I have reviewed every season of Mindfreak, and now, here I am, reviewing the most recent Season 4. Anyone who has read my reviews for the previous three seasons will know that I basically gave the show glowing reviews, with maybe a criticism or two here and there. However, this season is different.
For starters, I will say that if you are a NEW fan who just discovered Criss Angel, then do not start with this season. The only reason for anyone to start with Season 4 would be if you actually watched every episode when A&E aired it, and you fell in love with it. If that be the case, then there's no way to go but back in time. If you haven't started out this way, go back to Season 1 and start chronologically from there.
I was going to write this review after re-reviewing the DVD, but I've seen every episode, plus the extra features. I was prompted by my inner voice to write this now, so here I am.
Season 4 has enough excitement for you if you want a thrill or two. The formula for Mindfreak hasn't changed much, but something - or should I say, someone - HAS changed, and that's the star of the show. While watching the episodes of Season 4 every week they aired, I was somewhat disconcerted by a seemingly lacking of something missing. What was missing was the Criss Angel I became interested in with Season 1 and 2, and who seemed to still be present in Season 3, although the change was already in effect by that time.
So, here are my some of my criticisms:
1. I'm lucky I have my eyesight still. With all the bling flashing in unison, I'm surprised the retinas of my eyes haven't had a hole burned through them. I said it before, but it's worth repeating: I want to see what the hands are doing. Criss has a very good slight of hand, plus he's got beautiful hands for a guy. Let me see those hands and see what they're doing. I don't want to have to wear a freakin' pair of sunglass to watch your show.
2. I don't want a tour of your garage of bikes, cars and other motorized toys. I'm a chick who has the need for speed (I AM a NASCAR fan, after all), so I sympathize for the need for things that go vroom. However, I don't want ANOTHER tour of your motorized toys.
3. I know some fans didn't like it, but I did. So, I want to know, where are the goofy characters like Justin Case and Nicky Glass? It gave a dose of humor to the show. The Homeless Dude was lame. Crissy could have kicked Homeless Dude's butt, that's how lame he was.
4. The Beard was a distraction. Enough said.
5. I could have done without the Gross Episodes That Were Not Funny. Cutting a fan's arm off or cutting into someone's skull? How about said Illusionist trying to catch a bullet and a nail going through his hand. At least when he tried to be gross before, it was funny to see people's reactions. There was something harmless and lighthearted about it - almost like: Okay, I'm going to be gross by pulling a damn piece of thread out of my belly button and watch everyone scream and squirm (Funny as Hell). Now, there's almost something sinister and twisted about these demonstrations.
The biggest thing I miss is the guy in the first two seasons. When I go back to those, there was something organic and authentic about those. There was a guy who looked good but didn't TRY TO HARD. There was this likable, friendly, smart, engaging, hard-working guy who cared about engaging you and letting his talent speak for itself. Now, it's almost a Look at Me kind of thing. It's more about: Who I'm With, What the Media is Saying, How Gaudy I Am, and How Many Toys I Have.
There are some good moments in Season 4. There's some of the funny, engaging Criss, but if you blink, you'll miss him. Four episodes really stand out for me in this season:
1. Walk on Lake - The scenery was really beautiful, and the fact that he went further with his Walk on Water theme came out with some amazing results.
2. Building Implosion Escape - You had to watch this live to really appreciate it. I really thought he was dead when that building went down. My heart was in my throat and I was insane while the whole thing was happening. It scared the dingle berries out of me. I still get chills watching it, even now, because I know how I felt while it was happening. I reflected quite a bit after this episode and it was an eye-opener for me.
3. Car Wreck Vanish - This episode would have been just as scary, if not more so, then the Building Implosion episode if it had been live. It was the first time an episode of Mindfreak ended on a scary note. Even though these episodes were mainly pre-taped and they weren't taped in the order that they were aired, this episode caused Criss to have to post a response on his Myspace page as to his safety, it caused so much chaos.
4. Silverton Final Attempt - Anyone who follows Criss' career knows that he doesn't have luck with underwater demonstrations. He tried Silverton once before in Season 3 and he was forced to cancel right before the event. It was almost humbling to see him wrestle with his demons here and to come out conquering them. It wasn't just humbling - it was inspiring and touching. This episode was almost as organic as ones in his previous seasons that it was almost out of place here.
Season 4 is far from being bad. However, it pales to every other season he has done thus far. He is the one who makes this show, and he's missing pieces of himself. I hope Christopher Sarantakos returns as the man behind the Illusionist. I miss him.
©Diane Trautweiler. February 20, 2009.