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From the average home-viewer's point of view, Off the Deep End was
another special from the Bad Boys of Magic, this time set in front of a
beautiful tropical island background. From a magician's point of view,
the special was nothing short of phenomenally ground breaking. Sure,
Penn & Teller did a few obligatory card tricks, but what really sold
the show was the promise that at the end, they would vanish a
submarine. Oh, yeah. And many of the tricks were UNDERWATER! Some of
the tricks were cute at worst, some were huge ordeals that didn't work
right from day one, and others weren't even tricks at all (we have Star
Price to thank for making them actually look like tricks). Taking
classic routines like Sawing a Lady in Half, Metamorphasis, and the
Million Dollar Mystery underwater, as well as doing a comedy/magic
routine below the surface, Penn & Teller have once again revolutionized
the craft of magic, and seemingly showed you every step of the way
(but, like so much else they do, they lied to you).
The two-hour special, which is a long time slot for magic, built up to the finale smoothly, keeping us interested with other well-crafted illusions. A new element of suspense was added to the Houdini Trunk Escape by dropping the trunk (and supposedly Teller) into a frenzy of hungry sharks, and they managed to almost kill one of their lovely assistants when she lost her air supply hose during the Sawing in Half illusion. But surrounded by a team of scuba divers, Penn & Teller went below the surface for their final illusion, and attempted to vanish an Atlantis class submarine.
The DVD also includes additional footage that was cut from the original script. Teller's edit of the Comedy/Magic Routine is included, as is a beautiful desalination trick, and a moving tanline illusion.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This made for television special may confuse those who are not familiar
with Penn & Teller, but for those of us who have been following their
magic acts for years will truly appreciate this special filmed in The
Caribbean. This show features an hour and a half of underwater magic
My favorite was the beach pick-a-card trick where they have hidden all 52 cards on the beach so when someone picks a card they show them their card somewhere on the beach, say on the bottom of the waitresses drink tray or inside a flower pot. The lady who calls for the 8 of spades is misunderstood for the Ace of spades, which makes for a funny routine.
I am a big fan of Penn & Teller. I've seen all their episodes of "Penn
& Teller Bull****" (I don't think IMDb lets me use the exact title) and
even went to Las Vegas to see their show (I was in the center on the
second row--as I said I am a big fan). I also have tried over the years
to see them every time they appeared on TV. So, in this context, I
would say that "Penn & Teller: Off the Deep End" was a disappointment.
Now I am not saying the show is bad--it's quite good. But style-wise,
it's not everything I love about the team. On "Penn & Teller Bull****",
they were abrasive, insightful and controversial. And, on their other
TV appearances and their stage show, they were gross--with LOTS of
blood! Alas, you'll see none of this in this much more family-friendly
The TV special was filmed in Nassau, Bahamas and Grand Cayman--so the setting sure is lovely. And, because it's there, the magic tricks all have the beach as a backdrop or were filmed under water--yes, under water! It's all very novel and fun. What I liked best is something Penn & Teller DO often do--they show how they did the tricks! And, they just about always are wearing suits--even in the water! All in all very enjoyable with one minor exception--the inclusion of Aaron Carter singing during one of the tricks. I just am not an Aaron Carter fan.
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