Criss Angel -- Heart, Humor, Inspiration, and Talent
Diane J. Trautweiler | New Jersey, USA | 02/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another season of the A&E show, Mindfreak, has come to a conclusion, and here I am revisiting to review it once again. The first thing I will state about this show is that I cannot pick a favorite season; it would be like picking a favorite child. I think each of them stands on their own.
Season 1 was about drawing in an audience and wowing them with a modernized version of what one would call "magic", sprinkled with plenty of death-defying stunts. For the women in the audience (and I did not really take inventory of how much this occurred with my first viewing), in just about every episode, we were treated with plenty of bare Angel chest (insert drool factor here). Season 2 added a little humor and personality to the show, with a little less chest baring and a little more bling.
Now, here we are at Season 3. The bling has increased, and the personality factor has as well. The beauty of this whole show is that it has that personality. Criss Angel has stated countless times that his idol, Houdini, had had such an impact because of the emotional level he had with his audience. Having the illusions, feats and tricks coupled with the personality is what makes people care about what he is doing. If we don't know who he is, then he's just going to be a guy who can do some really cool things, but so what?
Which brings me to my next question: Is Criss Angel and Christopher Sarantakos the same person? If not, then he MUST show who he really is - and I think we might be starting to see that little by little. I may be an odd-ball, but what drives me to care about anyone of celebrity stature is who they are behind the image. If Criss Angel wasn't Criss Angel with a TV show on A&E and I got to know who he was because I went to high school with him, or he was part of my neighborhood for years, or I worked with him long before he started gaining fame, money and popularity, would I care? Yes, I believe I would. Maybe that makes me a fool. No, it's not about money, bling, fame, name-dropping, or even the tricks. What is it about? Heart, Humor, Talent, and Inspiration - that's what its about.
In this season, we see some episodes that a few people have complained about: The Loyal episode, the Kid in Criss episode, or the appearance of Nicky Glass and Justin Case. Every person is going to get moved or entertained by different things, but I think these types of episodes give the show a well-rounded balance.
The Loyal episode shows how he interacts with his fans. My life creed to surviving the illusionary world of Celebrity-I'm-Above-Mere-Mortals is that you don't forget the following: Your family, your friends, the people who work with you and for you, and your support system/fans. Personally, I was shocked when I came across a clip online showing and stating this man sat for 18 hours signing autographs for a turn-out of 10,000 plus fans at the opening of his store at the Luxor in December of 2006. I just wish there was some of that in the episode.
I think episodes like, The Kid in Criss (or Chad's Story from Season2) or Animal 2 (or Animal Magic in Season 2) are moving and just give you a good feeling. Plus, the animal ones are pretty funny. Someone told me that kids and animals, who are innocent and free of stereotypical thinking, are the best judge of character. I find it comical that grown adults think Criss Angel is so creepy, yet kids love him and flock to him. How judgmental we "adults" are. Criss changes his "look" like people change their underwear, but that, coupled with his "air of mystery" makes him creepy and scary, right? Please.
What about the matter with Nicky Glass and Justin Case? For those who haven't been introduced to these two "characters" and may or may not have been introduced to Crissy from Season 2 and are STILL having nightmares about "her", let me explain. Our beloved Mr. Angel likes to dress up - I can only guess when he's bored or wants to trip people out - like the most obnoxious characters. He's virtually unrecognizable and goes out and unleashes them on unsuspecting folks on the streets of Vegas. So, if you see or hear a very fat, unbecoming, gross, obnoxious has-been magician or a tall, badly dressed red-headed salesman with buck teeth and a funky suitcase, you'll know who it is. My only advice to you if you happen to bump into such individuals while visiting the City of Sin is to keep your valuables close and start walking away real fast.
Like the other two seasons, I like the tricks, but I love the between-the- lines. I like something that makes me laugh. I don't stay with anyone who doesn't make me laugh, or who doesn't inspire me in some positive way. If I walk away feeling better, than I know I'm on the right track. I can say I've never felt bad walking away from a Mindfreak episode. When I look at an episode like Prisoner Transport Escape, besides being intrigued by this play on escapism I also enjoy the golf course scene. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, watch it. I have no idea whose idea it was to put Criss Angel on a golf course, but it's quite . . .ahem . . . entertaining. When I look at Criss being dragged around a dirt track by a rope in Quad Drag Escape, I look at the human side of how his mother's impending heart surgery is affecting him. You cannot create art in a vacuum.
So, I hope these kinds of episodes continue. If you happen to get the DVDs, the extra features are well worth the price. I wish he would release a whole DVD package of bloopers and behind-the-scenes. I hope he considers it. Putting the guest stars on the show (especially Amazing Jonathan. Forget THOSE TWO together. They could have their own show) keeps things fresh and moving, too.
If I had any "advice" or anything I would change, it would be this: Criss, lose the excess bling (a little bling is cool, too much is distracting). I want to see what the hands do, and all the blingy rings take away from it. I'd do a little magic on the blond highlights and make them disappear, and I wouldn't bother with "hanging" with the bottom of the celebrity pool. I would also use that smile and that laugh more. That smile - wow - it brightens every stormy sky and the laugh - its like music to the ears. The kid in Criss has to come out more, for sure. When you have a "real" personality and a true talent you can still amaze with class and integrity. I believe, if he keeps to who he really is and doesn't lose his heart and integrity, we will be seeing the best of him to come.
So, ARE YOU READY?
An outstanding set of illusionist specials.
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 04/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The complete Season 3 of the hit series featuring Criss Angel captures all his stunt performances and mystic episodes from the third season making it a hit for prior fans who have seen the series. All 20 episodes star a range of scenes, include Criss' celebrity guests, and host additional scenes and features. An outstanding set of illusionist specials."