‘Houdini & Doyle,’ Meet Mulder & Scully

Fox’s British-Canadian production has a writers room in Los Angeles
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Debuting May 2 on Fox, Houdini & Doyle is a unique series in a number of ways. The show, depicting the unlikely friendship between an extraordinarily famous American magician (Harry Houdini) and an extraordinarily famous British author (Arthur Conan Doyle), is a co-production between Canada and the U.K., with a writers room—comprised of Canadian and British scribes—in Los Angeles.

Eight episodes were filmed in Manchester, England, with two shot in Toronto.

“Let’s just say we got some air miles [while shooting],” says David Hoselton, exec producer.

Canada’s Shaftesbury and the U.K.’s Big Talk Productions (U.K.), in association with Shore Z Productions, are producing, with Hoselton, David Shore and David Titcher—yes, all Davids—in the braintrust.

Fox calls Houdini & Doyle a “mystery adventure drama.” With “paranormal debunker” Houdini paired with “paranormal aficionado” Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, to solve seemingly unsolvable crimes, it may call to mind another Fox series that recently enjoyed a revival. Hoselton described Houdini & Doyle as an “Edwardian X-Files”, while the New York Times noted, in a (mixed) review: “Arthur Conan Doyle believes in the paranormal. Harry Houdini scoffs at the idea. Together they solve crimes on Fox. Sound familiar?”

Hoselton said the 10-episode order allowed the Davids to flesh out the story, set in 1901, without too much anxiety over ratings out of the blocks. “We’re able to go right into plotting 10 episodes, before we’re really judged,” he said. The pilot, he notes, is often not a series’ best episode and certainly not always truly emblematic of a show.

Filming outside the States made for some juicy tax breaks, Hoselton says, and perhaps 25-30% “more bang for your buck.”

We’ll see what viewers make of the spring-summer series, and if Houdini & Doyle has legs beyond those 10 episodes. “It’s a bit of an odd show—I don’t quite know what to expect,” concedes Hoselton. “But I’ve got a lot more story to tell—we’re just starting to peel the onion.”

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