A host of specials under their belt, Penn & Teller start their 16-episode series with sexy bits, rock ‘n’ roll and plenty of Vegas pizazz that adds up to a breezy and fun hour. The illusionists have a command of TV now, and their presence on cable gives them the leeway to be a little more obscure and a bit more outrageous. (Combining rats, raw bacon, a deck of cards and Teller’s head in a cage probably wouldn’t fly on network TV).
Penn & Teller are still running the same trick — everything ends with the question “Is this your card?” — but the act has been considerably freshened and pushed over the top, Vegas-style. They have a bawdy “sex-magic” trick, the vile rats-in-the-cage trick and a gimmicky paintball segment that opens the hourlong with showgirls and a mega set.
Debut episode is heavy on the music, with ska-pop band Save Ferris doing a number and Lou Reed doing two, one of which is the off-the-wall “Egg Cream.” Rob Schneider (“Men Behaving Badly”) croons a lounge-style medley of rock numbers that eventually wears thin. An acrobatic trio does a fast-paced, magic-themed routine, the sort of bit that hasn’t been seen since the demise of Ed Sullivan.
Drew Carey, in little more than a cameo, acts as an assistant on one trick.