Houdini & Doyle

Guest post: Jerry Peterson

Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were, in real life, friends.

But the friendship ran aground when Houdini debunked a Boston medium/spiritualist whom Conan Doyle greatly admired. That story is told in Christopher Sandford’s 2011 book Houdini and Conan Doyle: Friends of Genius, Deadly Rivals. Knowing that, or at least the part that the two world-famous men were friends for a time, it’s not surprising that someone should make the two crime-solving buddies . . . and thus the television series Houdini & Doyle that launched here on Fox this month.



Stephen Mangan | @StephenMangan
as Arthur Conan Doyle


The early reviews are tepid, with London Globe & Mail reviewer John Doyle calling the show “an excellent time-waster.” He enjoyed it as entertainment, but sees it as formulatic and much too much like The X-Files, “with Doyle being the Mulder who believes the truth about the supernatural is out there, and Houdini being the Scully who believes in science and sees jiggery-pokery where Doyle sees ghosts and goblins.” London Telegraph reviewer Jasper Rees was less kind, saying of the show, “It was not quite clear who this hokum is for, beyond people fond of storing their brain in a jar.” Variety‘s TV critic Maureen Ryan says spring gives the television networks “a chance to clean out their attics and get rid of dust-gathering items they have no real use for,” that Houdini & Doyle is one of those items.

The show is a joint British/Canadian/U.S. production created by David Hoselton and David Titcher. Hoseton, a Canadian film and television writer, wrote for House for a year before becoming one of the show’s producers. Titcher, a U.S. film writer and producer, created and wrote the three The Librarian television movies (2004, 2006, and 2008) that starred Noah Wyle. Titcher then spun the movies into the television series The Librarians.

Back to Houdini & Doyle

The series airs on Fox on Mondays at 8:00. Will there be a second year? Depends on how many of us are in the audience . . . on the ratings. I’m not sure I want to put myself through the second episode. The pace of the first was plodding and Houdini, as presented by Hoselton and Titcher, is so full of himself that he’s a character I cannot like.

Jerry Peterson is the author of the mystery novels Early’s Fall and Early’s Winter. He is a pilot, former school teacher, and journalist. You can find him on JerryPetersonBooks.com. He lives in Wisconsin. 


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