BFTV’s Best Of 2013

The Good Wife

The Good Wife

High-fives for everyone! As 2013 comes to a close, it’s time to recognize the TV shows and people behind them that have made our jobs worthwhile. We’ve looked back on all the programs we’ve covered this year and picked out the few that we think deserve some special recognition. Check them out below, and feel free to leave your own ‘best of the best’ in the comments.

Suits - Season 3

TV Series Of The Year: USA’s Suits

Television doesn’t get any better than this. Suits has been nearly flawless over three seasons, with a completely fantastic cast including two of the best actors we can think of (Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty), episodes that are so good we’ve actually hurt our hands writing so much about them, and lines that have snuck their way into our daily usage. As a show, it’s an obsession, one of only two shows we’ll re-watch during the season, and the only one that we have to dissect because there’s so much to love. But it also does what our best shows do: it’s gone from being just entertainment to being a part of our lives. We quote it, we worry over it, we have the T-shirts, because Suits is that awesome.

The Good Wife

TV Series Of The Year, Pt. 2: CBS’s The Good Wife

We’ve never given out this award twice. Yet we just have to give some extra love to The Good Wife, which has elevated itself to an obsession of its own this season. Alicia Florrick’s (Julianna Margulies) departure from Lockhart/Gardner may be the best thing that’s ever happened to this show; it presented a whole new spate of challenges, and moved away from the love triangle that had run its course. Now Alicia and Cary (Matt Czuchry) are having to start over, Will (Josh Charles) is a man on a hell of a mission, and the writers are balancing even more story potential without short-changing anyone. Weaker shows would crumble under everything The Good Wife has going on. We, on the other hand, can’t get enough of it.

The Good Wife

Individual Performance Of The Year: Josh Charles, CBS’s The Good Wife

One of the major reasons we’re so enthralled with The Good Wife this season is because it’s thrown the spotlight on Josh Charles. We could’ve told you he was one of TV’s finest actors 15 years ago, and he’s already earned one Emmy nomination for his role as Will Gardner, but he’s at his absolute best this season. With Will on the warpath, we’ve been able to enjoy scenes that demonstrate many different aspects of Josh’s superlative talent, whether it’s pure power (how many times did you re-watch that desk-clearing scene), comic timing, or his uncanny ability to connect emotionally with the audience. Plus, he directed an episode, too. It’s been a true pleasure to watch someone we already enjoy so much shine even brighter this year.

Suits - Season 3

TV Moment Of The Year: Harvey Specter punches Stephen Huntley, USA’s Suits

We judge this one solely on the strength of our reaction, and that’s why we’re giving the nod to the bathroom brawl at the end of “She’s Mine.” It’s almost never the case that a promo can reveal a moment and have us still excited for it when the episode actually airs. We knew this fistfight was coming and yet, because the show had built it up so perfectly with great writing and a palpable tension between Gabriel Macht‘s Harvey and Max Beesley’s Stephen, we were so amped up over it that our neighbors complained about the noise. That’s right, this was such an awesome scene that we caused a disturbance. How can that not be our TV moment of the year?

Body of Proof

TV Development Of The Year: Mark Valley joins ABC’s Body of Proof

You could put Mark Valley in just about anything and we’d watch it. He’s one of those actors that we can always depend on for a great performance. That’s why we were thrilled when it was announced that he was joining ABC’s Body of Proof. As Detective Tommy Sullivan, he got to do everything we love him for, from cracking wise to busting bad guys and even getting the girl. We enjoyed getting to watch him on a weekly basis once again. Unfortunately, his addition wasn’t enough to save the retooled series, which was axed and replaced with the really short-lived Lucky 7. The good news is, Mark’s already landed a new role – he’ll appear on NBC’s upcoming series Crisis.

Sports Night

TV Development Of The Year, Pt. 2: Sports Night begins airing on FXX

It’s not a new TV moment, but we still have to mention how thrilled we were when we discovered that FX’s spin-off channel added our favorite show to its schedule. Sports Night hasn’t been on the air since Comedy Central briefly picked it up following its cancellation 15 years ago. And because it meant so much to us back then, it’s meant a lot to us now to be able to rediscover it, and reflect on how much we still love this show. If you haven’t watched it, please do so. It’s still the best show we’ve ever seen.

Criss Angel Believe

Reality TV Series Of The Year: Spike’s Criss Angel BeLIEve

It takes a lot to wrest this away from NBC’s The Voice, but Spike’s Criss Angel BeLIEve did just that. We fell in love with this show from the outset for a number of reasons: 1) It brought magic back to television on a weekly basis; 2) It offered us a perspective on its subject that we hadn’t seen before; and 3) It was just really freaking cool. Getting to see the ambitious demonstrations Criss Angel came up with was great, but it was almost more interesting to be privy to how they were put together, and how much is really required for what we only see as entertainment. The result was less a show and more a journey into professional magic. Our fingers are crossed that BeLIEve comes back for a second season.

Monday Mornings

Newcomer Of The Year: TNT’s Monday Mornings

Monday Mornings was truly a wonderful piece of television. It proved to be even better than advertised, with absorbing scripts courtesy of TV stalwart David E. Kelley and a great writing team, and those episodes were brought to life by a talented ensemble ranging from known names such as the amazing Jamie Bamber to pleasant surprises like Keong Sim. Through the doctors at Chelsea General Hospital, we were not only treated to entertaining medical drama, but also prompted to examine our own thoughts and feelings toward a number of issues.  Unfortunately, the network didn’t see Monday Mornings the way we did, and cancelled it after the first season. This is one of those shows we’re going to regret losing.

With our accolades handed out, we officially close the books on television for 2013. Stay tuned on Friday, as we’ll preview the four shows you don’t want to miss in 2014. Until then, Happy New Year!

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

5 Things We Learned From ‘Criss Angel BeLIEve’: ‘Ship Appearance’

Criss Angel Believe

Criss Angel Believe

It’s hard to believe (no pun intended) that we’ve come to the last episode for this season of Criss Angel BeLIEve. After weeks of crazy demonstrations and reveals, we almost don’t want it to end. But it’s time to take a break, although not before we talk about making boats appear in Cabo San Lucas. Here are the five things we learned from “Ship Appearance.”

If you’ve missed them earlier, you can also check out the five things we learned from ‘Blind’, ‘Bullet Catch’, ‘Raise The Dead’, ‘Levitating Shaq’, ‘Alligator Torture Escape’, ‘Lord of Illusions’, ‘Double Straight Jacket’ and ‘Elephant Herd Vanish’.

01) You can translate a demonstration from the stage (sort of). The basic concept for “Ship Appearance” is lifted from one of the demonstrations in the BeLIEve live show, where Criss makes a motorcycle appear. Given how different stage magic is from TV magic, it’s interesting that such a thing is a possibility (even though the ship demonstration has a couple extra layers to it than the motorcycle one). And considering that the live show is pretty impressive, we’re all for demonstrations from it finding a wider audience.

02) Magic appeals to audiences around the world. This is the first time we’ve gotten to see Criss take a demonstration outside of the United States. It gives us a glimpse at how his audience extends into other countries (more than a hundred of which will get to see BeLIEve through international distribution). The wonder of watching the impossible become possible is something that’s universal no matter where you are or what language you speak.

03) Hurricane warnings are not a suggestion. Multiple episodes have had weather as a factor, but this is the first time we’re talking about weather that’s classified as a natural disaster. Forget the demonstration – we’re happy that nothing more serious happened. And given the number of weather issues we’ve seen over just this season of BeLIEve, we now understand why many magicians prefer to keep their acts inside.

04) Consequences, part two. As we mentioned when we discussed ‘Double Straight Jacket,’ that demonstration left Criss with shoulder issues, and in this episode, we’re privy to him uncovering the extent of his injuries. You have to admire his transparency in including this as part of the show. Other people might have wanted to keep the personal private, especially when it’s something negative like this. But in allowing us to see it, Criss not only illustrates the real grind of being a professional magician, but remains genuine with his audience. He’s never shied away from showing us when he’s been in a bad mood or something hasn’t worked right. His profession might be about blurring the lines, but that doesn’t exclude him from being a real person.

05) Criss has the best fans in the world. We’re not just saying that because of what we saw in this episode, although that was pretty impressive. This one comes from our personal experience. Over the ten weeks we’ve been writing about this show, we’ve gotten to know quite a few of the Loyals. And we’ve been flattered by how these fans have welcomed us into their world and supported our coverage of BeLIEve. There are a lot of passionate fan bases in the world, but not many with the compassion of the Loyals. So if any of you are reading this, give yourselves a virtual pat on the back. You deserve it for not just your support of Criss, but how you treat each other and everyone else, too.

That does it for our coverage of Season 1 of Criss Angel BeLIEve, but we’re not going anywhere. Stay with us as we’ll be continuing to cover all things Criss Angel-related, and sharing with you anything else that we might learn. If you missed anything from the season, you can click here to visit our show archive.

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

‘Criss Angel BeLIEve’ Preview: ‘Ship Appearance’

Criss Angel Believe

Criss Angel Believe

It’s time to send off Season 1 of Criss Angel BeLIEve, so how do you possibly do that? Well, you go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a massive demonstration. There’s a little bit of everything in this episode: professional high stakes, personal drama, and Mother Nature once again crashing the party. If we’d scripted what this episode was supposed to be like, we probably couldn’t have come up with this.

[SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know anything about tonight’s episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, stop reading now. This preview contains some general spoilers.]

Firstly, a programming note: if you somehow have not seen last week’s episode (“Elephant Herd Vanish”) yet, you probably want to do that now. You don’t have to have seen it to enjoy “Ship Appearance,” but there are things from last week that carry over into this week, and they’ll make more sense if you’re caught up.

On to the new content. Team Angel takes a “working vacation” to Cabo after Criss is invited to perform there. The idea that he pitches is based on one of the demonstrations in his live show, which sounds simple enough, but watch everyone else’s faces as he decides to add multiple new layers to the concept. He really wants to pull out all the stops for this international performance, and this one definitely qualifies as over the top.

The smaller demonstrations throughout the episode are entertaining (you have to wonder if Criss can go anywhere without having to perform), but the ship appearance is the most notable piece. It’s the first time we’ve ventured into the ‘Appearance’ category of magic, and the first time the show has filmed outside of the United States. Clearly, there’s territory to be mined here in any potential Season 2, in both respects.

You won’t necessarily be biting your nails this week. This doesn’t have the risk factor that came with the likes of “Cement Grave” or “Lord of Illusions,” so there’s not as much suspense as those episodes. Instead of hoping that Criss doesn’t get maimed, you’re wondering how exactly the team is going to pull off the not-so-short list of things that are supposed to happen as part of this demonstration. And while you don’t get answers to every item on that list, it’s with good reason, because like ‘Double Straight Jacket,’ this episode detours into another story.

What’s more serious – and ultimately almost more moving – is the other half of the episode, in which Criss goes to see a doctor about the shoulder pain he’s suffered since his straightjacket escape. This is the kind of stuff most people would leave out of a show for a variety of reasons, but once again BeLIEve takes us places that we’ve never been before. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but we get the opportunity to take a pretty personal journey with Criss, and that’s something more valuable than just entertainment. For all the fantastic things we’ve seen this season, the most important aspect of BeLIEve has been how it’s helped us understand the world of magic.

Criss has done an excellent job over the run of the show so far to pierce his public persona – or at least the public perception of his persona – and show us his inner workings on every level, from technical to emotional. While “Ship Appearance” may not be BeLIEve’s most thrilling hour, it perfectly wraps up the education the audience has been given over the last two months, and it will leave you with what this was all for: a greater appreciation of not just magic, but the greatest magician we’ve had the privilege of watching.

Criss Angel BeLIEve airs tonight on Spike at 10 PM ET/PT. Be sure to check out our exclusive post-season interview with Criss Angel about the series, and follow Criss on Twitter (@CrissAngel).

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Criss Angel Looks Back On Season 1 Of ‘BeLIEve’

Criss Angel Believe

Criss Angel Believe

For the last two months, Criss Angel has taken us on the journey of the year with his Spike TV series, Criss Angel BeLIEve. He’s given us an inside look at not only how magic is performed, but how demanding and exhilarating it is to be a professional magician.  How do you quantify a project that’s made history, blown minds, and even genuinely moved us, too? As he was preparing tomorrow night’s last episode of the season, “Ship Appearance,” Criss sat down with BFTV to look back on his return to television.

When we first talked to him before BeLIEve premiered, he spoke about doing something different from his first TV venture, A&E’s Criss Angel Mindfreak, and from anything else that had been seen before. Now that everything’s said and done, does he feel like he accomplished what he set out to do?

“Without a doubt. Absolutely,” he told us, pointing toward the show’s record-breaking premiere, a clip from the first episode that has well over fifteen million views on YouTube in just under eight weeks, and an international deal that will bring the show to a hundred and three countries. “A hundred and three countries is more than Mindfreak used to play in,” he continued. “And I’m really proud of what we’ve done. I think we’ve delivered a show that’s definitely different than anything that’s ever been put on television in regards to magic, including my own work.”

We’re inclined to agree with him. Unlike any other magic project in any medium, not just television, BeLIEve hasn’t only delivered impressive illusions; it’s an up close and personal look at the reality of magic.  It’s not only what happens, but how it happens, who makes it happen, and what it takes for the magician. Forget those Magic’s Biggest Secrets specials; this is the most revealing look into magic that you’ve ever seen.

That’s not to say the demonstrations weren’t jaw-dropping, because they were. We were privy to Criss succeeding at a demonstration that killed another magician in ‘Cement Grave,’ watched him perform a controversial act in the Halloween special ‘Raise The Dead,’ and were shocked when the cameras caught him nearly being seriously wounded in ‘Lord of Illusions.’ These were not simple tricks; in fact, several episodes weren’t tricks at all, but legitimate challenges. This was pushing things to their absolute limit.

So even though Criss had been through the process of television before with Mindfreak, that didn’t necessarily prepare him for BeLIEve. “It was a lot more difficult to do than I ever dreamt. And obviously with my shoulder surgery, that was not part of the plan,” he commented, referring to the injury he aggravated while performing his Times Square double straightjacket escape. “At the end of the day, I’m very happy with the outcome and with what we accomplished.”

“I think we’ve accomplished everything we set out to do, and I think we still have some room to grow and figure out how to tweak things and do things that I have ideas for,” he continued. “I think if you look at the ‘Rips Bodies Apart’ , wand how that one clip just grew at a rate that the world of magic has never seen in its history on the internet, that is just an unbelievable thing. To see a clip have 15 million viewers in a matter of a couple of months is just mindblowing.

“If you look at episodes like the straightjacket [escape], I’m really proud of that show. It gives people the opportunity to see where I started and how difficult these things I do are,” Criss told us. “Then [the] elephant vanish showed the viewers that this didn’t just happen to me overnight; this is something I’ve been working on over decades.”

What’s the most important thing that audiences should’ve learned from BeLIEve? “Is that illusion by definition is not real. It’s not real,” he explained. “When people say it’s fake, yes, of course it’s fake. It’s not supposed to be real.”

Perhaps what confuses some people is that Criss doesn’t perform just illusions, but demonstrations that are devoid of any such deception, many of which we’ve gotten to see this season. “What I do as an artist is I blur the line,” he continued. “Hanging upside down in a straightjacket with a fifty-pound weight is no illusion. It’s not fake whatsoever. It’s completely and utterly real. There’s no trick to it.”

We got a major shock earlier this season with ‘Lord of Illusions,’ where just moments after Criss walked away from the demonstration, a sword that would’ve impaled him released on its own. “Movie magic can be very dangerous, but bringing it to life in a real world setting is even more exponentially dangerous,” he reflected. “When I did that, it was crazy. I was twenty seconds, fifteen seconds away from being literally impaled.

“Some of it came easier than others,” he said. “I have to be thankful that the worst thing that happened to me from the entire season is that I have to have shoulder surgery because of the straightjacket in Times Square. The fact that I lived through [the season] and didn’t get permanently maimed, it’s really remarkable. I would’ve liked to not have to go through surgery, but it is something that’s part and parcel.”

Even with all the shocks and surprises that made it on the air, we still didn’t see everything. “We have a lot of stuff. I have another probably fifteen, twenty different demonstrations that I shot that I didn’t have room for,” Criss revealed.

Did he feel like he received the reaction from audiences that he wanted with this series? “The response from the public has been amazing,” he said. “People that were fans of Mindfreak watched it, and I think they’ve seen a transformation and a growth. You build new fans, and you have your old fans.”

Speaking of those existing fans, they deserve some recognition here, too. “The Loyals are really, I’m so blessed to have this group of people that support my art, because they’re from all over the world, all different walks of life, all different backgrounds and they’re just wonderful,” he continued. “It’s good to be out there producing some positivity and strength within each other and looking at each other as somebody that is an asset and somebody that we want to build up. I love the fact that Loyals are, globally, typically pretty positive and pretty supportive.

“I think what you put out there in the world is what you receive. If you put positive things out there and you try to be positive and put out a good message, a message of hope and strength and the power to believe, then that’s what follows you,” he continued. “I always try to put something out there that’s positive. I’m not special, I’m not different, I’m just like everybody out there. I try to lead by example.”

With BeLIEve, Criss is certainly setting a remarkable example not just for magicians, but really for anyone who decides to produce a reality television show. He’s put together a program that has blended the entertainment value of illusions with the informative aspect of allowing us to see behind the scenes. It’s a series that has brought truly ambitious moments to television without losing any of their impact in translation.

And most importantly, it has a purpose. It’s not just a vanity project for Criss to show off; it’s opening up the world of magic. Why do such a thing? Maybe because we haven’t quite grasped just how much it requires to create these fantastic things that seem so easy.

“People that have come before me have done one television special a year or every few years. To sit here and do a television series of ten, eleven hours, a complete season, that’s a wealth of material,” Criss explained. “For me, that was a hundred and eighteen demonstrations. That is a tremendous order.

“To take that and couple that with ten [live] shows a week, that is a very difficult lifestyle. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s probably why, if you look at any magician in the history of the art, no one has ever done that. Sometimes it takes some magicians three or four years to come up with ninety minutes of material.” Or, if you’re doing the math, two episodes of BeLIEve.

“I really attribute the ability to do what no one’s really done to my incredible team,” he told us. “My team is really the nexus between thinking about something and then actually doing it.”

It’s as much about the journey as it is the destination. By creating BeLIEve, Criss has accomplished a variety of things, whether it’s reintroducing magic to a weekly audience, or educating that audience on the fact that modern magic is a lot more serious than we tend to think. As we reach this last hour of the season, he’s invested countless hours and who knows how much in resources, and he’s injured himself. So where’s the payoff for all the sacrifice? Is it in the ratings? The commercial success? Not even close.

As always, it comes down to a love of the art, a passion that through this show, he’s been able to impart to all of us.

“It is insanely stressful, challenging, demanding. This has been the most demanding, challenging project of my career,” Criss reflected. “But I also remind myself that no one’s making me do this. I chose this path. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I think back to the times where I was just dreaming about this and now I have the opportunity. How could I complain?”

The last episode of Season 1 of Criss Angel BeLIEve airs tomorrow night at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike. Stay tuned tomorrow for our preview of “Ship Appearance.” Until then, you can click here to see our full coverage of the entire season, and be sure to visit Criss’s official site (crissangel.com) and follow him on Twitter (@CrissAngel).

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

‘Criss Angel BeLIEve’ Bonus: Meet Krystyn Lambert

KrystynAPWI

Yes, she’s beautiful – but she’s also talented, tenacious, and tough enough to hang upside down in a straightjacket. Krystyn Lambert is part of the magic team on Criss Angel BeLIEve, and we snagged a few minutes with her last week to discuss the show, and her own emerging career in magic.

Let’s get the obvious part out of the way first: Krystyn is a woman. A ridiculously good-looking woman. The only woman on the magic team, in fact. But none of that is truly relevant. She’s part of Team Angel because she’s earned the right to be there. In Tuesday’s episode, we saw her perform two demonstrations straight out of Criss’s BeLIEve live show. Able to escape a straightjacket in midair and handle some intense pyrotechnics, she is definitely not just a pretty face.

So how did Krystyn get to be this badass? Well, we’ll let her tell you.

“I have always been a performer. My mother was pregnant with me when she was in Guys & Dolls, so I literally have been on stage my entire life,” she explained. “I got my first magic trick when my mother was going through her cancer treatments. I think that was kind of a way to give me something to do in her absence – something to really tinker with and toil with and sort of take my mind off the stuff that was happening with our family at that time. And it worked. Because I realized this is combining acting, logic, and all of my sci-fi obsessions – this is combining everything I love in one practice. And I just completely fell in love with it.”

Though she’d considered pursuing an acting career, a visit to the Magic Castle on her tenth birthday convinced Krystyn that magic was also a viable option, and at twelve she joined the Castle’s prestigious junior society as its youngest member. From then on, she continued to move up in the magic world. Just last year, she won the Junior Achievement Award from the Academy of Magical Arts. She’s been on television. She’s traveled to foreign countries. She was an honor student at UCLA. All this and she’s not even 30 yet. How’s that for accomplishment?

But ask Krystyn, and she doesn’t evaluate her success based on the lines on her resume. Instead, she talked with us about the many experiences she’s enjoyed over her career. “I really look at times like that first time that Criss called me,” she reflected. “I met him a couple of times – I met him at Lance Burton’s house, which I think he mentions in the show – but he called me and said, ‘I think you have potential. I’d like you to come out and work with me.’ That was three years ago.”

And spending weekends in Vegas, while still attending classes at UCLA during the week and keeping up with her own commitments, eventually led to her role on BeLIEve. “If I remember, it was late March or early April of this year. It was finals week. I had the stomach flu. I was miserable. [But] Criss calls me at 8 AM, [and] when Criss calls, you answer the phone,” she laughed. “He said, ‘Hey, I’m working on this television project, and I think it’d be a really great experience for you to come on, join the magic team.’ I didn’t know if I was dreaming or not. Criss Angel’s asking me to move to Vegas full time to work with him? Obviously I said yes, and about three weeks later, I was out here in Vegas.”

“Criss obviously had confidence and faith in me and what I could do. Nobody else really knew,” Krystyn continued. “They knew of me from the magic community, but I just sort of jumped right in and really hit the ground running, and I think it caught a lot of people off guard. They were not expecting such dedication and enthusiasm. Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it because that’s how I roll. I took everything on with a vengeance.”

“It’s just been a really crazy ride and so amazing,” she said of her time on BeLIEve. “So much has happened in a short amount of time. I have such a better sense of what magic can be on television, television production, live stage production. It’s a whole other echelon.”

It’s also given Krystyn an opportunity to shine. Not only has she been a valued part of Team Angel, but we’re getting to see in her what Criss saw in her years ago. Here’s a young woman who traveled with the State Department to bring her talent and share her experiences with other countries. She gave an impressive closing speech at 2012’s TEDxTeen conference, which we’re including below because we think it’s that interesting.

And if the professional accolades and the philanthrophic efforts haven’t won you over, consider this: Krystyn is one heck of a human being. While we’ve been covering BeLIEve for you every week, we’ve gotten to know her, and so we can say that she’s genuine, kind, and with a wonderful enthusiasm for magic. At the same time that she speaks so highly of everyone she works with and everything she’s gotten to do so far, she’s working hard toward an even brighter future.

“So far, people really haven’t seen what I can do. I think they’re like ‘Who is this girl? What does she do?’ I’m actually a magician. This is my life. This is what I’m really committed to,” Krystyn told us. “At least in magic, I think a lot of people see me and think, ‘She’s just an actress who’s learned magic as a gimmick.’ If I wanted to be rich and famous, I would’ve never have given up acting. The bottom line is that I have a very true and passionate love for magic, and that comes first in my life.”

You can see Krystyn in the next episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve this Tuesday at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike. You can also find out more about her by visiting her website (krystynlambert.com) or following her on Twitter (@KrystynLambert).

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

5 Things We Learned From ‘Criss Angel BeLIEve’: ‘Elephant Herd Vanish’

Criss Angel Believe

Criss Angel Believe

In this week’s episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, animals were back in play as Criss attempted to make four of them disappear on the football field at Missouri State University. And back in Las Vegas, his apprentice Krystyn got her shot to impress the audience by performing two of Criss’s own demonstrations. Here are five things we learned from ‘Elephant Herd Vanish.’

If you’ve missed them earlier, you can also check out the five things we learned from ‘Blind’, ‘Bullet Catch’, ‘Raise The Dead’, ‘Levitating Shaq’, ‘Alligator Torture Escape’, ‘Lord of Illusions’, and ‘Double Straight Jacket’.

01) We’ve found somebody who’s crazier behind the wheel than Adam Ferrara. While the Top Gear co-host has definitely earned his nickname of ‘The Wrecker’ (we say that with love, Adam), it’s a whole new class of crazy for Criss to attempt to drive blind with passengers in the vehicle. Although we’d argue that their constant screaming was probably a bigger distraction than not being able to see. And did we really need to call Banachek in the middle of this one?

02) Animals are difficult to work with. It’s just like the old showbiz truism says. And in this case it’s not even about anything the elephants do – it’s everything that has to be done for them to safely and successfully be a part of this demonstration. As Spiro finds out, you can’t just locate elephants and call it a day. He searches Florida, then visits a zoo in California, before he finally tracks down some circus elephants in Missouri. And then there’s all the safety issues involved…

03) The things that look cool are not always the best idea. Speaking of safety issues, having a bunch of people handcuffed to one another surrounding the elephants could’ve gone horribly wrong. As Banachek pointed out, it was a dangerous move. Sure, it looked better than them just holding hands, and we’re sure that there had to be a Plan B should the elephants have stampeded, but it still made us nervous.

04) To work with the best, you’ve got to be able to hang with the best. Kudos are in order to our friend Krystyn, who got to show off her own magic chops this week. She’s as talented as she is beautiful, but she still had to meet Criss’s exacting standards in order to get onto the stage. And that wasn’t easy – as we saw, it took a lot of practice and overcoming quite a bit of nerves for her to make her successful debut. Congratulations, Krystyn, and thanks for reminding us ordinary viewers that it takes considerable effort and a little bit of courage to be a magician.

05) The process can be a long process. Check out all the archive footage included in this episode. We talk a lot about ‘the process’ with this show, and it’s interesting to compare the finished versions of demonstrations we know to their original counterparts years earlier. The amount of time, effort and money invested into these things can be slightly baffling. For most of us, it might be hard to fathom working on something for years  at a time. But that’s what you have to do when you’re creating these concepts that are supposed to be grand and awe-inspiring. Those things don’t happen overnight!

The season finale of Criss Angel BeLIEve airs next Tuesday at 10 PM ET/PT on Spike. For more about the show, you can check out BFTV’s in-depth chat with Criss Angel.

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

‘Criss Angel BeLIEve’ Preview: ‘Elephant Herd Vanish’

Criss Angel Believe

Criss Angel Believe

There are only two episodes left in the Criss Angel BeLIEve season, so this is the time to throw everything up against the proverbial wall. Things get a bit crazy this week, as we’re talking about more animals – though thankfully ones less outwardly threatening than alligators – and one hair-raising stunt that we already teased for you in our sneak peek on Friday.

[SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know anything about tonight’s episode of Criss Angel BeLIEve, stop reading now. This preview contains some general spoilers.]

There’s a lot going on in this installment of BeLIEve. Besides the central demonstration – which, as you can tell by the title, involves the disappearance of multiple elephants – you’ll get to see the entirety of the “Driving Blind” film, in which Criss takes a visually impaired journey from his home to the Luxor. That’s worth the proverbial price of admission on its own merit. Mostly because of the reactions of the people in the car.

And this episode gives a sizeable chunk of center stage to our friend Krystyn Lambert, who’s Criss’s apprentice. You’ll get to see Krystyn in action for the first time, and more importantly, how she prepares for her big performance. Much more than just a pretty face, she also serves almost as the proxy for the audience. As we watch her tackle two of Criss’s illusions for the first time, she’s as new to them as we are. We can empathize with what she’s thinking and feeling, and we want to see her succeed. Krystyn’s journey is another reminder that you cannot just decide to be a professional magician. You have to dedicate yourself to the craft if you ever expect to gain anything from it.

Aside from ‘Driving Blind,’ all of this week’s smaller tricks are animal related, too, which creates a bit of thematic continuity. They’re more cute than jaw-dropping, but they fill the space between segments of the main stories nicely.

If there’s a flaw in this installment, it’s in the presentation of the main event. BeLIEve has given us a great deal of insight as to how these demonstrations are performed. In knowing some of what makes them tick, we gain a greater appreciation for the piece overall. You’re going to have some unanswered questions about the vanishing elephants. Whether that frustrates you, or whether you don’t really care, is up to you. Just know that it’s different from what we’ve come to expect from this series.

While that might disappoint the more cerebral among us, it doesn’t detract from the entertainment value. After all, it’s not every day that you get to watch someone work with four elephants and brave Las Vegas traffic while entirely blind in the same 42 minutes, right?

Criss Angel BeLIEve airs tonight on Spike at 10 PM ET/PT. Be sure to check out BFTV’s in-depth chat with Criss Angel about the series, and follow Criss on Twitter (@CrissAngel).

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.