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'Penn & Teller: Fool Us' recap: Cutting shadows

Season 2 | Episode 11 | “Teller Deflowers a Shadow” | Aired Sep 21, 2015

Penn & Teller are known for their incredible stage presence, their fearless take on magic, and their imaginative, original tricks. One of their most famous, completely original tricks is one Teller performs solo. Tonight, for the first time on television, he performed his famous shadow trick. In the trick, Teller carries a knife to a sheet of white paper, onto which the shadow of a vase and flower are projected. He cuts the paper and the leaves and petals from the flower fall off accordingly, cut from the shadow and reacting in real life. It’s a beautiful trick. It’s a deceptively simple trick. It’s a relatively short trick. It’s perfection, and it’s one of my favorites in the Penn & Teller repertoire.

It’s nice that we got one of the best of Penn & Teller’s tricks, though, because this week wasn’t quite as strong as previous weeks on the contestant front. Let’s get straight to the rankings, from least to most magical.

Scott and Puck: The Cagey Guys

Penn & Teller

Scott and Puck took the stage with an elaborate setup: a cage front that they constructed on stage. They had audience members examine the bars for authenticity. They had Jonathan Ross test the distance between the bars and prove that a bowling ball couldn’t fit through. Then they proceeded to pass a bowling ball and a human through those bars. Sounds amazing, I know. So why do they rank last on this week’s list? Because all of the magic happens behind a black curtain. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much magic lately, but nothing that happens behind a curtain really mystifies me at this point. I’m so sorry, guys.

Mark Calabrese: Through the Wood Chipper

Penn & Teller

Mark Calabrese did a simple card trick with an elaborate middle step. He had Jonathan Ross pick and sign a card. Then he replaced the card in the deck, brought out many (many) other decks of cards—and a wood chipper and a blindfold and noise-canceling headphones—and went to work. He mixed the decks together and blindfolded himself. He put on the headphones, turned on the wood chipper, and started destroying deck after deck—all while “blind.” He finally ended with one deck left. He opened the deck and, still blindfolded, located Jonathan’s card. Even without a background in magic, I assumed he was feeling out the deck he needed (although, admittedly, I have no idea how it was marked). Penn & Teller seemed to know that too, and called Mark out pretty quickly. It wasn’t a bad trick, but it was overly complicated for the payoff.

Paul Vigil: The Numbers Guy

Penn & Teller

Paul Vigil is creepy in the way that only magicians can get away with being creepy. It’s a compliment to call a magician creepy, in a way, which I say to clarify that I’m definitely complimenting Paul. His trick was so incredibly simple, and I really appreciated that. He got three numbers, one from Penn, one from Teller, and one from a randomly selected member of the audience. He used obvious suggestion techniques to guide them toward choices, which they all, naturally, rejected. Then he turned to reveal a card pinned to the back of his jacket. He had Penn take it off for him and read a number he had written in before the show … and it’s the number he solicited from Penn, Teller, and the audience. I don’t understand the trick, but P&T did—because they read Paul’s book. That’s a great compliment.

Eric Jones: Maybe a Real Wizard

Penn & Teller

Eric Jones stole the show tonight. It might have been sleight of hand, but it truly boggled my mind. He used four coins and two volunteers to make me believe that he might actually be a real wizard. Instead of just making the coins move or disappear from his own hands (which is impressive enough), he made them appear in and disappear from the hands of his volunteers. A man who was not a magician would be holding four coins; then, with a little magic (a lot of magic, a lot of REAL HOGWARTS MAGIC), Eric would make one of the coins disappear from his volunteer’s hand, and the person would have no idea how it happened. I have no idea either. Penn & Teller thought they knew, but Eric challenged their assessment and the judge ruled in his favor. I didn’t even realize it was possible to overrule Penn & Teller, which might be the more incredible bit of magic Eric performed.

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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