Tuesday: I am befuddled by detectives
On Tuesday night, I was bored and there was nothing good on TV, so I decided to watch 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. My current favourite 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 and that little hobbit who plays Watson in the BBC version of “Sherlock”, 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 fictions writers (or should I say “writer” haha) and I had high hopes for its ability to keep me happily occupied for the next hour. 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 super lung powers 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?! 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?
Scottish: HAUD YER WEESHT, CHEEKY WEE BISSOM!!
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, regardless of my state of consciousness. But the kitten video was 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 (because he’s a hunky Scotsman, of course—I wouldn’t watch it otherwise) and Matt LeBlanc, the guy who played Joey from Friends. 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. Because why the hell not? After they’ve solved all the mysteries (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, 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 like 90 years old and Scottish, and Henning solves all the crimes by flying around and meditating. (Sidenote: For my readers outside of Canada, it’s important that you understand we DON’T have a two-party system. In fact, when Henning lost the election as the Natural Law Party candidate, he came in 6th out of 10. He beat the Marxist-Leninist Party, the Abolition Party, an independent candidate, and the Green Party. We also have the Communist Party, the Pirate Party of Canada, and the Marijuana Party. I am not sh*tting you. The Communist Party wants to make Canada a Communist nation, the Pirate Party is against copyright infringement and parrot abuse, and the Marijuana Party is all about Constitutional reform and women’s rights. Obviously. No, I’m kidding—all they care about is weed. My favourite party is the Rhinoceros Party, whose platform in the last federal election included creating a lottery where players could win a seat in the Canadian Senate, which is like winning “Cash for Life”, and pledging immediate orgasms at the ballot box to anyone who voted for them.) Anyway, back to the show. It was cancelled when viewers discovered that Henning wasn’t REALLY flying—it was just special effects. If you’ve actually ever seen yogic flying, it’s actually just bouncing in a lotus position, and everyone knows you can’t solve crimes by bouncing.
(PS: I know that neither F. Scott or Zelda were magicians, but I liked it 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!
Ken’s very patriotic, at least about TV. Another thing I love about him.)
Thursday: Plagued by aliens
At the beginning of June, K went on a bus trip to Washington D.C. She also went to 6 Flags Amusement Park, where she won a life-size, blow-up purple alien. It’s called “Trumbo”.
Me: Oh! You mean like Dalton Trumbo, the American writer and director who was unfairly blacklisted by McCarthy for being a suspected Communist?
K: What? No, our bus driver’s last name was Trumbo.
It was bad enough that half of K’s prom pictures feature her and her assorted friends hanging out with Trumbo, but SOMEONE in the house (Ken) keeps posing him in very human positions, and in very unsettling places. The first time I came downstairs and Trumbo was staring out the window with his hands on the sill was bad enough. Then he was wearing a hoodie and standing by the door, looming over me on the hall tree, or lying prostrate on the floor in front of the door after a “night on the town”. Currently, he’s leaning casually against the couch in the back room. The other day, my aunt was over and thought it was K wearing a costume, that’s how realistic it looks. So, in the near future, if I suddenly disappear, you’ll know I was abducted by aliens. And no jokes about anal probes. I’m serious, Ken.