Theatre of the Mind ~ The Amazing Maleeni

1. "Do You Believe in Magic?" Sit back, relax, and prepare to suspend your belief. Just like every other X-Files episode.

2. California, here they will come. Again. Welcome to Santa Monica.

3. I'm with the heckler. Less talk, more action.

4. Best Non-Mulderism: "Make sure you count out the requisite number of McNuggets?"

5. Oh, yeah. That head-spinning looked *very* real. Must have cut the old CGI budget again.

6. For my next trick, I will do my Leonard Betts impression. Ta-dah!!

7. TWC1: Just how I like my Mulder: with nothing up his sleeve!

8. The Great Muldeeni and Sculleeni are definitely quicker than the eye! First plane to Los Angeles? I'll say. They must have boarded *before* Maleeni lost his head. How else to explain that Maleeni's van is still at the pier, the tourists' video camera evidence is still on the scene, and the amusement park hasn't emptied its trash?

9. If that's Mulder's Tony Randall impression, he'd better keep his day job.

10. The Great Sculleeni makes a good catch on the videotape.

11. There is *major* flirting going on here, and if you don't believe that, I only have one word for you: "Skeptic." M&S are preparing to take us on a "Magic Carpet Ride."

12. I thought Billy LaBonge was a race car driver. Oh no, that's Bobby LaBonte. Guess I need Agent Doggett to teach me a thing or two about Nascar.

13. This is a new look for Scully. Anyone else think that's Mulder's blue shirt she's wearing under her jacket? Hmmmm?

14. Billy LaBonge was named for Second Unit Director of Photography Bob LaBonge.

15. Max Malini was a real magician, and was one of the most legendary performers of the 20th Century. Born in 1875 in Poland and growing up in New York City, Malini (born Max Katz) began his career performing in saloons and eventually went on to perform for kings, queens and millionaires. Famous for his sleight of hand and puzzling effects, Malini toured the world until his death in 1942. Unlike most globe trotting magicians, he carried almost no equipment, relying on his skill rather than props to astound audiences.

16. TWC2: What a face as LaBonge does his rotating hand trick. Too cute!

17. LaBonge is definitely a master of misdirection since he picks their pockets without ever touching them.

18. Mozart and Salieri ... rock me, Amadeus.

19. Heart attack, loss of head, cold storage, but the show must go on. What a trouper.

20. If Mr. Alvarez got the tattoos he deserved, I guess he deserved quite a bit.

21. And it's probably the fact that his first name is "Cissy" that makes him so testy.

22. Oh no! Don't set your hand on fire! Last time that happened, Phoebe Green showed up.

23. I'm glad to know the Cradock Marine Bank has branches everywhere, despite that repeating robbery attempt in "Monday."

24. As always, it's obvious to everyone else that they're a couple.

25. Mulder is just full of impressions. Now he's doing Lt. Columbo.

26. Why say "outcome" when "denouement" is so much more beautiful? :::sigh:::

27. And he's got no legs. Oy.

28. Scully seems a little too anxious to go back and talk with LaBonge. Maybe she wants to get another good look at that rotating hand trick for some reason ...

29. Nice try, Scully, but Mulder knows how to appeal to baser motivations.

30. That's just what I'd like on my head ... a top hat full of dove poop. (But it makes a nice pic for the calendar, wouldn't you say?)

31. LaBonge is flirting with Scully. He thinks "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic."

32. TWC3: Mulder is *too* cute with his magical finger wiggle. I haven't seen Magic Fingers like that since "Bad Blood."

33. So the $20,000 marker just happens to be in the van? Hmm ... anyone else beginning to hear the faint strains of Scott Joplin in the background? (But LaBonge & Pinchbeck are no Newman & Redford!)

34. Cissy obviously has some issues. Let's all sing "Puff the Magic Dragon" and relax.

35. Are LaBonge & Pinchbeck skillful con men or just plain lucky? How could they be sure that the guard whose bullets Pinchbeck replaced would be the one to open the armored car? (Suspend belief, remember?)

36. It would take a lot of spit to remove those temporary tattoos.

37. TWC4: Fashion Foul! What is Scully thinking in buttoning only the top button of this jacket?

38. Cissy's got a point. Killing a man who owes him money isn't going to get him his money back.

39. TMM: Since we've got no phone moments in this episode, let's choose "This Magic Moment." How can you resist the Great Muldeeni performing a little magic for an audience of one? Very, very flirty.

40. And I'm not surprised she had that quarter up her nose. After all these years of keeping all her stuff in her pockets, she has to keep her money somewhere.

41. TWC5: After such a demonstration of sleight-of-hand, how can you say anything but Holy Flaming Cow to the Great Muldeeni?!

42. There's just no honor among thieves anymore.

43. Good thing Mulder is right 98.9 percent of the time, otherwise he would have felt pretty foolish if Pinchbeck actually had no legs. Oy.

44. "Who raised you?" Well, once you've shot down someone in cold blood, it's pretty darn easy to live with yourself for cheating at cards.

45. Couldn't Mulder have explained the denouement so I could hear him say denouement again? And I'm sure putting handcuffs on a magician will be very effective.

46. Never mind that you might have been trying to rob our bank! We gave you handicapped parking!

47. But shouldn't Cradock Marine have had a ramp before?

48. Just in case anyone was planning on doing this later, you can't do electronic fund transfers with a federal agent's badge number and thumbprint. They made that up. For some reason, the American Banking Association does not release to the public its procedure for a federal agent to access electronic transfer funds.

49. Please refer to #45.

50. A little timeline continuity! Pinchbeck's marker is dated 12/29/99, and the armored car log Scully holds up is dated 1/12.

51. Shave and a haircut ... two bits! More luck with those adjoining cells.

52. TPTB at 1013 wanted Ricky Jay for the role of Maleeni from the get-go (because he's Spotsy's favorite magician), but were told that he wasn't available. They also wanted magician David Blaine (famous for burying himself alive and freezing himself in a block of ice) for the role of LaBonge. Jay eventually agreed to play the role with one stipulation: that he only perform tricks that he normally performs on stage, no new tricks.

53. I guess those tattoos would be what they call "distinguishing marks."

54. Seeing DD with that pool cue just makes me want to hear: "They call me Handsome Mulder. This is my house. And in my house, attitudes like yours get spanked."

55. The old Ceiling Tile Askew Trick! That gets 'em every time.

56. Best Mulderism Disguised as a Scullyism: "Well ... saving up for a rainy day?"

57. LaBonge and Maleeni in cahoots. Could it be a magical conspiracy? I guess they should have arrested David Copperfield when they had the chance.

58. Presto chango! It's time for the Amazing Muldeeni to do his Lt. Columbo/"Mulder, He Wrote" impression again, complete with flashbacks.

59. TWC6: Hoo-boy! But it just now occurs to me this episode is almost over and we haven't seen Mulder's Magic Wand. What's up with that???

60. LaBonge and Maleeni would have been gone from their cells for quite some time to pull off what they did. And *no one* noticed they were gone? I did mention that suspending belief thing, right?

61. "The great ones always know when to leave the stage." :::sigh::: If only that were true.

62. TWC7: There's those magic fingers again. Can't you just picture Mulder practicing how to amaze and astound Scully with his prestidigitation skills? "Could It Be Magic?"

63. TPTB must think that we (and Scully) have the attention span of a gnat. How else to explain why Mulder feels compelled to tell Scully (and us) what EFT stands for when the Bank Manager just told us 10 minutes ago.

64. Agent Number 22791. Shouldn't your Agent Number be the same as your Badge Number?

65. So you give the two magicians a slap on the wrist and tell them "don't do that again" instead of letting them proceed and catching them in the act. I guess this is a Kindler, Gentler, FBI.

66. MSRM: You know Scully's been practicing this one too, so that she could impress Mulder with it. And impressed he is. He wants to know her secret, but she only gives him an enigmatic smile. I'll tell you, Mulder: It's "That Old Black Magic."

67. Save that disappearing thumb trick Mulder. It will fascinate Baby Will in about 2 years.

68. I think Scully had an unfair advantage in the Dueling!Agent!Tricks department. She had that uncle that was an amateur magician, after all. (Of course, Mulder said that *everybody* has an uncle who's an amateur magician.)

69. So how did Scully do her little trick? I guess we'll just have to wait and see it on FOX's "Breaking The Magician's Code VII: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed." As for Mulder, I think *he* got a private lesson on the plane ride back to D.C. and a fun plane ride I bet it was. The flirting was probably non-stop. And hopefully they made it before sunset and got to do whatever it was that Scully wanted to do when she wanted to get back to D.C. by sunset in "The Goldberg Variation." And what was it that Scully wanted to do? "Make a Little Magic."

It seems that M&S have been able to put that pesky shooting-an-unarmed man thing behind them and are once again able to smile and laugh and enjoy each other's company. We've come to expect no less on the X-Files: important, life-altering events happen one week, and are forgotten the next, never to be explored again. But there was a message in "The Amazing Maleeni": The magical skills of the Great Muldeeni & Sculleeni may not match those of say Sigfried & Roy, or Penn & Teller, but when Mulder & Scully are on screen together, magic happens. They have their own brand of hocus pocus something special that cannot be programmed, categorized, or easily referenced. I don't know why they have it. But I have a theory and I'm going to tell you how it goes: "Because that's what separates the great ones from the hacks."

So that completes my attempt at legerdemain and humbuggery. Belief may now return to normal, and I will pull my usual vanishing act. If you liked it, I'm glad. If you didn't, you can make it disappear. Just say, "Abracadabra, man."

Apologies as always,