Detective Duos I’d Love to Watch

On Tuesday night, I was bored and there was nothing good on TV, so I decided to watch a rerun of a show whose title had intrigued me for a long time: “Houdini and Doyle.” From what I understood, it was about a detective duo at the turn of the century, and I love detective shows. One of my all time favourites is the updated version of Sherlock Holmes called Elementary, starring the irascible Johnny Lee Miller, and Lucy Liu as Watson. I also adore Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC version of Sherlock, which I’ve rewatched several times on Netflix, so I thought I’d give Houdini and Doyle a whirl. All I knew is that Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-American magician, and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the Scottish author of the Sherlock Holmes series, among other things. I love magic and I love Scottish fiction writers (albeit a very small group) and I had high hopes for its ability to keep me happily occupied for the next hour while Atlas slept. Unfortunately, the TV show was—and I’m being polite here—absolute sh*t. Here are my main complaints:

  • The plot was ridiculous. This episode took place in a town where everyone except the local doctor and a little girl suddenly died. People were just lying on the streets in their period costumes, or keeled over their dinners of mutton and ale. Even the dogs were dead. And so were the mice—I know this because Houdini pointed out a nest of dead mice under a porch in a very obvious way in order to prove—well, I’m not actually sure what he was trying to prove. Houdini and Doyle eventually decided that everyone died due to a large cloud of carbon dioxide which had escaped from a nearby mine and which had asphyxiated the entire town. And as convoluted as that all sounds, it wasn’t even the ridiculous part. The most illogical part of the whole thing was their explanation regarding the survival of the doctor and the little girl. I was hoping beyond hope that since the show revolved around a famous magician that there might actually be a supernatural or magic-y rationale, like they were both alien mutants with cosmic lung capacity, or immune to the biological weapon that the government was experimenting with or something cool, but no. The doctor was in bed having a nap, and the little girl was sick and was also in bed. Therefore, they were BELOW the gas cloud and escaped its nefarious and deadly clutches. At which point, I yelled at the TV, “WHAT ABOUT THE DEAD MICE UNDER THE PORCH?! ? WHAT ABOUT THE DOGS? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TELLING ME THAT ALL THE DEAD DOGS WERE TALLER THAN THAT KID’S BED?!” Yep, it made no sense whatsoever.
  • It made even less sense later, when having “solved” the first mystery, Houdini and Doyle then prevented the assassination of the President of the United States at a hotel because they had found a note with the words “King Edward” on it, and after thinking it was about killing the King, they realized it was the name of a hotel and got there just in time. All in one episode of 45 minutes (not counting all the commercials).
  • There were no magic tricks AT ALL. Considering the show stars one of the most famous American magicians of all time, there was a surprising LACK of magic-type stuff. Not even a f*cking card trick. They should have had Houdini in a locked closet, tied up with padlocked chains, racing against time to escape and thwart the assassination. Instead, he just knocked the gun out of the guy’s hand. Boring.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish, yet he spoke with an English accent. Yes, they sound different. The English always sound like they’re trying to schmooze you, and the Scottish always sound like they’re mad at you, thusly:
    English: Darling, can you please be quiet?
    But Doyle was always like “Good Heavens! What the devil happened here, my good man?” instead of “Whit? Awae wi’ ye, numptie!” Yes, I know that the actual Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was well-educated and spoke the “Queen’s English”, but it would have added something to the show if he’d used spicy phrases and unintelligible dialect. The plot didn’t make any sense, so why should the dialogue?
  • Houdini sounded Canadian and the whole show had a distinctly Canadian feel ie: it was kind of amateur-ish, like Murdoch Mysteries, where a Canadian detective in the 1890s “uses radical forensic techniques of the time, including fingerprints and trace evidence, to solve gruesome murders” (imdb) along with his partner, female coroner Dr. Julie Ogden . An episode was once filmed in the town next to mine—we were at Wine Bayou bottling wine, and when my mom found out, she ran out on us mid-cork just for a glimpse of Yannick Bisson, who plays Murdoch. I’ve never seen her move so fast. Anyway, I wasn’t sure WHY I felt like it was so Canadian, then I googled it, and it turns out that the show “has Canadian producers and comes from the same production company as Murdoch Mysteries.” Mystery solved.
  • Last, throughout the show, Houdini kept insisting that you always know when you’re dreaming because “You can’t read in your dreams.” This is patently untrue. Just last night, I was reading Facebook posts in my dreams and some of them were just as annoying as they are when I’m awake—I don’t give “amens” to anything, and NO, I will not copy and paste your anti-mask rant regardless of my state of consciousness. But the kitten videos were a-DOR-able.

Anyway, in keeping with the current trend of unrealistic detective duos, like Murdoch and his Victorian female coroner partner, or Houdini and Doyle, I came up with a couple of my own.

1) “What The Dickens!”: This show stars Charles Dickens and David Copperfield, played respectively by Gerard Butler and Shia LeBoeuf. Because why the hell not? In the show, Dickens has time-travelled to the future and meets American magician David Copperfield. Together, they investigate the disappearance of many large buildings and monuments, and battle their arch-nemesis Uriah Heep, played by Betty White, who is as immortal as any supervillain. After they’ve solved every mystery (turns out it was Copperfield all along), Dickens returns to his own time and writes a very long novel called “David Copperfield” where he makes a LOT of stuff up, (he got paid by the word, after all) but leaves out the detective/magic part because he doesn’t want his heirs to get sued by Copperfield in the future for revealing his magical techniques.

2) “Fitzgerald and Wife”: In keeping with the fine tradition of married couple detectives, this show stars F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. Every week, they are presented with a new mystery which they fail to solve because they are too drunk.

3) “Robbie and Doug”: This is a Canadian show starring famous author Robertson Davies, who almost won a Nobel prize, and Doug Henning, a Canadian magician who ran for Parliament as a candidate for the Natural Law Party, which believes that all the problems in the world can be solved by learning the art of “yogic flying”. In the show, Davies just grumbles a lot about everything because he’s 90 years old and Scottish, and Henning solves all the crimes by flying around and meditating. The show is cancelled when viewers discovered that Henning isn’t REALLY flying—it’s only special effects. Yogic flying is actually just bouncing in a lotus position, and everyone knows you can’t solve crimes by bouncing.

As a side note, I know that neither F. Scott or Zelda were magicians, but I liked the concept too much to leave it out on THAT technicality. Also Ken just read this, and got really huffy:

Ken: I can’t believe you criticized Murdoch Mysteries.
Me: I didn’t criticize it.
Ken: You called it poorly made and amateurish.
Me: That was a generalization. ALL Canadian shows are poorly made and amateurish.
Ken: The BBC is just as bad.
Me: What are you talking about? The BBC is awesome!
Ken: Next time you’re watching Masterpiece Theatre, pay close attention to the terrible production values!
Me: OK, Ken.

Ken and I would make a great detective duo:

Me: Ken. The puppy just threw up.
Ken: It’s 4 o’clock in the morning…what does it look like?
Me: Pretty solid. Doesn’t look like food. Kind of stringy.
Ken: Stringy…string…rope. Ah ha! He swallowed that little chew rope he was playing with earlier.
Me: I don’t see it around here anywhere. Good deduction.
Atlas: Better out than in.

In other news, I was recently interviewed by Jenna Neece, writer and editor. If you’d like to learn more about The Mystery of Mydangblog, you can read it here

37 thoughts on “Detective Duos I’d Love to Watch

  1. I actually really want to watch Houdini and Doyle now. Obviously I’d watch all of your suggestions too. I’m surprised the Dickens/Copperfield one isn’t already a thing…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ok, just so you know, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MURDOCH MYSTERIES!! Because, I mean who doesn’t love to watch Yannick Bisson, really? Although I’m not into period type shows, I enjoyed it. I love Elementary as well, I mean come on, Johnny Lee Miller? Lucy Liu? Perfect combination. As for Houdini and Doyle, it sounds just awful, so thank you fir sacrificing your time for the research. 😂😆

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ever since I read a spectacular science fiction book called “The Dome” earlier this year (5 stars; give it a try!) I’ve been on a sci-fi kick. We recently re-watched all of “Firefly” and are currently immersed in “The Expanse” on Amazon and “Another Life” on Netflix. Both shows are 4 stars cuz only “Firefly” and the forthcoming “Dome” series (probably HBO) get 5.

    What’s that? I know, it’s hard to immerse in two sci-fi shows at once, as evidenced by Tom always saying to Mrs C “OH! I’ll bet this is related to that one guy from the one place they found in the stasis-thingee!” and Mrs C saying, “That’s the other show; I’m thinking it’s unrelated…” several times a night. But, for some reason, Amazon has been punchy about loading so when it doesn’t load we take on another life.

    Yeah, I just did that.

    As for Lucy Liu, I haven’t seen that particular Holmes show (but I must!) but I recently rewatched “Payback” with Mel Gibson and (you guessed it) Lucy Liu as a highly paid sadomasochist and one of the foils to Mel Gibson’s amazing (and ludicrous) character “Porter.” “Payback” is one of those really lame and fun movies I watch from time to time for guilty pleasure. “Get Shorty” is my all-time favorite of those.

    I could go on, and I usually do, by my fingers are tired from typing “quotation” marks.

    But, honestly, “The Craig-Whytock Mystery Hour” is a really cool name. Makes me … ahem … “Smile.” 😉

    Liked by 5 people

  4. barbaramullenix says:

    I have a few tv.. shows that I’ll watch as ‘time killers’. That’s why I watched Houdini & Doyle while it was new. Each episode had something so ridiculous in it that I actually watched in anticipation of saying – look! That couldn’t possibly have happened in that era! Also, I was confused at first until I googled their relationship – the original movie “Houdini” (1930’s – 1940’s?) made it seem that Houdini believed in paranormal activities – specifically, the afterlife. In the t.v. show, he was a FIRM disbeliever and Doyle was a full-on believer. Also, as an aside, Houdini did performances while in England in the theater (in real life), but was never a ‘street performer’, so other than a female con artist who tries to seduce Houdini, she seemed to be the only one with potential ‘abilities’ in the t.v. show, and she was only in about 2 episodes. A long time ago and only one season that I recall. Thankfully.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Carbon Dioxide is HEAVIER than air and would sink and pool in all the low spots of the land. This is a thing and has happened in the past. Perhaps they screwed the physics and the girl and doctor should have been sleeping in lofts high and away from the hypoxia inducing miasmic cloud.

    I must have skipped the intro to your alt-duo-crime-solver shows as when I read about Dickens and Copperfield I believed it was real. And I thought, the real Copperfield is tall and dark, how the hell could Shia… Oh, now I get it. Fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oooh, right. I’m not one for the costume drama stuff but I feel Ken is being a little harsh. Most UK TV is made on a shoestring budget, favouring scripts & acting talent over most other stuff 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Let’s reboot or reinvent Cagney & Lacey, with you and I starring in Toronto instead of New York! It could be poorly made and amateurish, but we’d save a ton of production costs writing it ourselves and improv-ing the rest. I can’t remember which actor played which role, but I remember thinking in my youth, that they were smart and badass. And who’s more smart and badass than we are? (you’re not supposed to answer that one for reals)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m waiting for “Atlas & Me”, in which you and Ken separately go out with Atlas on a walk and witness a crime, which the three of you solve together. Given your posts, I believe it can boozy and humorous. Cheers

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Congratulations on your interview! I really enjoyed it–thanks so much for including it! I wasn’t writing much in my 30s, either. I was writing a textbook and a colleague always told me to do fiction, but I didn’t have any ideas. It wasn’t until my mid 40s that I started to have ideas. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. That’s too bad about the Houdini, Doyle series. I read a book about Houdini’s life and found it to be quite interesting. I agree with Ken about Murdoch, I like the show because of the tongue in cheek humor. Crabtree is always inventing something that seems useless, but is a foretelling of what exists now. I agree with you on most Canadian programming, though it seems to be improving over the years. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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