Welp, another one bites the dust – Fox has officially confirmed that the fledgling historical drama series, Houdini & Doyle, will be canceled after one season. And that news, to be blunt, sucks. There I said it.
I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical when I watched the first episode of Houdini & Doyle. I think what I found problematic was that the show didn’t initially strike me as particularly original outside of the premise.
I mean, sure, who would have imagined putting together a crime caper centered on the unlikely real-life friendship between Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? But beneath the surface, wasn’t it a lot like any other crime show currently on the air? I’m happy to say I quickly learned the answer to the latter question is a resounding “no.”
Aside from the rich visual appeal of the show (which rivals any show on air, in my opinion), I cannot say enough about the writing. The characters are so sharply drawn and the research so thorough that it is entirely believable the personas we’re seeing onscreen could be the historical figures. Given the show’s sometimes fantastical story arcs, that’s a true testament to the caliber of the writing.
Another tragedy? The fact that Michael Weston (Houdini), Stephen Mangan (Doyle) and Rebecca Liddiard (Constable Stratton) will no longer be lighting up our screens each week. The wholeness with which they each threw themselves into this project made their characters captivating.
The sad reality is that we’ve lost another smart show. We’ve lost a show that seamlessly wove history into modern fable, and challenged us to look at some of our most offensive, yet enduring, social mores through the lens of time. It is in equal turn sobering and enormously funny.
More: I can already hear the trolls accuse Houdini & Doyle of race-baiting
It is a show with a smart, strong, independent, capable female lead – and one that destroyed gender norms of her time, no less.
Why can’t we hold onto shows like this? Don’t get me wrong… I love guilty pleasures like the Real Housewives just as much as the next girl, but how come we can’t strike a better balance between reality fare and shows that actually stimulate our intellect on a deeper level?
This was one of those shows. It found the perfect line between clever and fun. If you watched it, you’re undoubtedly struggling with Fox’s decision at this very minute, because Houdini & Doyle was just so GD smart that it pains you to consider what it says about us as viewers that we’d rather let it go than say goodbye to Bachelor in Paradise.
So dare I say there could be hope for Houdini & Doyle yet?
There does exist the possibility a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu will pick up the series for Season 2 (and, fingers crossed, beyond). If we’re really being honest, it seems like something Netflix would do – and has done in the past.
Remember The Killing starring Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman? Despite being utterly brilliant, the one-hour murder-mystery drama was axed by Fox after Season 2. Then, in a surprise twist, Netflix struck a production deal with both Fox and AMC to produce a third season. And for the fourth (and unfortunately final) season, it shifted entirely to Netflix.
There’s already a petition circulating to get the show picked up somewhere, so I think most fans would agree Fox made a big mistake in letting Houdini & Doyle go. But here’s hoping their loss will ultimately be our gain when it finds a new home on another network.
After all, Houdini is nothing if not an escape artist.