This review is also posted on Movie Pilot 😀
TV networks are constantly making a series of tough decisions. New shows need to be picked up, and existing shows must be cut or renewed. Each network is continually seeking hit shows, trying to achieve higher ratings. Yet, lately, it seems as if networks are hardly giving new shows a chance, sabotaging them before they get a chance to grow and gain an audience.
Houdini and Doyle is one such show. Despite finding a solid fan base it is uncertain whether or not it will not be renewed as a result of low ratings. Yet, I truly believe that if given a chance at a second season, the show could really go somewhere.
There’s a lot to love about season one:
What It’s About
Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle join forces with Constable Adelaide Stratton, Scotland Yard’s first female officer to solve cases in turn of the century London.
History Made Relevant
Houdini and Doyle are two of the most famous names in entertainment history and this fictionalized version of their real life friendship proves that they are not lost to the history books. Houdini’s magic is as exciting as ever as he performs his death-defying escapes. Doyle’s struggles to continue writing and defend himself against fans following the death of Holmes are both funny and relatable. And last, but definitely not least, Adelaide’s battle against sexism is poignant and inspiring. Yet the show doesn’t stop there. From Thomas Edison to Bram Stoker, this show loves to make the most of it’s time period.
A Solid Cast
A show needs strong characters, and Houdini and Doyle has not one, but three vividly imagined leads. As the show progresses, you are awarded glimpses into the characters’ lives, who emerge as complex and dimensional. Houdini is arrogant, compassionate and sensitive, Adelaide unflinchingly brave and determined to prove that women have nothing to prove, while Doyle is astute, highly devoted to his friends and family and always eager to learn.
While each character would shine alone, the crime solving trio is a delight to watch. Their constant bickering and witty banter is hilarious and the show contains some terrific one liners.
Houdini and Doyle strikes the perfect balance between mystery and paranormal. Each episode begins by presenting a case that seems from the start to be unsolvable, leaving you racking your brain for a solution. Yet, through careful deduction, the paranormal begins to fall away, and a mundane solution emerges. Yet, fear not, not all is ever solved, and each episode leaves behind just enough to keep you wondering.
The show bears some parallels to The X Files, with Doyle the believer and Houdini the man of reason, but with Adelaide, who is willing to believe if she has proof, the dynamic is altered enough for the show to be fresh and unique.
Not All Fluff
While the show is undeniably light hearted, there are some darker themes. When the show opens Doyle’s wife Touie is in a coma, Adelaide’s life is heavily veiled in secrecy and Houdini is facing his internal demons. These three characters are frequently plagued with self doubt and have many personal battles to overcome, adding both a sense of realism and intimacy.
Furthermore, the cases they investigate all include a measure of social commentary making them not just creative, but meaningful too. Xenophobia, cults and asylums are among the many topics blended into the plot.
How I Envision Season Two:
Behind the Scenes
Season one ended with Doyle set to resurrect Sherlock Holmes and in season two the show would reveal his writing process and the road to publishing and success. We would see Houdini designing his magic tricks and enacting even more daring escapes. Adelaide would be tasked with petitioning the police for a raise and recognition for her excellent work solving cases, exposing the bureaucracy inside the station.
Touie would recover from her coma, and would struggle to rejoin the world that moved on without her.
Houdini, Doyle and Adelaide’s friendship would be tested, but would ultimately grow stronger. Likewise, the romance between Houdini and Adelaide would be explored.
There are more than enough ideas for cases available, and I predict that in season two, they will be even more creative. From technological advances to strange occurrences to conspiracy theories, anything is fair game. Travelling the world, on their new found success as detectives, there are many local legends that are waiting to be explored such as the wendigo in the Canadian wilderness.
Season two could easily be superior to season one, all it needs is a chance. The ball is in ITV’s court now, and all that’s left to do is await the verdict.