Houdini - Mini series - Part 1 Review

Last night I got round to watching part one of the Houdini mini-series. My thoughts follow.....

Now it's taken me a little while to get to it because I had to convince my wife to watch it. When we got to the end of part one she wanted to move straight onto part two which I think is an indicator of how good it is (at least thus far).

I have a certain level of familiarity with the life of Harry Houdini but I'm no expert. My knowledge, in the main, concerns Houdini's "friendship" with Arthur Conan Doyle. This is in the process of getting brushed up as their association forms part of my latest book. Outside of this my knowledge is thin.

Part one of this two-part series focuses on Houdini's life before he encountered Conan Doyle and before he got involved in exposing mediums. Therefore it largely fell outside of what I knew. I'm fully aware, both from my limited knowledge and on-line comments, that there is a considerable speculative/fictional element to this series. However I don't think it was selling itself as a serious biopic and, while it takes liberties, I don't think it damages or praises Houdini where it should not.

Adrien Brody is well cast in my opinion. He's a good physical fit and conveys the ambition of Houdini along with his need for publicity. His supporting cast is very good too and none of them is bigger than their part - you can see them as the part they play rather than as an actor playing a role (if that makes sense).

There were some slightly farcical scenes - the James Bond(ish) scenes when Houdini starts using his talents in espionage were, in my opinion, slightly overdone but, despite this, helped to give you a good idea of the personality of the man.

Part two awaits me this evening. Now it is beyond reason to suppose that it won't touch on the exposure of mediums or Houdini's relationship with Arthur Conan Doyle. My enjoyment of part one has undoubtedly rested, to an extent, on my ignorance. I fully expect to be better acquainted with the events of part two. It remains to be seen if my knowledge impairs my enjoyment.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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