented as a pseudo reality show. As the episode leads up to the big event there are discussions between Angel and his crew and rehearsals. And there are the usual interviews with experts ("this has never been done before...") and Angel's Mom ("Criss, don't do it..."). And before the show culminates with the big stunt or event, we're treated to some magic along the way. This format has worked well for Angel since season one.

Since he's moved into new digs, Angel's multi-million dollar home, "Serenity," makes numerous appearances. Something new is Angel's positive attitude. "He tells viewers to believe in their dreams - something he professed when he recently made the TV talk show rounds. With a television series and Vegas show, Angel has his hands full, but if he wanted to add motivational speaking to the mix, I'm sure he could.

Angel himself remains much the same. In performance, he's not as talkative and outgoing as most professional entertainers but offers considerable charisma as well as a strong presence. And he has a definite flair for creating drama and excitement.

Is Angel pioneering new territory in season 6? It is undoubtedly difficult to come up with new stunts for the series. The "cement shoes" episode was dramatic as well as entertaining, but it felt like something that I had seen Angel do before (he has performed numerous underwater escapes in the past). In the end, had I not known that this was a new episode, I could have easily been convinced that it was from an earlier season.

Even with a certain sameness in season 6, there's no denying that Criss Angel has built a formidable and successful franchise with a significant fan base. And he continues to appeal to a youthful crowd and make magic relevant to them. This is why I think that Criss Angel remains a positive force for our art of magic.

More Reading:
Criss Angel on the "Tonight Show"
Review of Believe: Starring Criss Angel
Profile: Criss Angel
Interview with Criss Angel
Las Vegas Magic Shows


August 24, 2010 at 5:09 pm
(1) don says:

It’s funny I got burnt out with Criss Angel a few years back… I decided to try to watch again. I have to say the the magic he does with still very well done but I did notice that he now spends so much time building up to the last BIG event that it actually only does 3 or 4 magic tricks in the hour show? I’m guess that he knows that its hard to come up with new effects on a weekly series so he needs to spread them out. I still think he is a great magician, but maybe he need to make his series only 30 mins now? Just a thought…

August 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm
(2) Run says:

I agree with Don, too much filler.

August 25, 2010 at 10:28 am
(3) Joe says:

I agree — too much filler. I also disagree with the overall review here. Season 6, so far, is the worst MF season: too much filler, not as much discussion of history of the effects, OBVIOUS camera tricks (really? — levitating across a pool? or a spinning orb around your house? or a playing card that did the exact same thing as the spinning orb?). So far, I’m really disappointed in season 6.

August 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm
(4) marben29 says:

Todos los magos del mundo hacen trampa. Eso es la magia. Los milagros pasaron a la historia. Pero las trampas de Cris son muy distintas de las que debe de hacer todo buen mago. El soborna a sus espectadores cercanos, el utiliza o mejor dicho mal utiliza las camaras, en realidad sus programas de TV son muy entretenidos y bien logrados, pero no tiene ningun merito magico ya que todo lo consigue con un derroche de dinero. De todas formas lo felicito por su espiritu emprendedor.

August 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm
(5) Levantino says:

Hi Marben

I wholeheartedly agree with your comment that “Whilst the Chris Angel TV programmes are well made, the effects are not ‘magic’ in the artistic sense of the word – they are merely effects that rely on audience bribes and camera tomfoolery and therefore do not have any artistic merit.”

Modern magic deals exclusively with the creation of mental impressions. We cannot perform ‘real’ miracles, as everybody is well aware (although some come pretty close). We can only perform feats which ‘look’ like miracles, because the means whereby they are performed have been skilfully screened from observation by using effective acting and manipulative skill.

The distinguishing characteristic of a legitimate magician is their straightforwardness. They make no false pretences, either by suggestion, implication, or reticence.

I am reminded of the proverb ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time – but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time (attributed to P T Barnum and allegedly said by his friend Abraham Lincoln).

In the case of the producers of Mind Freak I believe the proverb is viewed as a maxim: “You can fool some of the people all of the time and those are the ones you want to concentrate on” – cited by George Bush at a Gridiron Dinner in 2001.


Does what Chris Angel does constitute Art? You tell me.


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