Penn & Teller’s Home Invasion Magic

Are you ready for some card tricks? ABC fills the pesky non-Monday Night Football hour with the gregarious Penn Gilette and the silent Teller popping up at malls, schools, private homes and the beach with a dizzying array of sleight-of-hand tricks. For anyone who has ever been left wanting after seeing one of their tricks on David Letterman's show, this is an overflowing bounty. Duo's signature is a constant state of misdirection, flubbing one or more aspects of a trick --- even to the apparent point of death or mutilation --- to make the finale that much more spectacular. They even explain tricks: one with cards so anyone can do it at home and another with cups and balls that, rather than explicate, is an astonishing display of technique. Throughout, Penn combines carnival barking with political soapbox ranting --- subversive, sublime and wildly amusing --- and bolsters the weirdness factor of even the most ordinary trick.

With:
With: Penn Gilette, Teller, Drew Carey.

Hourlong program starts on a cul-de-sac with 27-lb. aluminum cards and forklifts and from there visits a school’s science lab for a little fun with liquid nitrogen and frozen goodies (perhaps a “don’t try this at home” was in order). Magic invasions continue at a mall where some body piercing goes awry, an Italian restaurant for a fascinating test of worms and Polaroid snapshots, and Zuma Beach, where the three of clubs shows up in an odd place. Drew Carey helps solve a trick from the set of his sitcom. Show closes on the classic P&T rendition of a Houdini water tank trick.

Cameras capture Penn & Teller with a randomness on par with the stage-free settings — in one scene there’s an errant boom microphone and many scenes are erratically lit — but the bland, cheesy music is not only inappropriate, it sucks the air out of the segment bumpers rather than maintain the high energy level. Lack of stages means audiences are at an assortment of angles to see the performers, yet they never catch the secret moves. That, indeed, is magic.

Penn & Teller's Home Invasion Magic

Monday, ABC, 10-11 p.m.

Production: Taped in Nevada and Southern California by All American Television Prods. Executive producers, Paul Buccieri, Robert Weiss; producers, William Blaylock, Paul Canterna, Sarah Jackson, Ben Levine, Gaby Johnson; co-producer, Wylleen May. Director, David Steinberg; writers, Penn Gilette, Teller;

Crew: lighting designers, Jeff Engel, Kim KiIlingsworth; editors, Jud Hudgins, Brian Waingrow.

Cast: With: Penn Gilette, Teller, Drew Carey.

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