Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pilot Review: Houdini and Doyle

Houdini and Doyle (FOX)
Premiered May 2 at 9pm

I almost forgot this show had aired as I’m catching up, still nearly two weeks behind on all my television. This series premiered on ITV in the United Kingdom six weeks earlier and airs each episode at the same time on FOX and Global in Canada. This is definitely an example of international collaboration, especially since it tells the story of an American magician and a British novelist working together to solve crimes with an ahead-of-her-time female constable in London. I like the two stars with whom I’m very familiar from other work. Michael Weston, not to be confused with the lead character of the same name on “Burn Notice,” is a friend of Zach Braff’s who often appears in his projects and also memorably recurred on “Six Feet Under.” He has a very casual way about him that makes Houdini seem even more foreign but all the more cocky at the same time. Stephen Mangan is no stranger to British-American coproductions, having risen to fame on this side of the ocean for starring in “Episodes.” I’m not familiar with Rebecca Liddiard, who plays Constable Stratton, but she seems capable enough. The premise of this show is cool, with the dueling beliefs of Houdini’s insistence on trickery and showmanship contrasted with Doyle’s desire to accept the supernatural as possible. I’m not sure how they’re really going to be able to solve crimes, particularly since the police chief is out to get Stratton, ready to make a chauvinistic case against all women forever just because he wants only men to have good jobs. This is hardly a must-watch, but it is somewhat entertaining.

How will it work as a series? Both men are highly regarded by those in the community and an equal number of people detest them. How that will enable them to work alongside the most hated employee of Scotland Yard is a mystery, but like the notion of subway vibrations creating visual illusions, some of this show will require a certain suspension of disbelief.
How long will it last as a series? Reports on the American side of things have not been promising, and that’s partially due to the puzzling decision to premiere this show just as other series are airing their season finales rather than to wait a week or two more until the pre-summer schedule is light. Either way, reviews have not been strong or affirming enough to save this show, and unless British audiences really want to see more of it, I think the ordered ten episodes will be all this show gets, if even that in the United States.

Pilot grade: B-

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