Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Houdini & Doyle - It's a wrap!

Last night FOX aired the tenth and final episode of Houdini & Doyle, bringing to an end Season One. No official word yet whether we will see a second season, but I certainly hope so.

I also hope you've enjoyed my reviews and fact checks of each episode. I know some may have felt this was a 10 week distraction from "real" Houdini history, but I feel like a major event such as a television series IS part of Houdini's history. We would certainly now consider the Tony Curtis Houdini movie part of what has helped keep Houdini's name and fame alive and thriving in popular culture. I see the same potential with Houdini & Doyle.

Time will tell how many people this series motivates to pick up a book about Houdini or a buy a magic trick. In my own reviews, I've tried to anticipate and answer questions about the real Houdini raised by each episode. This series provided a great opportunity to teach, and in the past ten reviews, we've had a chance to discuss Houdini's religious beliefs, reincarnation, opium use, Robert-Houdin, his parents, presidents, the Water Torture Cell, buried alive and, of course, his friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I've also personally had a blast on what's been a year and a half journey. Since the series was first announced on March 19, 2015, I've been aggressively following every development from production through promotion. I was excited to participate in a press junket at the Magic Castle, and thrilled to have been invited to live tweet the premiere beside star Michael Weston at Fox Studios. This post actually marks my 100th Houdini & Doyle related post.

As to the series itself, I greatly enjoyed all ten episodes. This was a quality series that showed respect for Houdini and provided a nice biographical sketch. And considering the amount of Houdini projects in development in Hollywood, we could have wound up with something much harder to stomach -- Houdini as a ghost cop anyone?

I also really enjoyed Michael Weston's take on the young Handcuff King. I said in my first review that he gave us the most likable and accessible Houdini since Tony Curtis, and I still believe that. For many, he IS now Houdini. And Rebecca Liddiard is a true joy and an actress I hope to be seeing more of.

So a hearty congratulations to everyone who made Houdini & Doyle a reality. Here's hoping we can do it all again with a Season Two.

Please share your own thoughts on this series in the comments below.

My reviews:

15 comments:

  1. I never wanted to write about this but since it is being discussed here I think it's fair game.

    Back in the early 70's prior to me becoming a Houdini nut (but at the time a teenage magician) my father told me he knew Houdinis next door neighbor. At the time he was a teenager but knew Houdini well. He told my father Houdini would walk all around the neighborhood at all hours generally very unkept, clothes visibly wrinkled and dirty. Also he added that Houdini typically "smelled" as if he rarely bathed.

    On a positive note it was also related that he was always ready to perform magic tricks for kids in the neighborhood during his "walkabouts".

    Perry from NJ.

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    Replies
    1. He smelled!? That's it, I'm folding this blog. Never meet your heroes. ;p

      Actually, I think that's a great story, and I have heard HH would take long walks to do his thinking.

      Delete
    2. Long walks will do that to you. I bet you could sell his sweat if you had provenance.

      Delete
  2. I hardly watch television anymore, but this show got me and my entire family to tune in. History buffs and mystery lovers are so rarely given a quality program to enjoy, and forget Houdini fans. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with this show, and despite the limited exposure, it seems to have gotten a lot of people interested in the real Houdini, which is always a great thing.

    From what I've heard, the producers are going to do all they can to keep it going for more seasons, though I doubt that FOX will continue to be involved -- though that isn't too much of a negative in my opinion!

    -Meredith

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    Replies
    1. The producers say they want to continue and, yes, FOX doesn't make this series, so it could go elsewhere. We'll see.

      Delete
  3. It has already been noted in the literature that HH wasn't attentive to his own hygiene and grooming. I believe it was Gresham who noted that Bess had to get him to change his underwear and put on fresh clothes?

    He seemed to have shaved just about everyday, because with the exception of one photo, he always looked shaved. I've never seen a photo of HH with a 5 0' clock shadow.

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    Replies
    1. The Bess underwear thing actually goes back to Kellock. I addressed this in my episode 10 review, but the discussion has slipped into this post.

      Delete
    2. My apologies, I haven't read your reviews since I don't watch H & D. Just not feeling it.

      I'm sure you're right that HH's sloppy grooming goes back to Kellock, and I think it's been retold down the line of successive bios. Make no mistake about it, Houdini was not metrosexual.

      Delete
    3. No problem. But I snuck some good Houdini history into those reviews in the "Just the facts" section. Some stuff I haven't covered elsewhere. Tried to make those reviews interesting to those who haven't watched the show.

      Delete
  4. As much as I enjoyed the series (and I did, a lot), it really kind of degenerated into a Victorian "X-Files." Harry was never really "Houdini;" that is to say, an escapologist or magician; he was more of a well-dressed skeptic than anything. Other than the USD escape in the pilot and the scene where he did card tricks for the Doyle kids, I can't remember him doing anything "magical."

    I appreciate the parallel reality aspect that gave them room to play, but missed Bess - and that last episode brought up questions: Is McKinley alive? Why did Harry return to England?

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    1. Agree with you on Houdini's skills not be showcased enough.

      Delete
  5. Love the way you always clean up my replies, its all in fun, Johnny. See ya

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, Anon, I couldn't gauge the tone of that one. And I get sensitive when it's directed at another commenter -- if I can't tell, then I worry they can't. But thanks for letting me know.

      Delete
  6. When my husband and I found out that Fox was having the Houdini and Doyle mini series, we could not wait to watch it. It was fantastic and could not wait for the next episodes each week! So hoping please that it will come back for season 2.

    ReplyDelete

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