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TV Review-Keith Barry: Extraordinary

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TV Review-Keith Barry: Extraordinary

“This is Extraordinary!” So promised Keith Barry’s magic special on CBS. The show, which showcased mentalism, was most noteworthy for its many Hollywood stars. While the show presented lots of effects that probably left viewers wondering how they were accomplished, the show played somewhat flat.

Second Sight

The first segment offered a second sight effect where Barry was blindfolded and then drove a convertible at high speeds on a curvy mountain road. Two female stars went along for the ride at different times and the segments were intercut into a single one for broadcast. Most of the segment involved shots of the nervous passengers as they reacted to their situation.

Russian Roulette

Most memorable was a Russian Roulette segment featuring Elijah Wood and Rachel Hunter, who risked their hands over a series of mixed-up cones, one of which hid a sharp spike. The blindfolded Barry held the celebrities’ hands and sharply lowered them onto the cones and crushed them. Of course, if Barry were wrong about the spike’s location, the celebrities’ hands would be punctured.

According to Barry, magicians have copied the effect and caused injuries to themselves and others. Criss Angel performed the effect last year on himself in a sushi bar. I’m hoping that magicians won’t try to copy and perform this effect using a spectator’s hands. It’s simply asking too much of the spectator, even when the performer is absolutely, positively sure.


There were lots of prediction effects. Barry produced a pre-written note that stated a scenario created by actor Matthew McConaughey. Barry correctly predicted a creature thought-up by actress Nicollette Sheridan and somehow visualized a childhood incident recalled by singer Jessica Simpson. A piece of artwork hanging in an art gallery was somehow inspired by memories and decisions made by still another spectator. And in another segment, a spectator and Barry randomly scramble Rubiks’ cubes behind their backs, and the cubes are later shown to match.

In a one-million dollar card game against three celebrities, cards are selected by spectators in various ways and turned over and replaced into the deck. Amazingly, the cards all match. There was also a book test style effect that involved a ripped-out and reappearing page. This effect was similar to one that Criss Angel performed last season in his mentalism episode.

Leave Viewers Hanging

The finale was a Russian Roulette-style hanging effect, a giant set piece that was complete with multiple trapdoors, numerous mannequins and masked executioners. One noose breaks away, while the others appear legitimate. The nooses are selected and ordered by randomly chosen spectators. Finally, a randomly selected spectator assigns Barry to a noose.

The executioner pulls a lever and Barry falls, literally saving his neck by somehow causing spectators to have chosen the break-away noose. Strangely, considering the obvious danger, the segment failed to generate lots of tension.

If Barry pulled good ratings, he accomplished his job. But the show is probably going to generate little buzz among the lay public. I don’t anticipate employees hanging around water coolers on Monday morning discussing the special. Criss Angel, on the other hand, produced some 15 episodes of his MINDFREAK last year, and while he had his share of misses, he consistently presented more interesting, conversation-worthy material.

-Wayne N. Kawamoto

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