Brand New Review
I recently re watched all four of these DVDs and wrote individual reviews for each. After that, I thought I'd update the review here that covers all four DVDs. So here is the complete review of the entire series.
David Regal . . . I think of Regal, and I think of the local pub from Three's Company called Regal Beagle. Of course John Ritter was the star of Three's Company. When I think of John Ritter, I think of the World's Greatest Magic specials that aired every Thanksgiving for a few years in a row back in the 90's. John Ritter hosted most of the episodes. I remember that was the first time I heard of guys like Bill Malone, Guy Hollingworth, Max Maven, Mac King, Michael Ammar, Michael Finney and a ton of others.
Ah . . . the memories.
Jeff comes back from memory lane . . .
On to the review.
Production quality - As with pretty much all L&L DVDs the quality, lighting, menu navigation, etc are all top notch. No complaints here.
DVD Concept - The concept of Premise, Power & Participation is that once you've reached a certain level of competence in your technical abilities, what will separate you from all the other magicians who are also good technicians? Answer . . . How well you present the magic.
We learn from David Regal how to figure out how to present magic. He suggests that we start by analyzing three basic areas (premise, power and participation).
Volume I Focuses on premise, Volume II on power, Volume III on participation and Volume IV on non in particular but rather some stand up pieces from his repertoire
Teaching - How good of a teacher is David Regal? Excellent. Putting aside the quality of the effect for moment, if there's anything you like on this DVD, you will learn it very well while being entertained and engaged by a very smart, funny and clever guy.
The Effects - Below is a list of each effect with a rating (1 star = lowest; 5 stars = highest) along with brief commentary on each one.
Volume I - Premise
Contact Lens Gag
- This is basically a funny gag where you pretend there's a problem with your contact lens, when suddenly a huge glass 'contact lens' falls out of your eye onto the table. It's funny and get's there attention, but needs to be treated as a gag . . . That being said, I'm going to exclude this one from the effect ratings.
Look at Me, I'm Special (2.5 stars)
- This is a 3 phase routine that starts with a pretty weak four Ace production, then moves to a stunning card change (the Aces change into Kings), followed by an average reproduction of the Aces. The premise is funny and lightens the mood, but the effect is only average.
Carried Away(4 stars)
- A simple, quick and visual transposition. The selection vanishes from the Ace packet in your hand and reappears in the King packet on the table. Simple and clever
Eight Ball (3.5 stars)
- The ink on the Eight of Clubs 'falls' off of the card and becomes an Eight Ball. It's very unexpected and visual. In the performance, it was treated like a throw away. While I don't think it needs to be a huge presentational piece, I do think it could be elevated above the status of throw away.
Tenacious Climber (4.5 Stars)
- This is one of my favorite tricks from David Regal. It's a perfect example of how to examine premise. This is his handling of Ambitious card. Those who know me know that I've never been a fan of ambitious card . . . I'm still not a convert after seeing Regal's, however, his routine is the ONLY one I've ever seen that actually had some semblance of a logical premise.
Coins Through the Table (4 stars)
- All coins across or coins through table effects have that one problem of how to make the final coin look a little different or better than the ones before. I think this handling, though a bit of a hook up required, goes a long way to solve the problem of the last coin. You see it on the table, he covers it with his hand. When he lifts his hand it's gone. Very powerful. Plus I love the 'Flash Gordon' premise.
Exhibit 'A' (4.5 stars)
- Brother Hamman's Your Signed Card taken to the next level. This is one of the cleanest effects of this type that I've seen. The card face down on the table from the start later is discovered to be the signed selection. The handling is pure and clean. I love it. The only downside is that the card in the end cannot be handed out. However, Regal has a pretty solid presentational reason/premise that covers this appropriately.
Sum of the Parts (5 stars)
See this once and you'll want David to be the father of your next flock of playing cards. I think when Paul Harris developed Mickey Mouse Math, this is what he meant to invent. It's clean, visual and stunning . . . beautiful magic.
Shred of Proof (5 stars)
- This may be my favorite effect on the disk. It's a simple card revelation. However, it has an engaging story, a really clean 'selection' and a very clever and interesting way of revealing the selection as a paper shred is twisted until the selection is revealed . . . it's quite eerie, especially in light of the attached story. One other point is that this can modified to reveal anything. It doesn't have to be a playing card.
My Best Friend (5 stars)
- Most chop cup and cups and balls routines I've seen are just lame. There are exceptions of course, but in general, the patter is crap; the flow is crap; the 'presentation' is crap and confusing. However, My Best Friend just might be the best chop cup routine I've seen. Instead of balls, it uses a small fake mouse . . . the final loads will take you by surprise and they are perfectly logical. Killer magic.
Chink-A-Drink (2 stars)
- Probably the worst effect on the DVD. It's your standard Chink-A-Chink with a beer bottle production at the end. I will say, that this is a nice way to clean up the extra cap used when performing Chink-A-Chink. I just felt that takes what used to be a simple impromptu (or at least on-the-fly) routine and turns it into something more complicated, less impromptu and less portable.
I'm a huge fan of David Regal. However, even my greatest hero Superman has his weakness. David's Kryptonite is sort of a bitter sweet. Like Superman it's created from a wonderful part of who he is. David Regal is a writer and an excellent one at that. He's written for Everybody Loves Raymond, Rugrats. One of the things that make his magic beautiful is this ability to write (e.g. Shred of Proof). However, in his presentations, I see him get too caught up in the script at times and things sometimes feel to rigid or strict.
However, he is sooooooooo far ahead of most magicians putting out DVDs, and like Superman, his strengths are so much more than this one weakness. - Note, he could be Superman; He looks like two completely different people with his glasses on and off.
The Tricks alone average to 4 stars. Add in David's vast experience and performance prowess and script writing savvy, and you get a solid, solid DVD definitely worth adding to your library. Final Verdict: 4.5 Stars with a Stone Status of Total Gem!
Volume II - Power
Isolated Force (5 stars)
- Since the title of the effect has the word 'Force' in it, I don't feel bad telling you that this is one of the cleanest, fairest, awesome-est forces ever. The method is designed in such a way that the force happens before people even realize the effect is started . . . additionally, at the end when everyone is expecting sneakiness, you've been 'done' for a few moments already and there is nothing for the audience to 'catch.' It's perfect.
Half & Half (4.5 stars)
- Though this requires a particular gimmick that you have to make, the effect is very powerful and seems to kind of happen on a whim during the performance. Essentially, a signed card is torn in half and half of the card changes colors. The best part . . . the pieces can be handed out and kept as souvenirs.
Perfectly Oiled (3.5 stars)
. . . must not . . . hate . . . oil . . . and . . . water . . . as much as I try, I just can't not hate the Oil and Water plot. My own oily bias aside, this isn't the worst handling of said plot. However, there a few fishy moments that I didn't like. But the particular method Regal uses adds an extra level of deception. Add to that his ability to make mountains out of presentational mole hills and you've got a pretty decent routine. If you're a fan of the plot, I think you'll appreciate this handling.
Face It, You've Changed (4.5 stars)
- Two words: Brill-iant! How 'bout this for an effect . . . spectator handles a blue backed card. She signs the face. It changes red. Oh and did I mention that the magician NEVER touches the deck or the card. It's almost perfect. There's one minor thing that is slightly illogical in the presentation and it happens to be method driven. However, with a little thought, this can be justified with a simple line or explanation to the audience. However, even without justifying this portion, the trick is still incredible and impossible seeming.
An Incredible Journey (3 stars)
- A flirty piece of magic where a blown kiss from the cute blonde (or the burly bearded man) into the card box becomes her signed card. It's good; The presentation is excellent; The method however looks very fishy and requires what I felt was overly animated contrived choreography.
Not Quite Dead / Haunted Pack (4.5 stars)
- Even when I tell you this uses thread, you won't believe it when you see it. This is some very clean hands off thread work that is just beautiful to watch. From the explanation we also learn a very valuable lesson about thread work . . . I'll save that for when you watch it.
A Magic Lesson (3 stars)
- A trick that starts as a gag and turns into a decent effect. However, the build up and set up you give the audience sets up one expectation but in the finale they get something that's not quite as good as what they were expecting. You ultimately get applause that sounds like well-that-was-an-ok-trick-but-nowhere-near-as-good-as-he-made-me-think-it-would-be. Nobody likes that kind of applause.
Holding On (3.5 stars)
- Card through table with a very clever move worth learning, however, the final reveal seemed a little rushed . . . he almost kind of squashed the moment of the reveal.
Prophecy Pack (5 stars)
- From the moment I discovered this concept, I've used it in many different ways in my effect. This is the cleanest and most impossible looking prediction of a fair selection. I've used concept to close my corporate shows on several occasions.
Penny for Your Thoughts (4 stars)
- I like the concept of this. The prediction is a novel and simple prop (a letter from the IRS), and the selection seems very fair. It will take a lot of work to put this together, but once you're done, you'll have a solid effect that is so easy to do.
Fill in the Blank Transpo (4.5 stars)
- Another impossible seeming effect where the magician seems to do nothing. Yet somehow a card in the possession of the audience member ends up in your pocket. Simple method using a clever concept that Regal uses in many of his effects.
Brief commentary on Regal's performances:
Regal's a smart and clever guy. He's come up with a lot of powerful magic over the years. Most with solid and doable methods. When you read the presentations on paper, they're well written and well scripted and well thought out. The problem comes in when you're live in front of an audience. We (myself included) tend to rush things. Whether it's due to nervousness or the excitement of the crowd, or something else I don't know. I bring this up to point out that we see this a lot on this DVD. In some cases, his hurriedness squashes the moment of magic or makes it unclear. Watching a pro like David gives us the opportunity to not only learn from his strengths but also his weaknesses.
Averaging the effects we get 4 stars. Add in the extra tips and concepts you'll learn from this set and you've got yourself a 4.5 star product with a Stone Status of GEM!
Volume III - Participation
Lucky Seven (3.5 stars)
- This is one of those deals where you rely on luck, but have a good back up plan if luck fails. In the performance, David got lucky. But it was funny. It was almost like he wasn't expecting it and it seemed to fluster him a little. Putting that aside, the effect in itself is decent, and the 'non-lucky' out is solid.
Control Yourself (3 stars)
- An effect that's 'OK.' I'm not a fan of the count down to the number of cards matching the face of that card kind of tricks, and I don't think most audiences are either.
Clandestine Collectors (4 stars)
- If you're a collectors fan, you'll like this one. It's one of the cleanest handlings I've seen. There was a part or two in the explanation that was a little unclear, but not so much so that you can't learn this.
Not This (4.5 stars)
- A very strong piece of mentalism where you predict not only what they will do, but also what they almost did. You just need some business cards or scraps of paper and a pen, and you've got a heck of an effect that gets a lot of people involved.
Coincidence Deck (3.5 stars)
- This is a straight-forward sort of do-as-I-do effect where you always go first and pretty much everything is a free choice. You end up with two piles of cards (yours and the spectators) that match each other perfectly.
A Simple Woodcutter (3 stars)
- An overly hyped revelation of a card. It has a decent hook/story, but in the end it's just a force and a card revelation. The force is actually very clever and worthy of consideration for other uses as well.
Off-Color Thought (3 stars)
- This is similar in feeling to Not This above, but a weaker effect, in my opinion, because of a part of the method that requires two little funky 'things' during the presentation. Not enough to rubble the effect, but enough that I'd skip past it.
Mystic Poker (4.5 stars)
- Lots of fun, participation, and humor. Essentially a spectators names any card from a any royal flush and you cause the remaining cards of the royal flush to magically appear (e.g. she names Ace of Hearts; You magically cause 4 blank cards to become the King, Queen, Jack and Ten of Hearts). Lots of byplay and fun while the spectator has to draw an entire playing card on a blank card.
Mucilaginous Monte (4 stars)
- If you're a fan of 3 card monte - I'm not - this is a tough one to beat. It's about as clean as you can get. However, though the cards are not gimmicked, per se, or misprinted, they cannot be handled by the spectator
Again we have David Regal the brilliant thinker and teacher over reacting to his own effects during performance. It's mostly fun, but sometimes annoying. However, I also recognize that it's his performance character, so I'm not docking any points for that.
The Average rating of each effect is 3.67. Considering that you're learning at feet of a master with that average, it's easy to give this DVD a 4 star rating with a Stone Status of GEM.
Volume IV - Regal Stands Erect
Journey to Love (3.5 stars)
This is David Regal's handling of Larry Becker's Room Service. Regal basically adds three things. First a comedic change to the prediction and second a big display of the prediction at the end. Additionally he brings in some presentational differences that suit his personality including 'music' by The Carpenters. This is a fun routine that gets a lot of people involved. The presentation shown here is one I would NEVER use . . . way too flirty and bordering 'risque.' But that's a personality thing. Overall the effect is pretty solid.
Swindle Transpo (4.5 stars)
If I ever decide to replace Paul Harris's cards across (i.e. Las Vegas Leaper) in my repertoire with another cards across routine, it will be this one by David Regal. The handling looks so fair and so clean, and the effect is very clear. There are two discrepancy moves, both of which he claims will fly by. On the second of the two, he's dead right. On the first one, however, I'm not convinced. But the good news is that on the first one, just a minor bit of fiddling and playing to tweak the handling can fix this.
Got a Light? (2 stars)
Probably the weakest piece of the whole series. It's a combo of Sympathetic Matchboxes and Acrobatic Matchbook. Both effects are good effects, I just didn't really care for Regal's handling of them. The presentation was very rushed and flurious and not very convincing. I never really felt a moment of magic in the whole routine.
The Very Last Card (4.5 stars)
A very fun, engaging, energetic, bordering on spastic (in a good way) handling for the Last Card plot. The entire audience looks at every card in the deck and throws their cards in the wastebasket leaving only one card. Everything is a free choice. There is no equivoque yet you predict ahead of time what the remaining card will be.. It's one of the cleanest handlings for this plot that you'll see. I'm seriously considering this one for my stand up act.
After Hours (3.5 stars)
Regal's take on the story telling deck (e.g. Sam The Bellhop, Sam Spade, etc). It's not clear if this story is Regal's original. It's a pretty decent version with a bit of risque scripting, but all and all, not bad).
As I've mentioned before, David Regal is a top notch thinker and teacher of magic. He's also a very smart script writer and entertaining to watch. However, he often get's a little too excited in the performance section . . . not always a bad thing, but often is. It gets in the way of the magic and sometimes squashes the 'mood' or makes the effect less clear.
The average star rating of the effects is 3.6. However, consider that this DVD has only half the amount of effects (and not the best selection) as the other DVDs in the set, and I'm having a hard time giving this DVD much more than a 3 star rating with a Stone Status of still a gem.
After reviewing each trick in more detail and taking the average of each effect, we have 3.89 just on tricks alone. When you consider all the extras that I've already mentioned above, it's easy to give this set . . .
4.5 star rating with a Stone Status of GEM!
Incidentally, that's the same rating I happened to give it 3 years ago . . . I guess I'm consistent.
As I mentioned at the beginning, when I think of David Regal I'm reminded of many things I love about magic and some fond memories of past magical experiences . . . plus I think of Snoopy . . . he was a beagle.