TV Week

March 11, 2018

The Daily Herald TV Week

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Adding a dash of excitement, a charismatic star and just a hint of romance can create TV magic, and one promising new series seems to have it all. Jack Cutmore-Scott ("Coo- per Barrett's Guide to Surviv- ing Life") stars as magician Cameron Black, who works for the FBI after his magic career is ruined by scandal, in "De- ception," premiering Sunday, March 11, on ABC. While his 15 minutes of fame may be over, Black's skills are uniquely suited to help the government catch elusive criminals as he uses his knowledge to con- found and deceive others. The premise may seem far- fetched, but creator and pro- ducer Chris Fedak ("Chuck") explained the logic behind it during a Q&A panel at 2017's New York Comic Con. "So many of the theories of magic also play into crimi- nality," Fedak said. "If you're going to rob a bank, if you're going to steal things, you are using that same skill set to trick people and deceive people. Cameron brings his own perspective to many of the cases and the crimes that we're going to come across." Fedak and his cohorts have recruited some top talent to make sure the tricks and illu- sions in "Deception" ring true. Famed illusionist and cross- word expert David Kwong has signed on to co-produce and also serves as a consultant on the series with fellow magi- cian Frances Menotti. Kwong, Menotti and other magic ex- perts have worked extensively with Cutmore-Scott to show him the ropes so he'll look convincing. The magicians also design the complex illusions in the show, which, according to Fedak, are as true to life as possible. "When we look at each one of our stories, we want to do as much magic that's real that we can," Fedak explained. "The other thing we want to do is [ensure] everything that happens inside the story — our illusions, our deceptions — are all things that can hap- pen in the real world." Producers have also en- listed the help of an FBI con- sultant to keep the program as accurate as possible. While serving as the FBI's first "consulting illusionist," Black works alongside no- nonsense FBI agent Kay Daniels (Ilfenesh Hadera, "Baywatch," 2017), who's initially skeptical of his techniques. The chemistry between these two delivers a healthy dose of humor, thanks to Black's sometimes naive antics and Daniels' straight- laced reactions. In contrast, her colleague, FBI Agent Mike Alvarez (Amaury Nolasco, "Prison Break), is a huge fan of magic and recognizes Black right away. Special Agent Deakins (Laila Robins, "Murder in the First") is even- tually won over by the dis- graced magician as he proves his worth to the FBI, thanks to a little help from his team. Black's "magic" team in- cludes makeup artist/producer Dina Clark (Lenora Crichlow, "Being Human") and Jordan Kwon (Justin Chon, "Twilight," 2008). Gunter Gustafsen (Vinnie Jones, "Escape Plan," 2013) is widely regarded as the world's greatest illusion builder. They may be new to law enforcement, but the ragtag crew and their fearless leader teach the FBI agents some new tricks. All the while, Black hopes to right the wrongs that have been done to him. The ensemble cast sup- ports a tried-and-true recipe for prime-time success. "Decep- tion" features a formula that's paid off for broadcast networks in the past several years: a charming male lead (Cutmore- Scott) is paired with a strong-yet- exasperated female lead (Hadera). ABC's "Castle" and CBS's "Elementary" are just two examples of other recent series that have enjoyed rat- ings success thanks to similar plots. But there's a show to which "Deception" bears even more resemblance — industry insiders have already been comparing ABC's new magic drama to CBS's highly successful drama "The Men- talist" (2008-2015), which chronicled the life of disgraced "psychic" Patrick Jane (Simon Baker, "The Guardian") as he solved crimes for the Califor- nia Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alongside Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney, "Prison Break"). Interestingly, "Deception" shares a behind-the-scenes link with "The Mentalist." Emmy-nominated composer Blake Neely, who composed music for "The Mentalist," is also the composer for "Deception." Not only that, but one of the show's execu- tive producers, David Nutter, directed the pilot episode of "The Mentalist." Along with Fedak, Nutter's fellow execu- tive producers include Greg Berlanti ("Blindspot"), Martin Gero ("Blindspot") and Sarah Schechter ("The Flash"). Like "The Mentalist's" sub- plot involving serial killer Red John, it appears "Deception" may feature an ongoing plot in addition to the weekly cases. At New York Comic Con's panel, Fedak dropped hints about a mystery woman and her reasons for doing what she does to Black. Details about the nature of Black's transgressions are sketchy, so audiences will have to watch the new series to find out why Black has become a target. With illusions, humor, explosions and much more, the new drama seems to have something for everyone. Fans of such crime procedurals, magic and action won't want to miss the premiere of "De- ception," airing Sunday, March 11, on ABC. cover story The art of 'Deception' Magician solves crime in new ABC drama Lenora Crichlow in "Deception"

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