Sunday, May 1, 2016

Houdini & Doyle Investigate the Uncanny!!!

I recently reviewed Airship 27’s “Amazing Harry Houdini, Vol. 1” (see April '16), which includes the story, "The Spear of Destiny" by James Palmer. The tale teams the famed escape artist/magician with his raconteur friend, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on a mysterious sojourn. Though the story has no official link to the new series, “Houdini & Doyle”, the sources share a similar thread: real-life legends investigating the arcane. 

In keeping with "Amazing Harry Houdini'"s spirited and historical tone, the Canadian/U.K. series (produced by David “The Librarians” Titcher and David “House" Shore) offers much of the same weird wonderment throughout, blessed by distinguished leads: Michael Weston as Houdini; Stephen Mangan as Doyle; and as a special treat, Rebecca Liddiard as the pioneering Constable Adelaide Stratton. The show’s concept allows the principles to investigate off-kilter cases that Scotland Yard can’t quite crack. (It should also be noted that the investigations will unintentionally play upon ideas already established in "Amazing Harry Houdini"; for example, Bram Stoker appears in a later episode, though under different circumstances than in Jim Beard's "Houdini Brings the Curtain Down".)

As with their actual counterparts, the series' Houdini and Doyle are an unlikely duo, possessing different outlooks and approaches toward the real and unreal, and of course, their variances spill over into the mysteries they set out to solve. For the series' sake, they’re rather like early versions of “X-Files’” Scully and Mulder, but with an arguably more quarrelsome bent. At the same time, the show never entirely abandons its Sherlock Holmes ambiance, which gives the cases a proper, underlying chill. 

“Houdini & Doyle” airs Monday, May 2 on Fox (after “Gotham") and will offer ten episodes (a filler, in essence, for the station's late-spring scheduling), but if the ratings prove positive, we can pretty much anticipate more. As an admirer of both men, I have my fingers crossed that this one will continue, but if not, I'll be more than appreciative to savor what I can.


  1. Quite enjoyed the intro to Houdini/Doyle's fictional investigation spree. It felt rather like a Holmes adventure and even had a tinge of Houdini's serial distinction in at least one part.

    I expected Stratton to project Lois Lane spunk, but her downtrodden yet diligent approach was realistic. I think she'll work well with the guys and be easy to cheer on as the series' skilled underdog.

  2. "Spring Heel'd Jack" was a fun installment, considering I've long held a fascination toward the entity. I liked the open ending, too. Would be swell to see a sequel if the series were to extend beyond one season.

  3. "Monsters of Nethermoor" had the most "X-Files" feel to date. Enjoyed its "alien" angle; and it touched upon a Wells concept beyond "War of the Worlds" (with a trace of "Superman and the Mole Men"), but I won't risk spoiling the matter any further. It's suffice to say that it all worked well with the show's characters and concept. I'd like to see more episodes along these lines.