DAVID BIANCULLI

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HOUDINI
September 1, 2014  | By David Bianculli

History, 9:00 p.m. ET

 

MINISERIES PREMIERE: Adrien Brody stars in the title role of this new two-part, four-hour History miniseries. And he’s virtually the only star, unless you recognize Kristen Connolly, who appears in House of Cards, as Houdini’s wife, Bess. This new biography, filmed in and co-produced with Budapest, probably is going to be another History hit – but it’s largely a disappointment. Its CSI-style special effects, unless they’re revealing magic trick secrets, are inserted for ridiculously metaphorical reasons. The script by Nicholas Meyer, the novelist who wrote The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, is too reverential to its psychobabble source biography, is spotted with anachronisms, and is much too obvious in its approach. But the story of Houdini is so fascinating, it survives all that – just as it has survived previous docudramas, such as the ones starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh as Harry and Bess Houdini in 1953, Paul Michael Glaser and Sally Struthers in 1976, and Johnathon Schaech and Stacy Edwards in 1998. Part 1 of 2.

 
 
 
 
 
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