Friday, 15 April 2016
Houdini and Doyle
Houdini and Doyle is, like last year's Frankenstein Chronicles, a British-made show for ITV Encore, set in a chocolate box-cum-theme park version of history.
Based (in the very loosest sense) on Harry Houdini's friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it's an odd-couple crime drama, similar in some respects to The Persuaders, where Tony Curtis and Roger Moore had to cooperate to solve crimes and right wrongs way back in the early 1970s. In fact, they're probably re-booting it in similar pastiche style right now....
This time it's Michael Weston as Houdini, very rational, but also smart and knowing, and Stephen Mangan as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, reserved, British, very believing of supernatural things, but also with scientific ideas learnt through his medical background. It's a good idea for a show - Houdini was a famous skeptic, and Doyle famously gullible - and they did know each other - but as a show it's 'bubblegum tosh' at best.
Some critics have compared it to Jonathan Creek - for the similar magic background - but it's just not as good as that was in its heyday, or many other things on the TV at the moment. It just feels like it's not good enough, and while it has a few quirky touches - a rather anachronistic WPC to help them out for example - it feels too much like it's ticking boxes, capitalising on costume drama, and in particular 'Sherlock', and not enough like a creative and original piece of work.