Think about magicians for a second, would you? What comes to mind? Maybe you picture a moustache-twirling man with a top hat performing at children’s parties for peanuts. Perhaps the image that springs into your brain is a daredevil-like Criss Angel performing gross stunts in Vegas. Whatever your visualization is, I’ll bet it’s one in which magicians are kind of kitsch.
Enter Deception (Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV), the latest mind-bending drama to premiere this spring. The series stars Jack Cutmore as Cameron Black, a disgraced — you guessed it — magician, whom the FBI enlists the help solve some of their most unsolvable cases.
The show is a little bit like The Mentalist meets Blindspot, and the premiere features lots of stunts, prosthetics and intrigue where cases-of-the-week meet a larger overarching story. But more importantly it puts a whole new spin on magic, giving it one hell of a sexier image via the charming and charismatic Cameron Black.
“What’s really fun about the show is that there is some magic in it so we can have that fun, but we also apply it to a real-world setting,” Cutmore says. “There’s an intellectual, real-world side of it. This isn’t just for fun — people have spent an entire lifetime developing and perfecting these skills, and it’s kind of cool to see how those skills apply to the real world.”
It’s a whole new way to look at magic, really, and that’s something TV hasn’t necessarily done before. Many of us have an inherent dislike of magic in general, because… well, it’s magic. Deception mirrors that disdain when Cameron first lends his particular set of skills to the FBI. Other agents frown on his unorthodox methods, but in the end they’re just as impressed by his self-confidence and charm as the audiences will be — he has to be asked back to consult on more cases as the series goes on, after all. Otherwise there’d be no show.
Maybe it’s because the team behind Deception, which includes real-life illusionist and Blindspot consultant David Kwong, is aware of magic’s bad rap that they’re able to dispel these pre-conceived notions and make the craft that much sexier. According to Cutmore those are the types of conversations they’ve had on set, and something he and Kwong have talked at length about.
“People like to know what’s going on, and the entire purpose of magic is to not know what’s going on. People don’t like to be fooled, or to be made to feel like they’ve been tricked,” he says. “As grown ups we have a fear of childlike wonder, and that’s part of it. People reject it because it feels like a childish thing to enjoy.”
Then there’s also the fact that the people who are being “tricked” on this series happen to be the bad guys, and as an audience member it’s kind of satisfying to see that play out. How can you not root for a good-looking illusionist who is helping to rid the world of evil, one case at a time?
After all, Simon Baker applied those same principals for seven successful seasons on The Mentalist, and viewers walked away with a new appreciation for the art following that show. Cutmore thinks the same rules could apply with this series, especially as time goes on.
“I mean I’d love to be the next Simon Baker, that sounds wonderful,” he laughs. “There’s a similar thing where his skill-set as a mentalist is perceived as being something else. In the world at large mentalism is seen as a supernatural ability, but the purpose of that series was to show that it’s not. Our show has the same quality to it; we’re not pretending to have magical powers here. There’s so much hard work that goes into what these guys do. The trick is making it look easy and trust me – it’s really, really not.”
You know what hard work is though? It’s totally sexy. And if you ask me, that’s just yet another reason to tune in.