Eight years have gone by since their last special and its great to have the bad boys of magic back on network television. The show may not have been as good as their Dont Try This at Home special from some years back, and it was subdued compared to their work on Showtime-this is, after all, network television. But the pair created an entertaining two-hour special.
Off the Deep End was classic Penn & Teller with a water theme. Throughout, the pair fooled the audience with illusions and then showed how they did them-everyone gets in on the secret and didnt we all have fun. Illusionists will be most angered by the show as it exposed a method for metamorphosis as well as a stage production. There were also some edgy takes on classic tricks that werent exposed and hilarious setups where audience members were turned into suckers.
The pair performed a cut and restored air hose effect, a variation of the classic rope trick. Under water, Penn cut a divers air hose and Teller restored it. And the effect was complete with air bubbles that spew from the cut hose.
Born Every Minute
Sucker sequences included a do as I do with hydrostatic glass that caused spectators to dump their drinks. Miss Bahama reacted when she thinks that her ring was swallowed by a dolphin. There was a segment where Penn taught a simple card trick to set up a spectator for a scare. And in another, spectators were led to believe that Teller was fed to some sharks.
In one segment, the pair created the ultimate card index. The hilarious premise here was that all 52 playing cards were set up in interesting ways on a beach to be revealed. Penn opened his coat for one card, two kids in the water held up their rafts to form a card, a sunbather turned around with a card painted on her back, cards were found inside of a potted plant and cocoanut and lots more.
In the shows finale, Penn & Teller made an 80-ton submarine disappear in a mysterious and convincing way. And the secret, which they exposed with the shows end credits was clever and expensive.
Making a Splash
With their ongoing show at Las Vegas Rio and their excellent Bulls**t series on Showtime (its practically a public service), its hard to imagine how the pair found time to produce a two-hour special. These guys are among the hardest working performers in magic and they continue to come up with innovative ideas.
Many magicians will be angered by the exposure. On the other hand, any time that magic entertainment is shown on television, it keeps it in the minds of lay people, which is a good thing. In the end, Penn & Teller created an entertaining two-hour special.
-Wayne N. Kawamoto