A break from the Aaron Rodgers Variety Hour was needed at the start of the second episode of Hard Knocks. There is plenty of footage of him being chummy, playful, and even the passive-aggressive side of him that surely gets old with his coworkers after a while. The New York Jets and HBO viewing audience needed a fresh entertainer this week, and a great one was chosen: Oz Pearlman.
I don’t watch a great deal of network television, except for sports and my favorite television show, which I will not mention in solidarity with my WGA brethren. Reality competitions have not been appointment viewing for me since America’s Best Dance Crew, except for Iman Shumpert juking on Dancing with the Stars two years ago. I have seen acts like Pearlman before, but his brief appearance in Episode 2 made me understand quickly how he once placed third on America’s Got Talent.
I was as blown away by his skills as Michael Carter and the rest of the team were. That clip from the episode, released earlier on social media, was a card trick that ended with the deck in Rodgers’ hands turning into a goldfish encased in glass. For me, however, it was Pearlman’s puzzle trick that almost made me open my apartment door and run outside barefoot with no pants.
[Spoiler Alert: if you want to be as amazed as I was by Houdini Pearlman, stop reading now]
Pearlman called Mecole Hardman out of the crowd. He dumped a New York Jets puzzle onto a table. Pearlman instructed Hardman to put his arm roughly in the middle of the table, pick a side, and sweep half of the puzzle pieces onto the ground. Then, Pearlman had him rummage through the remaining pieces, select two, and choose one to throw away.
After that, Hardman was led to an easel. What was unveiled under the cover was a nearly completed New York Jets puzzle, missing only the piece Hardman had in his hand. Then, to top the trick off, Pearlman asked Hardman whom he believes the Jets are going to play in the Super Bowl, and what the final score will be. Hardman said he believes they will defeat the San Francisco 49ers (*triple DJ airhorn sound* bulletin board material for the rest of the NFC) 31-21.
The finale of that trick was Pearlman turning over the puzzle to reveal the Jets and 49ers logos and a 31-21 score in favor of the Jets. I was amazed enough simply by the posterboard constructed on the back of the puzzle. The rest of the trick was spellbinding and damn near spooky.
There was no point to the rest of the episode, and quite frankly the rest of this season of Hard Knocks. Nothing that the Jets can do will be as entertaining as that. Rodgers can dap up every single NFL employee, fat-shame former coaches, introduce 20-year-olds to the Naked Gun franchise — nothing will match Pearlman’s six-minute trip.
The comedown afterward was unfortunate, although it was amusing to watch Quinnen Williams toss around grown men like they were papers hurled at the rookies for possibly the worst talent show in the history of the series. If they were going to do the Stomp the Yard scene when they revealed their faces, they should have impersonated the veterans. That performance was lazy from the youngsters, but I digress.
It would be unfortunate if the highlight of the entire show was a person who didn’t even win America’s Got Talent, but I don’t know how the show can top Oz’s act.