Thursday, April 24, 2008

Celebracadabra: Magically Delicious, or Magic Dookie?

How many more ways will the television industry find to exploit former child stars and fringe celebrities desperate for a paycheck and a chance to get exposure somewhere other than The Smoking Gun? That was my first thought when I heard about VH1’s upcoming show “Celebracadabra,” where seven vaguely familiar entertainers team up with professional magicians in a race to be crowned Ultimate Celebrity Sorcerer.

The prospect of these novices learning how to do anything more impressive than pulling a quarter from a toddler’s ear, or making a dollar disappear, seemed about as likely as George Bush learning to say nuclear.

But I wanted to be fair. So, I took a look at the premiere episode on the VH1 website to see how many ways I could find to make fun of it. I was so prepared to hate this that I’d already come up with a string of snarky descriptions. I kind of hate to waste all those, but it’s really not as horrendously bad as I’d expected.

When Carnie Wilson, C. Thomas Howell, Celebrity Fit Club Host Ant, Kid of Kid N’ Play, actress Lisa Ann Walter, comedian Hal Sparks and Kimberly Wyatt of the Pussycat Dolls put their skills to the test by heading out on the street to perform magic for jaded Los Angeles passers-by, some of them actually pull off some pretty convincing tricks. If non-magic folk can learn tricks of that quality within a day (as they would have you believe), why not push the envelope with something really challenging like “Celebrainsurgeon”?

It’s pretty easy to guess who will be the first eliminated, who will be kept around just for sex appeal, and even who will win. If this lasts longer than CBS’s one night-only “Secret Talents Of The Stars,” I predict good things for Hal Sparks’ career. Who? Exactly my point. But just wait.

Best WTF moment: Magic Coach Silly Billy (representing the children’s segment of magical entertainers) reminds us yet again why clowns scare the hell out of us as he gleefully begins sawing a full digit off his forefinger with an Exacto knife during a lesson with Lisa Ann Walter. It was either a really good trick, or he thought he was on appearing on the Jim Rose Circus.

Will I watch this show? Not unless I’m quarantined and my computer has exploded. But for those who enjoy this sort of thing, it’s nice to know it’s not quite the humiliation fest that the name implies.

“Celebracadabra” premieres April 27 on VH1, home of “Flavor of Love,” “My Fair Brady,” and “Scott Baio is 46 and Pregnant.” You can also look forward to “Celebrity Circus” coming to NBC this summer.


Anonymous said...

I watched the first episode online as well and loved it! I'm so glad that VH1 is moving away from lowest common denominator trash. Nary a hottub or hoochie in site! Finally, a VH1 show that I can watch w/ my whole family.

Dodd Vickers said...

We have posted interviews with each of the Judges and the show host (Jeff McBride, Max Maven, Jonathan Levit) and the show's Executive Producer (Chris Martin) at the Magic Newswire and in our Podcast feed for those interested in learning a bit more about what it was like on set. In addition, they each speak of their personal history in magic. I hope that you enjoy these!