Magic Monday ~ Houdini and Doyle, redux


I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

For readers in the US, Houdini and Doyle finally premiered several weeks ago. Okay, maybe “finally” only applies me and a certain corner of the internet—magic/history buffs who were terribly interested in what this show would be like. While Houdini has had a greater amount of traction lately and Doyle, via Sherlock Holmes, is always on the edge of pop culture, it isn’t every day that a TV show features a magician as a major character along side one the most famous authors who ever lived. So, the question is: How is it?

It is…not very historically accurate. I know, shocking! Actually, as John Cox at Wild About Harry points out, the depictions of Houdini’s tricks are very good. Michael Weston’s Houdini is the most brash, American depiction of the man that has been seen on film, and it’s likely more accurate.

The biggest deviation from history (and it’s quite big) is that the show is set in 1901; Houdini and Doyle really weren’t associated in a personal way until 1920. In 1901, Houdini wasn’t as famous. He didn’t do the water torture cell trick until 1912. Doyle, while interested in mystical subjects, didn’t become a crusader for spiritualism until 1918-ish. (John Cox has a good primer on the friendship between Houdini and Doyle.) There are also some values being put into place, mainly attitudes toward women, which would have tracked better post-WWI. So, why move the story up 20 years? I imagine to skew toward a younger audience by giving us younger characters, and to stay solidly in the Victorian/Edwardian era—the Sherlock Holmes era—that viewer are more familiar with.

I’ve been known to be grumpy about historical inaccuracies, but I rather like Houdini and Doyle. The characters are fun, the writing is good enough, and I enjoy the unwavering skepticism of Houdini. Houdini and Doyle is currently running Monday nights on FOX, or you can catch up with the show on FOX’s website or on Hulu.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’ve been in a reading slump since Readathon. I might be coming out of it, maybe in part due to my trip to the library last Tuesday.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

What Am I Writing?

I’m finished with classes! Well, mostly—I am still working though a Python course at edX… But I’m back to working on my David Abbott/Open Court project this week.

On the blog:

  • Review of Gerald’s Game by Stephen King.
  • What programming *should* teach me about writing fiction.

Have a great week!


2 thoughts on “Magic Monday ~ Houdini and Doyle, redux

  1. I have to agree with you, sometimes I get a bit annoyed at the use of excessive artistic license in historical TV, but sometimes it just seems to work, so it certainly depends on the production!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s