Given Arthur chance, this could be really good, Harry up and make it!

Firstly, apologies for the pun. I like a good one liner and that sums this post up quite well.

I usually like to write about my reactions to the latest film news but I’ve found Hollywood to be rather predictable and uninteresting of late. While browsing though I came across an idea that made me sit up in my chair, though it was television and not film.

Screenrant is a website I highly recommend. A fellow blogger is running it on his own back and he’s just at the point where he’s able to make enough money from the site to quit his job, so please lend your support by giving him traffic. A recent story linked back to one he reported in February that I missed at the time and it literally blew my mind. The link is here and below is a summarising extract:

The cable network has secured the rights to Among the Spirits, a mystery show centered around legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini and British novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle…[It] will play out in 1920s America, as the duo solves suspicious murders with the aide of a female police detective. According to Syfy original programming president Mark Stern, the show will draw heavily upon the “Steampunk” artistic aesthetic that’s become popular in the last few years.

I must admit, that is one of the most original ideas I’ve heard in years. I don’t even see why the steampunk styling is necessary, even as a stylish period piece this could be epic. The two of them were friends in real life and I can see them working as a great partnership; one fully controlled and capable of manipulating others while the other takes a more neutral observational stance. Add steampunk to that and you have a sure fire hit on your hands. Even if it sucked, it would still be fun to watch just to think about how to do it better.

It is however the title that concerns me slightly. It refers to a book published by Houdini debunking spiritualists, as he travelled around debunking the fakers. He wanted to distance his tricks and sleight of hand from anything like the mediums that were popular of the period. Doyle however, did not believe Houdini and stuck to his own Spiritualist beliefs. Doyle said in his own book, the Edge of the Unknown, that he believed Houdini to be using paranormal powers, despite what Harry had written. While this is an interesting story and one worth telling, as it shows two men’s resolute faith in spite of their friends, I worry that no adaptation could present this disagreement neutrally. I would be ok if they side with Houdini, but the decision to go Steampunk and distance themselves from the real world makes me worry that they could go down the spirits route.

I think though that this aspect is to be far less of a focus than I fear Doyle only believed in Spiritualism in later life so there is much that this series could do before they historically fell out. It sounds like something to look out for, and one I will most certainly keep an eye out for.


2 thoughts on “Given Arthur chance, this could be really good, Harry up and make it!

  1. I’ve noticed that when sci-fi tv series start to get too religious they tend tog et pulled by the channels as viewers get a little upset, hopefully they will learn from the very often repeated mistakes and just leave the spiritual side of things alone. There is no need to alianate one people group because the writers decide 3 series in that they want to express their beliefs more strongly.

    It’s kinda one of my pet peeves, Stargate sg1 did it, and so did The 4400. I wouldn’t have minded if like battlestar galactica they had done it from the first series so I was aware it would be like that.

    1. chrysalisloall

      I think faith is an odd one to cover in sci-fi. There has to be a factual base on which the ideas are built, and thats often hard with faith as its all about seeing the unseen. I think the key is as you say having a consistent approach. In BSG they played out two separate possible world faiths and some characters accepted them, others rejected them. This meant they could focus more on people’s approach to faith as opposed to the answers to the big questions. I think when they suddenly try to answer these it fails, as that isn’t what you expect something with scientific roots to do.

      I do think there is more of a call for science and spiritual unions. Particularly ones told from a christian perspective which goes some way to showing that we don’t just dismiss science because we disagree with some of their theories. I can’t actually think of a christian sci-fi in any medium, perhaps there should be one. 😉

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