Houdini & Doyle
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Houdini & Doyle
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Houdini & Doyle is a drama series inspired by the real-life acquaintance between Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle. The show brings the two men's very different personalities head to head by tasking them with helping to solve mysteries with supernatural slants. With one a believer and the other not, their investigations are hardly seamless, but that's where the fun (and the humor) begins. Also central to the story is another historical figure, the first female constable of Scotland Yard, who injects the show with a hefty dose of girl power and often acts as the coolest head among the bunch. This series takes obvious liberties with the tales of each character and their relationships, but it may inspire viewers to learn more about the real-life people. Expect some sporadic language ("damn," "dammit," "ass") and implied sexual relationships but little that would keep teens away.
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What's the Story?
At the turn of the 20th century in Edwardian London, a series of bizarre crimes has Scotland Yard stumped, so they call on magician Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) and celebrated author Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephen Mangan) to join in the investigation in HOUDINI & DOYLE. The two men, acquaintances with vastly different views on the plausibility of the supernatural, team up with the force's first female officer, Constable Adelaide Stratton (Rebecca Liddiard), who seizes the opportunity to prove her worth in her patriarchal workplace.
Is It Any Good?
Adventure and humor coexist brilliantly in this drama series inspired by the real-life relationship between Doyle and Houdini. Though much is fictionalized to set the scene for these frenemies' encounters, there's a foundation of truth in each one's ironic personality: Houdini, the master of illusion, must see something to believe in it; and Doyle, the creator of everyone's favorite rational thinker, Sherlock Holmes, is a firm believer in the supernatural. They form an unlikely team, made even more unusual by the presence of Adelaide, a lesser-known but nonetheless historical figure whose story is shaped to fit this reimagining.
Houdini & Doyle is sharply written and expertly presented by this talented cast, and the men's repartee is delightful to behold. As Doyle tries tirelessly to prove the existence of powers unseen, Houdini's skepticism -- and remarkable sleight of hand -- put his beliefs to the test time and again. Meanwhile, Adelaide finds herself somewhere in the middle, willing to entertain any possibility so long as it leads to the truth and the respect of her superiors. With minimal iffy content, this smart historical fiction series is an excellent choice for watching with your teens.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the characters. What do you know of their real-life counterparts? What liberties were taken with their stories for Houdini & Doyle? Are they compelling characters? Is this a genre of entertainment you generally like?
How does Adelaide represent a generation of women of her time? Which historical factors have contributed to women's liberation through the years? Have we achieved full equality in the workplace? Why, or why not?
Does either side make a strong case for or against the plausibility of the supernatural? Are you a believer? Have you ever heard a firsthand account of a brush with the unexplained?
How do the characters in Houdini & Doyle demonstrate teamwork? Why is this an important character strength?
- Premiere date: March 13, 2016
- Cast: Stephen Mangan, Michael Weston, Rebecca Liddiard
- Network: Fox
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: December 17, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Absorbing historical drama may be too tense for young ones.
Rival magicians battle in smart, dark period tale.
Smart modern detective tales with dark, morbid elements.
For kids who love mysteries
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