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Roslyn
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Yes ladies and gents there's a new magic show from the makers of the Derren Brown series and Monkey Magic starting tonight.

Dirty Tricks has studio based stuff combined with outside filming and starts 10:30pm.

I've put this in here because alongside the regular magic the show also contains some crazy escape stuff that most of you guys and gals in here should really enjoy.

I'll be tuning in, so for those that can't watch it I'll post a quick review.

Take care,

Ros
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KerryJK
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The show as a whole had some good moments, some bad, but re. the escape bit..

Oh dear, escape goes Jackass. One "Extreme Jonathan" presenting camcorder shot footage from his bedroom, attempting to escape from being tied to a bed (with cheap clothesline) underneath a hot iron burning through a sheet. It inevitably went wrong, he got burnt and presented progressive 'after' shots of the burn, which wasn't helped by the great tit coating it with bacon fat beforehand as a result of his chosen way of demonstrating that the iron was hot (he proved it was hot by frying a piece of bacon on it. Only, as this was tungsten lit camcorder footage, the visual effect of this was zero, we just got to hear a sad sizzling sound). "You're a nutter", said his Dad, who helped him with the stunt. Not quite the word that came to my mind, but at least dear old Dad offers a clue about who's been encouraging this feckless goon all this time. Yet another warning for those who confuse shock performance with looking like a desperate moron.

Is this the same Jonathan for whom David Straightjacket did that consultancy gig he told us about a couple of years back? (the mid-winter underwater escape done in "record time" because the berk didn't think the water would be cold and couldn't be arsed practicing). I remember looking him up at the time and finding his "shock" hypnotism act, boasts of being kicked off chat shows and rotten vanity projects, and this turd carries all of his hallmarks.

Actually it's a pity they didn't book David for this, he'd have fitted the show format perfectly and could have shown how extreme escapology is meant to be done.
Roslyn
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Hi all,

I have to agree with Helen that the show on the whole was pretty good. I always try to judge how good a show is by the reactions of my girlfriend, who has about as much interest in magic as a newt does in ice skatting. So if it keeps her attention, which it did, they must have done something right.

I have to disagree with Helen's thoughts on the escape though. Sorry Helen. I actually thought it was nice to see something different to the usual stuff that's presented as an escape.

It had all the elements that make up an escape and any magic routine for that matter. Jonathon was restrained (kind of a given), it wasn't done under cover or behind a screen, it used everyday objects that the audience are familiar with and there was the "if it goes wrong" danger element.

It did go slightly wrong. He managed to get out of the ropes, but didn't get out in time to miss the iron. I thought that to an audience member this reinforced the fact that what was being presented was real. Since this is number one in the series I feel that when people tune in next week for the escape bit they will know that these things don't work all the time. This builds tension across the airwaves, which I imagin to be far more difficult than doing it in a live environment. On the whole I thought the idea had a lot of positives.

Now for the girlfriend test. She said: "I thought the show overall had some good points but parts were lame... I thought the [escape] bit was the best bit."

So going on my non-scientific, audience servey of 1. The escape was a success. It entertained.

Ros
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Having had a night to sleep on it and cool down, I'm regretting maybe being a little harsh in the choice of words in my last post, however my basic view remains. That escape section actually made me lose my temper, which is why my post was a bit more acerbic than normal (I do usually try to find the best in people, and hope people do the same for me).

Anyway, the reason why the segment made me angry is because it stood against everything that I (and indeed everyone here, including you, Ros) have worked so long and hard to perfect, and even if viewed as a piece of masochistic performance art it was deeply flawed. Put simply, there was nothing there to make me respect the guy on any level, and quite a lot to make me see this as the worst possible advert for what we do. It's certainly not the sort of thing that I like to see encouraged by national television exposure, though it does admittedly have precedent in the forms of MTV's "Jackass" and it's clones and the "Backyard Wrestling" culture (what the pro-wrestling industry thinks of the backyard mob and their untrained dangerous idiocy is pretty close to how I feel about this escape stunt).

The first thing I was ever told about escape performance was to never leave anything to chance and pretty much everything we work at when planning an escape or any other kind of stunt is to be in control of the risks and to eliminate them where possible. Some things look dangerous but are actually very safe, which is the best of all worlds. Some look dangerous because they really are dangerous, in which cases anyone who doesn't give the risk their full respect is a fool. The third category has no place in any kind of performance, and that is things that are dangerous but don't look it. Basically, we're talking risk/return ratio here.

Now to examine Mr. Jonathan's plan with this in mind; I saw no examples of the first category (unless he was being really subtle, which unfortunately I doubt), a number in the second (in each of these cases he put no effort at all into respecting the danger) and a few examples of the third.

The one thing he did right is what you mentioned; he had a new innovative concept using recognisable objects and a danger element, but his way of going about executing it stunk. If I was going to attempt this the first thing I'd do is BURN TEST THE SHEET. It doesn't take a genius to know that a cotton bedsheet is thin and will only support a heavy iron for a few seconds at most, so try something thicker. Maybe try making the sheet damp at the outset. Either way, KNOW HOW LONG YOU'VE GOT. The fact of the iron burning through is in the middle "neccesary risk" category, so should be properly researched in advance. Joe Burrus' failure to test the simple fact of whether his coffin lid could support the weight of all the cement he planned to put on top of it had notorious consequences.

Incidentally, this whole thing could have been made safe (or at least safer; the iron would still have bounced) by a simple step, had he seen it at the conceptual stage (or, God forbid, actually tried it through beforehand). There were three cameras; one above the sheet below which he was tied, one looking into the bed and one front camera. With all of these, there was no point at which both he and the iron could be seen in line at the same time, so to save himself a dangerous and disfiguring burn (even if he was looking for the scar as a badge of courage, burns are without a doubt the least sexy scar you can get yourself, especially when they're in the shape of a household iron) all he had to do was clue up his Dad to put the iron a few inches to the left. No-one could ever have noticed this detail from the camera views presented, and when it burned through it would have missed him. If he'd managed to get one arm free (as proved to be the case) he could sell the escape as a success having done enough to evade the danger. The worst thing that could happen is he'd fail to escape at all only to have the iron fall harmlessly to his side, but as there's no live audience, he could just do another take. Either way, he'd survive. I don't believe this is unfair use of camera trickery; angles are a part of the art of illusion and have been from the beginning.

The bacon thing was the crowning glory. He wanted to prove the iron was hot in a spectacular way, so he had his Dad fry a piece of bacon on it. Nice idea, except that there is little to no actual spectacle to be had from placing a slab of meat on a hot surface for a few seconds, certainly none that a cheap camcorder under home lighting will register, leaving only the slight sizzling sound to act as evidence. He'd have done far better by, for example, pouring a glass of water down the iron producing a cloud of steam; as it was, he succeeded mostly in coating the iron with bacon fat, risking (and ultimately getting) a worse burn than he would have otherwise. No mention was made of this either, which pushes it firmly into the third category of unneccesary and unexploited risk.

I shudder to think what he'll show us in future episodes, and what other terrible injuries he will needlessly risk in so doing. Anyone inspired to directly follow his example would do well to reflect on the example of the late Mr. Burrus in his concrete tomb and how he is not remembered as a hero for having died that way.
Roslyn
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Just found this link to a review by Times Online. Enjoy.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/a......,00.html

Ros
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KerryJK
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Update; in response to what I will freely confess was a savage attack by myself, I just received a lovely PM from Jonathan Goodwin assuring me that the escape was indeed planned properly. Though he didn't go into detail on the specific concerns I expressed, I am very impressed with the classiness and professionalism displayed by his response and will look in fresh light on what else he does in the series. I said before that he hadn't given me reason to respect him; well, now he has.

The review Roz posted seems to indicate the piece was a success in terms of getting a positive reaction, if Mr. Goodwin is indeed more subtle than I gave him credit for it could be that my own vitriolic reaction was just part of the intended response.
KerryJK
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Update to the update; on watching back the tape and giving this some more thought in this fresh light, I am increasing of the realisation that I have, indeed, been had. If so, I take it all back, it was actually a very subtle and well executed piece. And score one to Roz for getting it right away.
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Helen, you do relise that you're gonne end up begging Jonathon to marry you yeah?
Or maybe even Ros?!
Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
Roslyn
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So week 2 of Dirty Tricks.

Any thoughts on the escape?

Personnally I love using wheely bins for underwater stuff and I really enjoyed Jonathan's version of it.

Ros
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KerryJK
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Yep, this week's escape was ace. Excellent set-up and execution, and I'm getting into his character a lot more.

The show as a whole is looking good too; the perfect thing to move televised magic back from the Blaine influenced hidden camera street magic fad that TV companies have seemed so wedded to in the last few years. Yay, proper performance is cool again! Smile
The Donster
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Ros get Married to someone else I beleive Ros is already spoken for.
EscapeMaster
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What??
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Hi, has anyone got a copy of this on video or DVD that they could post me??

please pm me.

Ian
cupmagic
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SAme here deeply intersted in this video...Pls pm me ..

Thanks a million

Cupmagic
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I thought the escape artist was quite funny, in a good way. I like the fact that he uses his dad to assist him with the escapes. Was he the young boy on the kids documentary The Lowdown (which aired possibly 15yrs ago), who had an act involving large homemade sissors. Does anybody know?
Roslyn
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Hi, no I don't think its the same guy.

I think his name is something like Kelan or Kieran(?) Laser (not sure of the first name).

The guy doing the escapes on Dirty Tricks is Jonathan Goodwin.

Did anyone catch this weeks?

Also, I'm interested in what people think about escapes that are being put out on US TV by the likes of Chris Angel and how they compare with what's being produced here in the UK.

Which style, if any, do you prefer? If neither of these is your cup of tea what would you rather see?

Cheers,

Ros
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Mick Hanzlik
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The guy with the scissors is Keelan Laser. I think he won a major competition way back and as far as I know he is still into magic.

Now...Dirty tricks.

If you missed it, Jonathan did an "underwater" escape in his house! He hung upside down by his legs on the frame of a child's swing. A large plastic storage box was filled with water (and fish!) and his head was jammed into a hole made in the lid, and sealed there with duct tape. Hands fastened with barbed wire, and then locked to a chain "belt"

He went into the water, lid clipped in place, and he had to escape by freeing his hands and then unclipping the lid.

It all went well. His dad did a great job as assistant.

Incidentally, Jonathan made the national papers on Sunday. He's currently filming a special called "The seven most Stupidest things to Ecape from", and he had an accident when escaping from a zip line. Either broke or fractured 2 bones in his foot. The story goes that he still had one more escape to complete the show, so he devised an escape from his wheel chair!

Mick Hanzlik
Kondini
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OK looks like Im the odd one out here.
I find this type of presentation to magic and escapes rather tame, it`s been done before proberly will be done again and again but as a one off OK but to milk the cow dry will result in the content getting thinner and thinner (This happened to the other magic shows of the type and will happen to this one.TV eats material up faster than you can devise it.

The use of camera tech to hide!!!! Will do nothing other than fool the very people useing it.
The camera useage was timed well!!

As to the escapes.

No drama,no stage wait,no biuld..all the basics of escape performance missing.
Big buck TV can only afford a plastic box or a wheelie bin! Props cheap and cheerfull are OK for the street magician but as a TV presentation!

None of my comments are directed to the performers involved,they should have been under the direction of people who know better.

The audience looked well hyped up before curtain drop, and with some of the language used (Which added nothing to the overall presentation)I feel the oportunity to offer a great magical entertainment at a good time slot has been bungled.

These are my personal views, I am only one person OK.

Ken.
Roslyn
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Some interesting thoughts there Ken, and I agree with most of what you have said.

I have to say that personnally I prefer the way that the escapes have been performed in Dirty Tricks to those in other TV shows. Most recent escapes on TV have been the usual SJ, handcuff type stuff. Even Soloman's approach to it (he did an escape special a while back here in the UK) was an attempt to do the street magic, David Blaine style of performing but using escapes rather than magic tricks. All old hat and done to death.

The approach in DT I feel is a little different. Using props that the aud can identify with is always a nice touch. As is the story that is being used (Jonathan is meant to be making these escapes at home with a camcorder and then sending them in to the show, so low tech is key to selling this story). I think that's quite nice.

I'm not saying that the classics shouldn't be performed. Far from it in fact. But they should be treated as such, classics. Just like the linking rings is to a magi, the sj is to an ea.

Maybe its because I'm relitivly young and new to escapes and I'm still searching to make my mark. I don't know. But I prefer where British TV escapes are going compared to what I've seen done in the US.

But then, I don't have an escape special. Those that do must be doing something right, whichever style they adopt.

Ros
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Kondini
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As I said Ros that is my feelings only, being of differing opinion is what makes the entertainment industry so interesting.
Yes you have youth on your side,,,,,,I remember taking a sim view when seeing David Williamson take part in an identical series,,,,way back now,so there is nothing new here,wait long enough and it will be back in fashion sooner or later.I just think that making escape props in the kitchen would be more fitting to Blue Peter not an adult prime spot,and presenting escapes in this way beneath the true value of our art,,,there are many better escape acts starving right now than those shown on the box. What many fail to realise is that a goodly number of top notch entertainers wouldn`t touch TV work with a barge pole,,,one would have to be in the know!!!! to see why!

We must not judge quality by what is forced upon us by the media.

I may be well out of line here but I thinks what I thinks,,,,,and anyway Im an old man,,,,,Steve Baker is my Grandad so now you know Im old!!!.

Ken.
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