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'Penn & Teller: Fool Us' fan recap: Nobody's fool

Season 2 | Episode 4 | “Knife of the Party” | Aired July 27, 2015

The premise, or at least the promise, of Penn & Teller: Fool Us is that P&T are experts in illusion and masters of magic, and are virtually unfoolable. Of course, since Penn & Teller also respect the secrets of the magicians on the show, they don’t actually explain how the tricks are done—not in a way that the audience understands, at least. As a result, it’s sometimes more interesting when the contestants successfully fool the show’s judges.

Our duo reveals more of their thought process when they aren’t sure they’re giving something away; there’s something magical in seeing the wonder on their faces when they’ve been fooled. In last week’s episode, P&T were fooled. It was great television, but lest it make you worry that they’re not the masters The CW presented them as, fear not: This week, not a single contestant fooled them.

Not a single one.

But that doesn’t mean the acts weren’t still pretty mystifying. They were fantastic—just less fantastic than last week (even for those of us who don’t know how all of the tricks are done). Here’s a ranking of the acts from least to most magical. This week, it also happens to be the order in which they performed.

Austin Janik: The Boy Wonder

Penn & Teller Fool Us

Austin was an amazing performer. He did a card trick in which he had host Jonathan Ross rip up a card and keep one piece. Then he reassembled the card, minus that piece. He took things a step further by having Jonathan sign the card, initialling the scrap piece, then adding it to finished card backward. It was an impressive trick, and Austin, who is just 16, had great delivery. This is nitpicky of me, but Austin lost major points when Penn revealed in his post-trick wrapup that the trick was a commercial one—meaning one that you can buy a kit for in the store and then learn at home.

Does it make his presentation or young age any less impressive? No. Those were still spot-on, as Penn noted in his recap. But there’s something about going on Penn & Teller: Fool Us with a store-bought trick that dulls all the shininess of the magic.

Amazing Allison: The Sexy Mentalist

Penn & Teller: Fool Us

Amazing Allison is a badass woman—she says so herself in her intro video, in which she also does Krav Maga, shoots guns, and rides motorcycles. Onstage, however, Allison embraces her feminine wiles while doing world-class mentalist tricks on P&T. I have to applaud Allison; she earned her badass title by using Penn & Teller as her subjects. Her mind tricks were impressive. She did a numerical square that absolutely wowed the audience, and guessed Teller’s drawing while grinding on him in a surprisingly family-friendly way.

So why is she only second from the bottom? Well, she didn’t fool P&T, and even though I don’t know how her tricks were done, I’ve seen them both before. I’m always a little underwhelmed by contestants who think they can fool the greats with a standard trick and no fun twist.

Mac King: The Total Pro

Penn & Teller: Fool Us

Mac King already knows Penn & Teller. He’s another popular Vegas magician with his own show and a large repertoire of tricks. He claimed in his intro video that he’s fooled Penn & Teller lots in the past, but he tried out a brand-new illusion for the show. It was long and a little convoluted, and involved an elaborate sleight of hand and a big finish in which he eats a live guinea pig on stage.

It’s easy to see why Mac is a successful magician; he had great presence and was more at ease on stage than most contestants I’ve seen on the show. He would probably be my top pick of the week if I hadn’t caught a little of the sleight of hand myself (probably a result of the camera angles, not a reflection of Mac’s skill). But, to paraphrase Penn from last week’s episode, as soon as you see one move in the trick, the whole thing kind of falls apart.

Norman Ng: The Creative One

Penn & Teller: Fool Us

Norman Ng performed a play on the bending-the-silverware trick. Instead of focusing on the bending of the fork as his trick (he did bend the fork, and expertly—but Norman knew going in that such a classic trick wasn’t going to fool P&T), he also drew a fork, handed the drawing to Jonathan Ross (I love when the magicians involve him), and revealed after the physical fork bent that the drawing of the fork had changed to match it. Even though Penn & Teller seemed to know pretty instantly, I have no clue how Norman pulled it off. His trick was the most creative of the night.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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