It was a peaceful and boring Wednesday when an e-mail popped up in our general inbox with the title: 'Deception - Digital preview'.
"We would like to offer you a digital preview of the pilot for 'Deception
'. Are you guys keen?," the e-mail read.
We did a quick Google search and we found out that 'Deception
' is a brand new TV series that will be showing on Warner TV, Astro Channel 719, every Monday
(premieres 12 March) at 9pm
Because we were bored post-tea time snack, we accepted the offer and a preview link was sent to our inbox a couple of minutes later.
We watched the first episode, and here's what we think:
What is it about?
'Deception' follows the story of cocky Las Vegas magician Cameron Black, who after being unwillingly caught in a scandal, is forced to put his skills of deception, influence and illusion to use in an unlikely place: the FBI!
Together with his behind-the-scenes illusion team - producer Dina, eccentric engineer Gunter, and street magician Jordan Kwon - they team up with FBI agents Kay Daniels, Mike Alvarez and Janet Deakins to become the world's first consulting illusionist, helping the government solve crimes that defy explanation.
TL;DR, a magician helps the FBI catch bad people.
What we think
To make it easier for you to take the review in, we're gonna divide the review into two columns: what we like, and we don't.
What we like:
#1 At least it's original
What we like most about 'Deception' is its originality. We've seen police dramas featuring a 'psychic' (remember 'Psych'?), a crime novelist ('Castle') and a fallen angel/demon ('Lucifer
'), so a cop drama involving a magician is a breath of fresh air.
The only magic-related show we've actually got into was 'Criss Angel: Mindfreak
' and 'David Blaine
', so, yeah, we enjoyed the idea of having a magician-police TV series.
#2 Magic, magic, magic!
If you're a huge fan of magic - like us! - you'll be happy to know that it has enough tricks up its sleeve (see what we did there?) to keep you happy. Jack Cutmore-Scott, who plays Cameron Black, was, in his part, believable as a magician.
Now, our only complain about is this: the producers make it a point to explain to you how the tricks were pulled off, so it kinda ruins the 'mystery' of the magic tricks. If you've always wondered how street magicians pull off the card switch trick, you'll learn about it here. Stay away if you're a purist.
#3 What a start!
It may seem like something minor, but we actually did really like the first few minutes of the show. It was pretty captivating and it was the perfect way to kick off a show. We're not going to spoil it for you, so you just got to watch it.
What we don't like:
#1 Pace? What pace?
OK, the pacing here is a hit and miss. When the action is fast-paced, it is a little too fast-paced. Within the first ten minutes, the show has already revealed Cameron Black's greatest secret and we're pretty sure set up the entire plot for season one. They weren't any time for backstory either; just 'he did this, so he's going to do this to get out of that'. When you show your hand in the first episode, it's going to be hard to ride it out.
But most of the time, the pacing was a little slow for our liking. It involves a lot of talking - and we mean, a lot! Cameron never stops explaining stuff to his team, especially the magic bit. Once that's done, the other characters will ask him a set of follow up questions, setting up the perfect opportunity for him to explain more things.
If you take the time to explain every magic trick, wouldn't that ruin the 'wow' factor of a magic show?
#2 Error 404: Characters not found
You know how sometimes when you watch a TV series for the first time, you'll just subconciously fall in love with one of the characters? Sadly, we didn't in 'Deception
'. Cutmore-Scott was just OK as the main lead; he wasn't as charming as Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine
' or Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) of 'Castle
'. We didn't find anything interesting about his character at all in that first episode, so hopefully, his character grows some personality in the later episodes.
Also, the supporting cast was pretty forgettable as well. His behind-the-scenes illusion team lacked chemistry and was so boring, you'll appreciate Barry Allen's band of scientists in 'The Flash
' more. The lead female character, FBI agent Kay Daniels (played by Ilfenesh Hadera), did not stand out either.
#3 If at first you don't succeed, try harder
Yeah, we know it's a magic-related TV show and we should prepare our butts for a lot of magic tricks, but it's reached a point where they just stuff it down your throat. Want to stop a gang of bad guys from running away? Distract them with a magic trick. Want to disarm a thug holding a hand gun? Tell him you can catch a bullet. Want to trap a ring leader? Set up an elaborate illusion trick to lure him in.
At one point, we felt that they were just trying too hard to show you that magic is cool and you can do anything as long as you know magic. And that got us thinking: how many hardcore criminals can you stop by using magic tricks? It's like the same question we asked Michael Scofield; how many prisons can you escape from in 'Prison Break
' until you've run out of ideas and you have to cut the series short?
#4 Dude, where's the hook?
Perhaps the biggest concern we have with the series is that we've lost interest by the time we finished watching the first episode. There wasn't any hook in that episode to make us want to continue watching it.
For instance, a day after watching 'Deception
', we watched 'Altered Carbon
' for the first time on Netflix, and we found ourselves thinking more about the latter than the former. And to be honest, we are OK with not watching another episode of 'Deception
'. Yeah, that's not very good.
We've only watched one episode, so we can't say for sure that 'Deception
' is going to be a bust. After all, shows like 'Daredevil
' and fellow cop show 'Mindhunter
' eventually pick up in pace and storytelling later in the season.
But the difference between these shows and 'Deception
' is, the other shows somehow managed to hook you on the first episode itself, making you want to binge-watch the other episodes over the weekend.
' didn't really give us that feeling. It's more like: 'Oh, they released a new episode this week? I'll watch it right after I go through my other TV series' and after a while, you'll forget that the show even existed.
Should you watch 'Deception
'? Yeah, it's interesting enough for you to give it a go, but we don't think it's going to be a mainstay in your weekly must-watch TV series list.