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Punishment Review

Official Review

August 24th, 2008 1:05pm
Reviewed by James Sanden
I’ve noticed that even if there is just one good idea on a mediocre magic DVD, I find myself wanting to give the DVD a passable review. In fact, I’ve heard a number of magicians say that, if you get just one good idea from a book or DVD that you use in performance, it’s worth the investment.

I can’t really say any of that about Patrick McCullagh’s DVD “Punishment.”

Not that the material on this DVD is horrible. It’s fine. But it’s also essentially derivative. Daryl has said that a performer should not release material to market unless it’s a step forward in method, effect or presentation, and I agree. If I’m paying for magic, I’m paying for something I don’t already know, something that will add to my knowledge, ability or insight as a performer. I’m not paying to see you perform or explain something I’m already familiar with.

Mr. McCullagh performs and explains 5 effects on “Punishment:”: 2 card effects, a coin routine, a cup and ball routine and a packet trick. I think it’s telling that every effect is a version of another performer’s work. The card routines are versions of Paul Harris’s “Whack Your Pack” and Jay Sankey’s “Paperclipped,” the coin routine is a version of David Roth’s “Wild Coin,” the packet trick is a version of Emerson & West’s “Color Monte” and the cup and ball routine is based on a Benson Bowl routine and David Williamson’s two cup routine.

There isn’t anything wrong with creating a version of another magician’s material. Some great routines have come about that way. However, and this is particularly true if you are selling the material, something should be added to the routine that makes it worthy of publication. Now, Mr. McCullagh does end “Whack Your Pack” with “Card Under Watch” and uses a different colored back for the prediction card in his version of “Paperclipped,” but neither of these ideas is earth shattering, nor is he the first to come up with them. And his version of “Wild Coin,” which uses a purse frame rather than an opaque container, is actually a step backwards because the routine features repetitive, heavy handed sleights and far too many unmotivated, unwarranted and repetitive movements. (For example, it seems like every time he produces a coin or changes it, he closes the purse frame and sets it on the table, only to immediately pick it up and open it again in order to bring about the same effect he just performed. This is an example of very amateurish construction.) The disc finishes with an extremely standard cup and ball routine and a packet trick that is designed to take advantage of the pun in the title of the effect (“Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right.”)

I may sound like I’m being harsh, and Mr. McCullagh is clearly a working magician who fools and entertains his audiences. But that doesn’t mean his material is ready for the marketplace. For $30 I expect quality material that will at the very least give me something to think about, even if I never perform any of the effects. The 5 items offered on this DVD clearly work for Mr. McCullagh, but they offer little that hasn’t already been seen elsewhere.
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Product info for Punishment

Author: Patrick McCullagh (Pat-Trick)
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $30.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

If you like strong, memorable, 100% reaction magic that lasts with your audiences then this tape is for you. All the effects where filmed in real situations with members of the public.

Card Watch - This effect has everything, a reason, tension, and an astonishing finish. A speculator tires to quick draw the magician and merely a thought of card ends up behind the spectators own watch.

Sweet dreams of you - The magician tells a story of a dream he had where a card was signed, it is reconstructed. As a climax a card that been on the table all along turns out to have the spectators signature and has a different colored back.

Wild Frame - Three copper coins appear form frame of a purse, they are then dropped though turning to silver, then they change back to copper and eventually disappear. Quite a knuckle buster.

Single Cup and Balls -A very workable variation of a classic cups and balls using a single cup and ball bearings with large metal balls for the final loads. Ideal for restaurants.

2 Wrongs Don't Make a Right -This is a great little packet that uses minimal sleight of hand. It has a funny patter and make terrific use of word play.

Running Time Approximately 1hr

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