Draven Reviews: The Works by Steve Dobson

approved Title: More Works
Artist:  Steve Dobson
Producers: The Magic Bakery
Link: The website to the Magic Bakery does not work as of the time of this review.
Retail Price: $35.00 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Length of DVD: 36 Minutes
Notes: You will need two own several props like two shells, sponge balls, cards, etc to perform these tricks.

•    Play All
•    Index
•    Bonus Features

Steve Dobson’s “More Works” is a collection of six effects for close up magicians that range in difficulty from being easy to difficult to master.  The entire DVD suffers from what I could only describe as “Editing A.D.H.D.”  This DVD is literally everywhere from in studio performances, to Steve at his house having his dog pick a card, to starting off with something they bill as a “documentary” which is more of video that crawled off a 70’s marketing reel, which had nothing to do with anything in the rest of the DVD other than yeah it’s the same guy.  Thank god the magic in the DVD is good because the editing and direction, when combined with that “classic” 1990’s magic VHS feel, comes off looking amateur at best.

As for the magic on the DVD:  The magic isn’t anything ground breaking either.  Most of the stuff in this DVD is Steve’s presentation of older material.  It’s good educational fun to watch an old pro like Steve work the crowd.  But if you’re looking for something fresh and new then you’re probably going to want to look elsewhere.  I’m not saying there aren’t some gems in here.  It’s just that you’ll have to dig through a pile of coal to find the diamonds.

So here’s what’s on the DVD:

Matrix with a Backfire:  This is Steve performing a classic effect.  Nothing new here material wise, but he is VERY smooth with his handling.

The Sponge Ball Trick:  I’m a sucker for the old Loony Toon’s portable hole gag.  Dobson’s presentation is fun, though he painfully flashes during the table production.  The flash is only somewhat masked by the red table cloth.  As an afterthought though: I don’t think it necessary to explain what a sponge ball is Steve.  I think we all know what they are, even the new comers.

The Undercover Cops: The classic cops and robber card trick.  If you’re not familiar with this routine, and your Uncle Bob who does card tricks hasn’t shown it to you a half dozen times at family gatherings then it works like this:  A card is selected as the “robber”, and four kings serve as the “cops”.  The robber goes into the building which is the deck of cards and the cops must find him.  They go into the deck in pairs.  Black kings, and the red kings.  They jump around in the deck taking turns sandwiching the selected card before it climaxes with it being in the center of the deck.  The presentation for this is not one of my favorites.
Sylvester’s Choice:  Steve’s dog is told to “pick a card” and then we get this weird segue into Steve giving performance theory about learning from books.  Holy unnatural cuts batman!  This entire section just does NOT work with anything before it or after.  It’s just oh and here’s some performance theory disguised as having his dog pick a card trick for no apparent reason.  This just didn’t make ANY sense from an editing perspective.  Granted there’s some good advice in here, but I think they really could have found a better place for it in the DVD.
The King Thing: This is a pretty awesome card trick with a crappy presentation.  You put the four kings onto the table face down, and have the audience select two cards.  You join those two cards with the four kings.  There should be six cards on the table. But when you spread them there are only four kings.  The two selected cards are back in the deck!
Frantic Location: The presentation again feels lacking on this but damn if the trick itself isn’t cool!  Card is selected and lost in the deck.  The deck is faro shuffled once, and then you get this weird first and last card shuffling sequence.  It’ hard to describe in words but what you end up with is a oil and water effect where all the black cards are in one stack, and all the red cards are in the other… except for the spectators selected black card.
Daley Revisited:   This is Steve’s presentation of a Doc. Daley trick.  Starts off like a triumph but the four Jacks are the only one’s face up in the face down deck after it’s been shuffled “backs to fronts”.  Then it turns into a two card color transposition.  Other than a horrible flash in close up framing during one of the convincer sequences this was a pretty cool trick.
The DVD comes with a bonus section as well.  You’ll get to see Steve do a studio performance of a couple effects that are taught in the DVD.  You’ll get to see him do his Matrix with a Backfire, and his The King Thing.  You’ll also see him do a live performance of his The King Thing for an audience in what looks like a bar or restaurant.  There is also a bonus trick.  Steve gives you his handling on the classic Erdnase color change.  The section concludes with Steve teaching you the Zarrow Shuffle.
So at the end of the day what’s the final verdict on More Works by Steve Dobson?  That really just depends on what you’re looking for when you go to buy your magic DVD’s.  The magic on “More Works” is nothing fresh or new, but there are a couple gems that you’re sure to love.  The editing and production value leaves a lot to be desired, but it isn’t so bad that it’s unwatchable.  The material is certainly practical, given that it’s been around for quite a while, so you know its audience tested, and having the chance to watch how a master like Steve manages his audience is quite educational.  Overall this isn’t a bad product to own.  I can’t say that I loved it, but I can’t say that I hate it either.

Edited: 11-16-2014, 11:14pm:  This is just a little extra added note.  The irony of a magician making bold statements about the importance of learning to do magic from books (and not learning from videos) teaching how to do magic on a DVD is not lost on me.  Just saying…

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 5
A little over priced for a bunch of older tricks that have been rehashed, revamped, and rehandled.

Teaching Quality: 5
Steve is a master of his craft and the chance to learn a little from him, even if it is in video format is worth it.

Video & Sound Quality: 1
This product has all the annoying look and feel of a 1990’s magic VHS tape in the compactness of a modern DVD.  The editing choices, given that Steve flashes twice that I saw, are poor.  All the art and music direction in combination with the flashes makes for an absolute failure in this section.

Overall Quality: 5
Not a bad product, but not the best out there either.  This one is pretty middle of the road.  There are some gems but you’re going to have to dig to find them.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!


About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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