Breaking the Magician’s Code

In many television shows, it’s all about the suspension of disbelief.

House will always stumble onto the miracle medical cure with just 7 minutes to go. Jack Bauer can stay alert for 24 hours without any need for a toilet break, coffee or a nanna nap. Sally Field can cry on cue. Lary Emdur loves a Snuggie. Andrew O’Keefe can’t wait to open another brief case. Bert loves doing clip shows over variety. Tracy Grimshaw reckons real current affairs are about parking inspectors and where to buy a plasma TV on the cheap. And a MasterChef dish is never re-plated after the clock stops.

Yes it’s all about suspension of disbelief.

So a special that debunks the magic should be genuinely entertaining, shouldn’t it?

….maybe you should keep yourself in suspense a little bit longer.

This special Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic Secrets Revealed (what a mouthful) is the first in a revived 2008 series by Nash Entertainment. Produced for the MyNetworkTV group, it originally began life as four shows in 1997.

It features a masked magician demonstrating magic tricks which are in turn explained without the sleight of hand. Presumably he is masked so he doesn’t get beat up by the rest of the magic fraternity. As a result he does his best pantomime performing while a cheesy US narrator colours the stunts with smarmy descriptions and awkward humour.

Decorating the scenes are busty girls, clad in erotic outfits that look like they have stepped out of a late night sex-line advertisement. The narrator keeps dropping in asides on their appearance. Who wrote this stuff?

Visually, there’s a lot of theatrical lighting in what appears to be a movie studio setting. There’s no audience, which might have added a little ‘wow factor.’

In the first episode you’ll see magician assistants disappearing, bodies chopped in half, passing through a steel wall and a Bentley turned into a Lamborghini.

There are false bottoms everywhere, and not just on the ladies…

The show works best as post-David Copperfield television. His grand TV stunts in the 1980s were genuinely entertaining because they were grand-scale and he was such a showman. In perhaps a more cynical age, we’ve probably lost our sense of fun. But I reckon we’ve lost some patience too. This masked magician needs to cut to the chase a lot quicker. The direction is sluggish and you could probably just trawl YouTube if you really want these kind of answers.

The special may need its own magic next Monday when it competes against MasterChef Australia.

The timing is also a little curious. Not only do we have John Edward currently touring the nation, and being challenged in interviews, but one of the finalists on Australia’s Got Talent is a young magician, doing exactly this style of trickery. Should the same network now be calling in the fraud squad?

Coincidentally, AGT host Grant Denyer will even re-voice this special for Australian audiences, (it wasn’t on the preview) a trick the network deployed last year for the factual import Destroyed in Seconds.

Yep, in television there’s a lot of suspension of disbelief goin’ on…

Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic Secrets Revealed airs 7:30pm Monday on Seven.


  1. Another one here who liked Mitch Pileggi’s hosting/narration and I was going to watch it until I read that Channel 7 has that fool, Denyer dubbing it.

  2. I loved this show when it was first on, and have even kept it on VHS for posterity, but I don’t recall a cheesy US narrator, I believe it was Mitch Pileggi for at least the first few eps… but Grant Denyer now? *sigh*

  3. I’m not sure if people are aware, but by revoicing or dubbing over with an Australian voice, the network is able to claim the show as part of the Australian content requirements. Talk about magic…That’s one clever trick!!

  4. In Malaysia and Singapore, the show just premiered 10 days before Seven.


  5. I remember seeing an awesome series ages ago called “Magic’s biggest secrets revealed”. Early 2000s if I recall correctly.

    If it’s anything like that, and based on the description, it should be very interesting.

  6. Annoyed that they’re wasting airtime with this. We know they’re illusions. People aren’t really getting cut in half, etc. But it’s still brilliant and I don’t think we need to know how it’s done.

  7. This reminds me of ‘Wrestlings greatest secrets exposed’ which still gets the odd midnight airing here and there…. Here’s an idea, how about letting people enjoy something of an escape from the dreary reality of life 🙂

  8. Pileggi was a great part of the first series – but I’ll probably watch this one anyway. Let’s face it, “I can work it out before they explain it to me” will always get a sucker like me in…

  9. Macarthurblack

    I will definitely not be watching this show, I haven’t even read this article for fear of something being revealed. While I sit during magicians acts and and cry “how do they do it?!” I really don’t want to know. I want to continue to be amazed and awestruck by the illusions. Santa was taken away from me when I was younger – I want to keep some magic and excitement in my life!

  10. I saw a promo for this, and it just looks like a rehashing of the 1997 series. In this age, they should be showing us how to debunk modern day tricks like John Edward’s talking to the dead trick, Derren Brown’s mind reading techniques or some David Blaine tricks. Everyone knows about those old false bottom and mirror tricks.

    I’ll definitely give this one a miss.

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