(Close Window)
Topic: Paul Green's In the Trenches DVD
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Sep 19, 2002 06:34AM)
Anyone who has ever read [i]Jim Sisti's Magic Menu[/i] magazine will be very familiar with Paul Green. From writing his regular column, to performing and lecturing at conventions, to entertaining at trade shows for large corporations, Paul has paid his dues as it were.

Mr. Green is one busy fellow, and the reason is simple, he knows his craft. Through years of perfecting his routines, he has kept what works, and disregarded the rest. That said, his latest offering showcases Paul in action. Chris Smith at MagicSmith was kind enough to send a copy of Paul's new dvd, so I'll give you some of my thoughts.

[b]In the Trenches by Paul Green[/b]


Most of the time, when you go to a concert, the band or artist on stage never quite sounds as good live. There are of course many factors, the venue may not have good acoustics (after all, colosseums were built for sporting events, where good sound is never really an issue, holding large crowds is), the act may be tired after a 50 city tour, or the artist may just not do well in front of a live crowd. On the flip side there are bands who excel on stage, but for one reason or another, appear to sound mediocre in a studio setting. I can think of several bands that qualify.

Paul Green would fit in well with the latter example. He is great to watch live, and really does know how to work an audience. However, to capture that [i]special[/i] essence that is Paul on dvd would seem to be difficult, at least on this offering. Please do not misunderstand me, there is some good material here, but I just wanted you to know you really must see Paul [i]live[/i] if you want to truly experience his charm and wit. ;)

The disc consists of ten effects/routines which follow the [i]performance/description[/i] format. I prefer seeing the entire performance, then the explanations, but that is just me.

The packaging is pretty standard, nothing fancy and does appear to list the effects in a different order then what you will see on your screen. The menu is very simple, but effective. No bells or whistles as it were. The box itself includes a small prop to compliment a routine on the disc, which I think is a nice touch. The prop is a printed sheet, and I would recommend you having several copies of the sheet made at your local copy shop, as it will wear out rather quickly with any kind of regular use.

The footage was shot in multiple locations including The Magic Castle, and of course in the studio for the explanations.

Here is a quick overview of the material itself:

[b]Jeopardy:[/b] My personal favorite, and quite possibly the best routine on the disc. The effect itself is Paul's take on the classic triple prediction, with a twist. It has a good theme that will be familiar to most audiences, and invites spectator participation. I may well use this one myself.

[b]Flying Eagles:[/b] This coin routine is actually pretty cool, and fooled me during the first viewing. I'm more of a card kind of guy, but might consider this one. ;)

[b]2 Copper Silver:[/b] The classic done with the touch of the Green. I thought the use of the little purse was clever in ditching the gaffs, and the routine itself was thought out rather well. Nice thing is, this will also work for those of you who own the Silver, Copper, Brass set with the Chinese coin.

[b]KB/PG Sponge Balls:[/b] This is my second favorite routine. I don't do sponge balls, but this routine did make me reconsider. It has the standard appearances, vanishes, etc and has the touch of cuteness with the addition of some mini-sponges. Very clever.

[b]Mission Impossible:[/b] The theme is kind of cool, you're a spy that finds a signed card in a mini-briefcase. While the idea itself appeals to me, the routine here just is not my style as presented by Paul. Though with a few changes, it could be a real winner for some. Here, like most good magic, presentation is everything.

[b]Above, Beside, or Below:[/b] A nice version of the classic coins across plot. Nothing to write home about, but is an interesting lesson in working with spectators.

[b]Here, There, and Chicago Too:[/b] Two routines that Paul has sewed together into a nice presentation. Nothing spectacular, but is entertaining and very commercial.

[b]Four On the Floor:[/b] This plays well for Paul, but I could not see myself doing it. First, I'm not sure I like the idea of spectators or even myself bending down to pick up cards from the floor. Also, one must drop several cards to the floor, which must land in the face down position. I guess you might substitute a table top? Otherwise, too risky for me.
However, this might just be the ticket for the right person.

[b]Coming Together:[/b] This is along the same lines as Doc Eason's Anniversary Waltz, each side of a card holding a signature. The routine is good, but I just don't care to expose the gimmick, which is the one drawback in Eason's routine as well. Otherwise, good stuff here.

[b]The Rope Routine:[/b] Okay, this is basically Paul's handling of the classic [i]Professor's Nightmare[/i], with a little cut-n-restored rope thrown in for good measure. The routine is interesting, and does have some great moments.
I really like the way Paul has combined a couple ideas, and worked out a cool presentation incorporating them both. Way cool.

My biggest complaint about this disc is not Paul's fault, but is still an issue, at least with me. It is very obvious that only one camera is being used. In certain situations that is fine.
But, as the camera attempts to capture Paul interacting with the audience, I found myself getting motion sickness. This happened frequently as the camera went back and forth from Paul to spectator, from spectator back to Paul, etc.

The editing was okay, though at one point during the performance of [i]Above, Beside, or Below[/i] there was a flash of the coins in Paul's hand. Granted, as a magician I didn't mind, but a layperson who was watching with me (performance only) caught it right away. That is really a moot point, but still...

Thankfully the picture is broadcast quality, and looks like it was shot with a nice Sony, or one of Cannon's XL series of camera's. Either way, nice and sharp as you would expect from a digital source. The sound is also good, no real complaints there.

In conclusion, I would say this offering is pretty good. While there is nothing really revolutionary happening here, there are some well constructed routines that could well fit in perfect for the right person. I know that I'll use at least two myself. Out of ten total, that's not too bad at all. :)

[b]My rating:[/b] [img]images/Reviews/3.gif[/img]

Available through MagicSmith or your favorite dealer.
Suggested retail is $30.00

You can contact Paul Green directly at: paulgreen@earthlink.net
Or visit the MagicSmith site: [url=http://www.magicsmith.com]Click here![/url]