Houdini and Doyle: The Maggie's Redress
May 3, 2016 2:34 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

American Harry Houdini is in England, where he and Arthur Conan Doyle team up with the first lady on the local police force, Constable Stratton Adelaide. In their first adventure together, they investigate the murder of a nun from one of the notorious Magdalene Laundries. A witness claims that the murderer was a young woman tormented by the nun - but she's been dead for 6 months.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Broad recaps: AV Club review of the general premise of the show, plus specifically the first two episodes (no spoilers for either episode), and The Guardian's recap for its US TV section, which gets one point wrong - the UK airings are up to episode 8, with #9 to air on May 5th.

My take-away: I'm more in line with the AV club: it's a fun show, in the general television lineage of The Knick and Ripper Street, The X-Files and Due South -- cheeky period piece + odd couple + police procedural + supernatural elements. The Guardian article is more harsh, saying it's too formulaic and is too much of a period-piece X-Files, and that there are "more charming and vital" procedural shows currently out there (which, good reviewer, which?).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on May 3, 2016

I'm pretty worn out on quirky procedurals, and this didn't do enough to catch my attention. Neither of the leads were particularly likable. Hopefully it picks up a bit in the next week or two.
posted by 2ht at 3:04 PM on May 3, 2016

I will always enjoy a quirky police procedural, and my husband is an amateur magician who has been incredibly excited about the premise (and geeking out about historical facts about the Houdini and Doyle friendship) ever since he heard about it a year ago.

We missed the first hour, but I don't know how much that mattered - it was easy enough to get the idea anyway.

I found it to be all I needed it to be - quirky and charming and Houdini was just enough of an ass. My husband was a little disappointed, but has hopes that Howard Thurston might show up as Houdini's arch-nemesis at some point.

Anyway, I'll totally watch more of it.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:54 PM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love Stephen Mangan on Episodes, and I'm generally a sucker for the Cop/Not-A-Cop formula, so, I'm in. I don't really disagree with any of the Guardian's criticisms, but I'm interested in seeing where the show goes anyway.

My main wish is that they go more Myth Busters than Ghost Hunters. Though I love fantasy/supernatural genre stories, when it comes to real-life people claiming to be psychic mediums and preying on the vulnerable I'm firmly on the 'debunk the bastards' Houdini side. I hated it when Numb3rs and The Mentalist both had episodes with a character whose psychic ability couldn't be thoroughly disproved within the show. It was so frustratingly at odds with the premises of each series.

Based on this pilot, it seems like they're going to try to play the middle - no full blown supernatural crimes, but keep some minor inexplicability. Which bothers me for the sake of real dead skeptic Houdini.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2016

I don't want to give away any of the future episodes, but I think the relationship between all three lead characters develops nicely, with a good balance of focus on the crimes and the personalities.

no full blown supernatural crimes, but keep some minor inexplicability. Which bothers me for the sake of real dead skeptic Houdini.

In the end, he and his wife made a pact that he would send a secret code to her after he died. Every Halloween year for ten years after the Halloween he died, his wife Bess held a séance to contact Harry for that code, but she never received any confirmation from the other side. I think he's the sort of skeptic who wants to believe. He was a Christian who believed in heaven, so he hoped there was some way to communicate back to Earth (A Magician Among The Spirits, Harry Houdini, 1924). In fact, in that book, he states he has made a similar pact as to that with his wife with "fourteen different persons," including some very close to him.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:37 AM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wait, Houdini was Christian? Pretty much everything I've ever read about him suggested that he remained at least culturally Jewish his whole life. Did he convert when he married Bess?
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:58 AM on May 4, 2016

I guess I always assumed that Houdini's secret-code pacts were less about actually hoping for contact after death and more about preemptive debunking of any mediums who would try to make claims about his ghostly communications and prey on his loved ones after he wasn't alive to tell them to fuck off. Thanks for all the links, filthy light thief (here and in your FPP), hope to have a chance to give them a real read at some point.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:27 PM on May 4, 2016

I stumbled across it scrolling through cable TV on demand menus. It did bring to mind The Knick. It was fairly enjoyable, though it seemed like there was a bit of hand-waving towards the end.
posted by larrybob at 1:32 PM on May 5, 2016

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