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Houdini - S01 E01

Biography . Drama

From humble beginnings at circus sideshows to sold out concert halls in Europe, Part 1 of Houdini follows the rise of the boy Erich Weiss as he becomes the man Harry Houdini, master escapologist.

Episode Title: Part One
Airs: 2014-09-1 at 09:00 pm
  • Mark A. Perigard

    Many of his tricks here are explained, and the means of execution may only increase your appreciation for his genius. Less convincing is the miniseries’ speculation that the British intelligence agency MI-5 recruited him to act as a spy in the run-up to World War I.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Darren Franich

    History? Possibly. Trash? Definitely. Fun? Pretty.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Allison Keene

    Houdini takes a big bite, and its journey is often fun and fantastical, but its goofy sensibilities would have benefited from a sturdier structure, and what it wants its audience to take away from its subject’s life story is unclear. That said, the miniseries nails the most important thing: spectacle.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Genevieve Valentine

    In itself, Houdini’s script is solid.... However, whether Meyer-penned or network-mandated, the miniseries’ voice-over drains a critical amount of energy from the miniseries.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • David Hinckley

    The production, and Brody, work hard to elevate Houdini’s routines to metaphor.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Lori Rackl

    If only Houdini could have waved a wand and made half of this too-long miniseries disappear.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Gail Pennington

    Adrien Brody is impressive as Houdini in the History Channel's two-night biography, and many of his stunts are re-created (and explained) in fascinating detail. But the miniseries, a co-production with Hungary, Houdini's home country, is too slow and too-often hokey to rate a rave.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Bruce Miller

    Showing how [Houdini] got the bug, learned his craft and went from sideshow oddity to world-wide celebrity, the film holds interest and makes you want to know more. Then, it pulls back the curtain and shows the locks, keys and stunts he uses to open all those seemingly inescapable devices. It’s a bit like knowing a gift before you unwrap it.

    Sioux City Journal Full Review
  • Tony Dayoub

    Houdini lacks emotional depth.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    The filmmakers mostly do an adequate job of sticking to known facts, but can't help giving in to somewhat hamfisted telegraphing throughout the film.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    Brody’s performance is borderline capable within the constraints of an at best mediocre combination of writing and story construction. But Harry Houdini’s incredible story still awaits a master re-telling. And this one doesn’t even come close.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Kristi Turnquist

    Instead of bringing us closer to what it felt like to be the great Harry Houdini, we instead hear Brody adopt a tough-guy tone as he rattles off clichés that sound like anachronistic film noir parodies.

    The Oregonian Full Review
  • Neil Genzlinger

    Adrien Brody, was recruited for the title role, and he’s a treat to watch. The script, though, is less than he deserved.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    Houdini is so dense with awful dialogue--the kind in which every character says what they’re thinking and feeling in remarkably self-aware terms whenever they’re given the opportunity--that it buries the elements that actually work here, including a playful performance from Adrien Brody and the occasional sense of spectacle. Full Review
  • Diane Werts

    Narration clunkily tries to fill the narrative void. But it's blandly delivered.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    This is dour, grim and labors to get through a second act that clocks in a half-hour shorter than part one.

    Variety Full Review