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There is a relatively new show on the SyFy network called Wizard Wars. The format is somewhat of a ripoff of cooking shows like Chopped and Iron Chef; two teams of magicians are each given the same set of three or four ordinary items; for example a recent show featured luggage, a cape and a white rabbit.

The two teams have an hour to create a set of related magic tricks using all of the items. Each team then performs their routine in front of a live audience plus a four-person panel of judges that includes Penn and Teller.

The winner of the first round then against two of the resident "Wizards"; same thing, create magic tricks from ordinary objects and present them to the audience and judges. If the winning team from round 1 beats the Wizards they get $10,000.

My question is this: after the teams are given their items to create a routine around, they essentially disappear back into one of two "magic workshops" where there are a lot of other stock items to pull from (again, much like the cooking shows) for an hour. Except for a brief peek at what they are working on (which seems pretty hokey), he audience has to wait around for an hour before they perform their routines. This happens twice.

How is that handled? I wouldn't want to wait around for two hours in the audience and do nothing. I've been to tapings of live-audience sitcoms, where there would usually be unavoidable delays, and the "warm-up" would come back out and chat with the audience. But this is a little different.

Or is it? For example do they have someone else come out and do magic for both hours?

I would be interested in hearing from any audience members from this show, or anyone connected with the show, how they handle this. Just curious. Great show (I love magic of all kinds).

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    Is it possible they interweave filming two shows? So, contestants for show 1 are introduced, they go prepare while contestants for show 2 are introduced; then while show 2 contestants prepare, the show 1 guys come back and do their tricks, then while the winners prepare for round 2, show 2's contestants show their tricks, etc? – user568458 Mar 15 '15 at 12:18
  • Well... If Penn and Teller (and other magicians) are there.... Maybe they have a magic show. – Catija Mar 15 '15 at 14:44
  • user568458 might be onto something; this behind the scenes article reveals that episodes are filmed back to back. It's also not really an hour, and the magicians get some info in advance and assistance. – Walt Mar 16 '15 at 22:19
  • @Walt That's an excellent link. Please make your comment into an answer you can be in the running for the bounty! – tcrosley Mar 16 '15 at 22:25
  • Thanks, but I've never seen this show nor attended it... Probably best to wait for a more informed answer. – Walt Mar 16 '15 at 22:30
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A behind the scenes article at Reality Blurred shed some light on the actual process with the help of magicians Shimshi, Penn and Teller from the show:

Episodes film back to back: All six episodes are filmed over three days, so it’s back-to-back magic performances.

There are unseen magic acts: Both sets of competitors create routines for the second round, but just the winning team performs. That leaves unperformed acts...

The magicians get help: Also not disclosed on camera is that the magicians get assistance. “We have help,” Shimshi told me. “The wizards and the challengers both have help... "

How much time the teams get varies: Each team of magicians, whether wizards or challengers, was given information about the props beforehand, and then given a set amount of time to actually produce and rehearse the act. [...] The show makes it seem like the tricks are created between act breaks, in maybe an hour or two. Penn said “that’s so unimportant. [...] It’s still improvisation.”

So it's possible that the audience gets to watch not only performances from both teams but also from 2 episodes, and some things are set up in advance (there are also pre-taped segments).

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I THINK (but don't know) this is like the Q bit in a James Bond film. The team gets their stuff plus extras, spends their hour preparing, then the audience bit is done as part of filming the acts.

The link to Q is they used to film that last, once all the sequences with the gadgets were filmed, so that was how Q knew just what to give Bond.

  • That would work for the first round -- but for the second round, the team playing against the Wizards isn't known until the first round has been judged. I doubt they would have both teams prepare routines for the second round, and only one team's effort actually used, but I guess that could happen. Will be interesting if anyone else chimes in. – tcrosley Mar 14 '15 at 18:29

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