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Coin Ovations Review

Official Review

September 6th, 2003 12:19pm
Reviewed by Brad Henderson
I was quite looking forward to this DVD. McClintock's reputation particularly among the younger set runs high, and I had met him once at an A1 convention. Though what I saw him perform left me nonplused, I was hoping this DVD would change my opinion.

It kind of did, but not necessarily for the better.

I do not know how many years Reed has been doing magic, but his thinking is young. (Notice I said young, not fresh.) His magic is very visual, and technically amazing, but there is a void of substance in all of his presentations and performances.

I was going to go through the trouble of transcribing one of his scripts so one could see just how inane they were, but I'd rather spend that time reading a good magic book. Allow me to present a few examples.

His 13 coin matrix begins with the question, "Have you seen the movie, the Matrix," before launching into a trick about neither movies nor the philosophical underpinnings of the Matrix film per se. (Unless one considers the notion of beginning with 4 cards and then doing a coin trick evidence of the technological control over our minds and the distortion of reality from imagination.)

Reed also insists of handing an adult an imaginary coin and expects them to feel anything other than like a big goob. For someone whose sleight of hand is so elegant, its a shame his presentation is so juvenile.

At one point he uses the line, "You can't teach an old coin new tricks." He then informs us in the explanation sequence that this line always gets a laugh. Except in the performance section before real people, where it is met with awkward silence. Reed adds in this context, "I wrote that myself." Now this self deprecating plea for a giggle is met with just that, but someone whose magic is so lovely doesn't need to be apologizing for it. Ok, maybe for his verbal handling, but not for his magic.

I particularly love his final line for "Scream Fly" which reads, "I know what you're thinking. That's one, that's two, and that's three."

Ok, I DON'T know what they were thinking if that line some way answers that point, unless it's that one is using an extra coin. If that were the thought, then he should have disproved that early on, which he sort of does, and not leave the last thought a spectator has to be just about the method of the trick (and one which in someway DOES point to a viable method). A lot of coin magicians do this. They present great magic and then close with handing out the coins for examination or reiterating some fact to hide the method ("and remember, my sleeves are rolled up"). They take the moment of magic and point it right back to the question of method. Maybe they need their skill validated. What a shame.

I also hasten to add that it was Tommy Wonder who wrote that the only people who count objects under the quantity 5 are retarded people and magicians.

The rest of his presentations are all short verbal snippets which do little more than make audible that which any human being can see he is doing for themselves.

Now, many may argue that Reed is letting the magic speak for itself. And I could agree with that if indeed the crowd reactions warranted that conclusion. I would also agree if his magic wasn't move after move after move on top of each other without giving the audience the chance to ever really absorb the magic.

Just watch the reactions during the Elbow, Knee and Neck. These people are passive observers of a pleasant juggler who is a nice diversion from dinner. That's fine enough, I suppose, but MAGIC can be oh so much more.

As to the tricks themselves...

13 Coin Matrix is Reed's handling of the Gertner/Pace multiple coin production. As a rule, its good; though I think he needs better blocking the times he reaches into his pockets for the steals. Cellini researched the fact that it takes 8 repetitions of an action before an audience member unconsciously ceases to see it. Believe me, when Reed sticks his paw into his front pocket the one and only time in the routine, the audience may not know exactly what's coming next, but they know something is up. Also, the blocking on the jumbo coin load could have been covered better with a more studied use of levels.

Reed's Elbow, Knee, and Neck is an opportunity to watch coins appear and disappear without any real rhyme or reason. I always thought the original routine had a charming premise, a logical structure, and a theatrically sound conclusion (see Spectacle, Stephen Minch). Reed has chosen to abandon all that in place of seeing just how many vanishes, grips, and reproductions he can fit into this little piece of finger flinging. Again, this is endemic of "young thinking." Flash and trash over the creation of a magical moment.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think he needs robes, candlelight, and a fan blowing in our hair; but I would like to have a reason to care to watch other than just to see someone show off how well they hide coins in their hands.

Next up is Scream Fly, which of all the offerings is the best. It's visual and Reed pulls it off nicely. Again, I would like to see more intelligent scripting, or even a studied use of silence. I would have liked each transfer to be allowed to shine a little more in the spectator's memory. Finally I would have liked to have seen the ending of this routine presented with a little more clarity.

(Digression: 3 Fly effects are two magical happenings in one. The vanish of the coin AND its arrival. Why don't any magicians make the vanish more interesting. Its always a case of, "look the coin is here already and you didn't see it go." A 3 fly vanish as startling as a 3 fly appearance would be impactful to even the most jaded of audiences. Also, everyone does 3 fly too fast. Coins pop and unpop but laypeople, I contend, never are allowed to enjoy or appreciate the magic.)

Finally, Reed presents International 3 Fly. 3 Fly with three different coins. I think Vernon, on seeing this, may have uttered, "See boys, that's what I mean when I say confusion is not magic."

Yes, there are a couple of neat moments, like with the English penny and half dollar ricocheting back and forth, but I feel the beauty of the coins across gets lost and the audience doesn't know what to expect. If they don't know what to expect, then how can they be satisfied. Unless of course the desired response is, "Gee Ma, that magic guy sure can move them coins real fast, can't he?"

I am a musician. International Three Fly would make a great etude. Something to practice, develop some chops, try to figure out a way to perform it magically, but in truth realizing this is for the practice room not the paying public. For them, there are better songs.

In short, this DVD has one fairly solid routine; lots of neat visual, flashy tricks; but very little magic that would leave a memorable impact on intelligent adults in the real world of magical audiences. I'm not saying that Reed doesn't do this magic commercially, but I contend that with a little more maturity and thought, he could simplify these pieces and frame them in a way that would empower them to stun, amaze, and burn themselves into the memory of his audiences forever. He's just not there yet.

(Also note: I am not saying these effects are too technically demanding. I believe that you need to develop whatever skills are necessary to create the strongest magical impressions possible. I just think the effects are overly complicated and the magic is obscured by the highlighting of technique.)

Production value is minimal but more than adequate. I will say Reed does a GREAT job of teaching the material. Although it is a one camera shoot, Reed makes sure all the critical moves are seen from all of the critical angles. I like the inserts of the show for real people, and I thought Reed came off as sincere in his willing to help other magicians learn.

I predict Reed could be a great teacher of magic, and once he grows into a stronger magician he should have some interesting moments to share with us.

Rating this is tough. As a fun DVD for magicians impressed by technique it could easily get 4 stars. Instructional quality is easily 5 stars, in spite of the minimal production technology. As a resource for culling tricks to insert into one's own repertoire, these pieces need a LOT of work but I think could be adapted into something special by a competent performer. So I'll give it a middle of the road 3.

Product info for Coin Ovations

Author: McClintock, Reed
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $29.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

In his eagerly awaited first coin release, Reed McClintock shares his most famous effects! Discover Reed’s rare brand of coin magic-smooth, graceful and in-your-face!

Each routine on this DVD is jam-packed with one surprise after another. So much so, that audiences forget about catching you; they just sit back and enjoy the roller coaster ride.

Since all the magic on this DVD is performed standing, it’s suitable for performance in strolling venues, trade shows, restaurants, banquets, and hospitality suites. Contains:

* 13 Coin Matrix Matrix takes a devastating turn as 13 coins magically appear and assemble with military precision on your close-up mat. The proverbial jumbo coin is produced in a very clever way. "My Thirteen Coin Routine just got better, I love Reed's handling!"-Jim Pace

* Reed’s Elbow, Neck and Knee Daryl’s proficient and well-organized routine has spawned a bastard child. Coins travel around your body and limbs so much they could earn a frequent flyer pass.

* Scream Fly "3-Fly" as you’ve never seen it! It’s slow and smooth with no funny business (you’ll never be accused of fast hands). You end so clean, they’ll think you just took a shower.

* International 3-Fly Yet another version of 3-Fly, but this one’s different, no really, come back! Three different coins pass from hand to hand with lots of play along the way.

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