I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t like Penn and Teller. I’m not saying that those people don’t exist, I’m just saying that I have never met them. Penn is loquacious and amusing, Teller is the ultimate straight man, and their magic almost always catches the viewer off guard. Many times, the understood premise of the trick itself actually turns into something different by the time the performance is over.
Unfortunately, this disc has some problems that makes it one of their worst performances. The concept is a…great one… Penn and Teller do various tricks under (and with the aid of) water. Unfortunately, thisis aprogram hat was created first and foremost for a television broadcast. The reason this is an issue is that the DVD version of the show is pulled directly from the television cut, complete with “title bugs” in the bottom corner of the screen, “next up” teases and the like. In fact, the first ten minutes of this hour and twenty-eight minute program is solely comprised of showing the viewer what they will see in the program. There are so many of these recap and teaser segments that I’d say that actual entertainment content of this disc is just a bit more than half of the discs total running time. What a waste of an opportunity.
The audio here is decent… exactly what you would expect from a newly-created television program. Bass tones are kept to a bare minimum, and there is no discernible stereo effect. However, the voice overs are clear, and the underwater audio comes across much better than expected. The audio portion of this product is not meant to evoke an emotion in the viewer, but it is merely intended to convey information, which is something is accomplishes quite well.
The disc has a surprisingly clean video quality. Black levels are a bit on the rough side, and there is some grain here and there, but generally speaking, the quality is pretty decent. Bright colors faire particularly well, which is very important for a program filmed in the Caribbean. The images are also clear enough to let the viewer have an acceptable sense of reality, which is crucial to a magic show. The images here are everything that they should be. I can only wish that they would have overachieved just little.
To me, the special features here are really the best part of the entire disc. Penn and Teller have a history of sharing the secrets behind their tricks, and that is exactly what they do here. Not only do they share the secrets behind their amazing “disappearing submarine” trick, but they also have an extended segment and a couple of extra deleted tricks. Of course, when it comes to a liar and a cheat, you never really know which ones of the extras will be real, which ones are implied, which ones are purely slight-of-hand, and which ones may just be out-and-out lies. Never one to ruin the gag, viewers will have to check this out for themselves.
As far as Discovery Channel-style television shows go, this one’s pretty entertaining. As a DVD product, however, it is a bit of a disappointment. Part of the beauty of watching programs like this on DVD is that the viewer avoids the annoyances of commercials and their corresponding recaps/teasers. Unfortunately, in a bid to avoid some extra production costs, the producers of this disc decided against a re-edit of the program, and opted instead to toss that same existing television edit onto a disc, just as if the viewer was watching the show during its original television broadcast. Now that’s a dirty trick.
Special Features List
- Magic from the Cutting Room Floor: “Turning Ocean Water Into Drinking Water” and “Moving Tan Lines”
- Expanded scene: Not-So-Classic Sleights of Hand Performed Underwater
- The Real Deal Behind the “Teller-In-the-Water-Wearing-a-Straight-Jacket-Amongst-Hungry-Sharks” and “Disappearing Submarine” Tricks