Posts Tagged ‘Houdini’

Media Update 5/26/2016

May 26, 2016

Houdini & Doyle

I almost made the theme of this week Arthur Conan Doyle but there wasn’t anything else at hand that I had not seen. That is probably because I am a big Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle fan and I’ve pretty much seen everything else popular. Anyway, I wanted to tackle this new show since it has two of my favorite historical people in it. This show explores the dynamic between the two famous figures that was previously explored in Fairy Tale (I talked about it here). Doyle was a spiritualist and had an open mind when it came to the supernatural that sometimes fell into gullibility. This is strange seeing as how the supernatural threats in Sherlock Holmes stories were always some elaborate Scooby-Doo-esque ruse. Houdini, who was Doyle’s friend and one my personal heroes, spent much of his life debunking those who claimed special powers in order to prey on the grieving. The show is called Houdini and Doyle but it involves the interplay between Houdini, Doyle and a female constable. Houdini and Doyle act as special consultants to the police on murder cases and the show does a good job of including touches of their real history. The female constable, Adelaide Stratton, is based on Edith Smith, the first policewoman in British history which is interesting. Doyle is always running off chasing spooks while Houdini tries to prove there’s a rational explanation. Constable Stratton is caught in between and always stuck cleaning up the guys’ messes and being the muscle. It’s interesting to see a female hero during a time when suffragettes were paving the way for later civil rights battles with early victories. The show is still finding its feet but I think it has some potential and if it teaches one person to think like a skeptic then this show is worth its weight in gold.


After I watched the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film (which I found to be awesome), my interest in the old Sherlock Holmes stories was renewed. I had read a couple for school and a couple beyond that and I was interested in revisiting them. There was something so interesting about the characters figuring out what was behind all of the smoke and mirrors and just being smarter than everyone around them. The reason why I am talking about it now is twofold. First, I passed up the opportunity back in 2014 when I made a best of television list. Second, I recently watched the Monstrous Bride special episode and I was moved to talk about the show finally. The reason I hesitated to name it as a top 11 show originally was that each season has three episodes and each is about 90 minutes long. The show takes Holmes and Dr. Watson and puts them in current day London and has them solve crimes based on the original stories which were set in the 1800’s. Watson is a doctor freshly home from the¬†war in Afghanistan and Sherlock is not a normal human being. The stories are great but the real strength is the great character work. The relationship between Watson and Sherlock is sometimes infuriating and sometimes amusing but always interesting. Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are brilliant actors but they’re also supported by a great cast who knock it out of the park every episode. It’s consistently good so go watch it.


I had heard about this show a while back and, like so many other things, I told myself I would look into it later. One of the great things about this feature is “forcing” myself to watch new stuff every week and writing about it. I did not know what to expect going into this movie but the promos were intense and intrigue looked like the main keyword. The show is a fictional account of the Culper Spy Ring which was a real life group who spied for the Continental army during the American War for Independence. In the show, the lynchpin of the spy ring is Abraham Woodhull, a farmer who used to be a law student. The show follows Abraham, his allies and enemies as they all try to work against each other to either liberate the colonies or crush the rebellion. Like any good spy story, the plot is full of twists and turns and close calls and a lot of strategy. It also involves characters manipulating each other’s motivations and emotions to achieve a goal. It ends up being pretty compelling stuff and I found myself drawn into the next episode to see what would happen next. I can’t sing the praises of the actors enough. Abe is played by Jamie Bell and you can see and hear so much emotion from him in the first season but he’s also good at acting as a man who is lying to everyone. Huge shout out to the rest of the cast who play their characters perfectly but especially Angus Macfayden’s Robert Rogers who is a cunning and charming character. As I watched the first season this past weekend, I did a little research on how much of it was true. It may not all be true and I have more research to do but a lot of the people in the story actually lived and functioned similarly to how they do on the show. I definitely recommend the show.

Links of the Week:
Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling
Son Volt – Drown
Consequence ft. Caiden – That Dude
Ty Segall Band – Wave Goodbye
DJ Shadow – Midnight In A Perfect World

Weekly Updates:
– I’m almost caught up on Lost Girl and it’s great
– I finished a superb second season of Daredevil
– Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 is also awesome
– Seth Rollins is back! (Ignore this if you don’t get it)
– Probably gonna see X-Men: Apocalypse this weekend
– Watched Star Wars VII again and it was even better the second time
– I miss listening to podcasts while I drove to class
– Oh wait, I haven’t seen Elementary.
– This week’s theme is Period Drama Television


Media Update 3/31/2016

March 31, 2016


Stop reading this and go watch Spotlight right now. Welcome back. From day one I heard that this was a movie that I had to see. It was an important movie to make and it had as much support as it had opposition in its creation. The movie follows the frighteningly true story of the Boston Globe reporters who cracked the conspiracy surrounding the molestation committed by Catholic priests. It was a horrifying discovery and the story exploded. The revelations from that time still haunt the church and show how power corrupts even those who hold themselves out to be righteous. Speaking of the church, they really tried to stop this movie from being made. Several of the reporters who broke the story were on set or in contact with the filmmakers to make sure everything was absolutely accurate. The movie absolutely deserved to win best picture at this year’s Academy Awards. While Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci and Rachel McAdams did an excellent job, the standout was definitely Mark Ruffalo. The movie was enthralling and horrifying but it was such an important story to watch. If you did not check it out at the beginning of this, check it out now.

Bridge of Spies

I was kind of interested in this one since Steven Spielberg is kind of hit or miss for me. When the movie came out I kind of let it pass me by because it was another Spielberg historical piece with Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks is also kind of hit or miss for me. Now that I have been undergoing legal studies, I decided it was finally time so I sat down and watched it with my mom. Now, the real-life hero of this movie was a New York insurance lawyer who was tapped to represent a captured Soviet spy. While he was expected to put on a competent defense, he exceeded expectations and brought the case all the way to the US Supreme Court. That transitions into him being tapped by the State Department to attempt to negotiate a prisoner exchange for one of our own spies. The movie had a lot of cooperation from the DOD, relatives of those real people in the story and they really did their homework. The movie is really compelling and Tom Hanks is really on his game. Mark Rylance won an Academy Award for best supporting actor and you can really see why. We also watched the documentary about the movie and the real events and you can really see the attention to detail. I definitely recommend this one.

Fairy Tale: A True Story

This movie was confusing to me. The movie is a mostly forgotten film from the late nineties. It concerns the real-life 1920’s controversy surrounding the Cottingley fairy photos. Two young girls took obviously faked photos near a stream. They drew fairies on paper and propped up the cutouts with hat pins and snapped pictures of them. We know this is what happened because the two girls finally copped to it in 1983. The reason this is such a controversy is that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took the photographs as real and made it a huge story. Houdini (one of my personal heroes) pleaded with him to think clearly but Doyle continued to believe they were real. The story in the movie mostly follows the real life story but also adds in a pretty touching story about death and soldiering on in the face of tragedy. However, I have one problem with the movie that creates bigger problems. They put scenes with CGI fairies. The movie would have been way better if it was left ambiguous. Even if the girls thought the fairies were real we would wonder if they were playing make believe or faking it but instead they added a weird supernatural angle which tarnishes the truth of the original story. Still, there are a lot of good actors and it’s a good story as long as you fact check it.

Links of the Week:
Shostakovich – Symphony 11 – The 9th of January
Fozzy – Do You Want to Start a War
Jennifer Connelly – Ai No Monologue
Lucius – Tempest
N.E.R.D. – Rock Star

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is True Stories
– Tomorrow the A to Z Challenge begins
– Daredevil Season 2 is really great so far. Punisher is powerful stuff.
– I watched Creed again and it was even better the second time
– I almost cried during Welcome to Nightvale episode 50
– Talk is Jericho is a really good podcast as well

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