The Carbonaro Effect……
It is always nice to see a magician do well on television. Watching the success of Michael Carbonaro certainly warms my heart a little, if only because he looks like a really great guy. I have never met Carbonaro but I would be amazed if he wasn’t pretty much the person that we see each week on the new TruTV hit series ‘The Carbonaro Effect’ every Thursday night.
What is ‘The Carbonaro Effect?’ It is a very smooth blend of the old Candid Camera hidden camera TV show and a less ‘in your face’ kind of street magic. The show had its origin in the segments that were presented by Michael on the old Jay Leno Tonight Show. They were a very popular addition to Leno’s program and now an entire show has been created based on the concept.
Carbonaro poses as a regular, and here is the key, highly likeable young man, in a public situation and then uses magical techniques to create humorous situations with members of the general public. My favorite example in the first episode involves the apparent mailing (Via Pet-Ex) of cute little puppies in decidedly flat packages. Carbonaro also removed a disgustingly large bug (as in LIVE bug) from an astounded iPhone owner’s smart phone. Both of these stunts resulted in great TV viewing; in turn both cute and gross!
It would be missing the entire point of the show to spend too much time discussing how the actual tricks and effects are achieved that form the basis of the action. This is definitely NOT a magic show—and that could be a large part of the immediate ratings success that it achieved. Not many series expand their ratings numbers in their second week on the air but this one did so in an effortless manner. Hey, it even picked up a second season just as quickly and easily.
There is a neat combination of traditional magical methods and careful staging that makes each stunt look authentic and effective. A magician might look at the camera angles and editing and be a little dubious about how they would fit into a traditional magic TV show. They would of course be totally missing the point! The appeal of the program rests squarely on the shoulders of its star, and he seems more than capable of supporting 22 minutes of reality programing upon them.
With a background that includes mainstream acting roles and performance art, Carbonaro has the perfect combination of charm and lanky good looks to win over the female demographic that is so often deeply unimpressed by magicians. Young guys will look at the show and wish that they could do all these cool things that Michael can. TruTV is very actively courting a younger viewer and this is a show that is going to help achieve their goal in a very significant manner.
A show like ‘The Carbonaro Effect’ is by its very nature going to rely heavily upon the consistency and quality of the stunts that it manages to pull during its episodes and this show has a real ace up its sleeve. Playing a very major role, albeit an almost invisible one if you look at their website and titles, in the creative side of the series is David Regal. I don’t think you could find anyone more perfect to help create the substance of the show than you get with Regal ‘under the hood.’
Both Regal and his ingenious ‘Clarity Box’ made guest appearances in the premier episode of ‘The Carbonaro Effect’ and I suspect David spends a bunch of time hidden under counters and opaque tables getting the magical job done. His unconventional and super effective approach to the magic arts seem to me to be very on display throughout the episodes. Carbonaro and Regal are a formidable team and between them seem likely to be able to keep the quality crackling for many seasons to come.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing magic get the update and tweak that David Blaine and Criss Angel gave to TV magic by blending traditional magic with the seemingly ‘not about to die soon enough’ field of reality programing. No hate mail please! I am fully aware that not everyone agrees with this opinion, however the ones who don’t are certainly not the demographics that the networks are reaching for. Carbonaro’s new series is once again expanding the style and scope of magic in a really interesting manner—more power to it!
One of the interesting sidebars in television history is the failure of the groundbreaking ‘60s series ‘Candid Camera’ to be able to successfully reincarnate after the death of its creator/host Allen Funt. I suspect a large part had to do with the public’s lack of interest in Funt’s son assuming his dad’s role, as some kind of a right of birth. With Carbonaro as the focal point of this new show I think we are going to see a hit show that will serve as a stepping off point to a long and varied career for Michael when he decides to evolve and reinvent his showbiz goals.
‘The Carbonaro Effect’ is available as a season ticket pass on iTunes, which is how I view it, having largely cut the cable cord. However, you can view it for free every Thursday night if you discover where TruTV is on your TV dial and I suspect many people will do just that—and this should make for a very happy cable network!