A few months ago, a reader recommended the Canadian detective show Murdoch Mysteries. I searched on IMDb and realized it’s been on 15 seasons and still going strong! I’m nowhere near caught up, but I’m enjoying the early years.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Murdoch is a Toronto detective ahead of his time. He uses cutting-edge science and forensics to solve murders at the turn of the 20th century. One of my favorite aspects of the show is the appearance of historical figures. They’ve had some great ones and today I’ll talk about one appearance in particular.
Harry. Harry Houdini. Soon everyone will know my name!
While there are plenty of Murdoch episodes to choose from, I want to devote this Tea V Talk to Season 2 Episode 4: Houdini Whodunit.
I am fascinated by magic tricks. Probably because I cannot do them myself. I did a ton of research on the subject for my book, Trap Door Murder, but luckily my narrator was as stumped as me when it came to explaining how a trick worked. The best thing about illusions is how something can look like magic but have the simplest explanation. So anytime a TV show does an episode with a magician, I’m sold. Let alone the Great Houdini!
In this episode, a young Harry Houdini is visiting Toronto and performing at a local theater. Several of the show's core characters are in attendance, coinvent witnesses for what is about to happen...
Houdini isn’t famous yet and his act isn’t quite as polished. But he’s already a master illusionist and an expert in sleight of hand.
During one of his signature escapes, the jewelry store next door is robbed, and the guard is killed. You’d think being locked in a safe on stage for eleven minutes would constitute a solid alibi. The police captain is less convinced and starts to suspect the pesky magician of the crime.
In true Murdoch fashion, the detective doesn’t take things at face value. As he starts to pick apart the crime scene, he wonders if the robbery itself were an illusion, and if Houdini is being set up to take the fall.
And to add another layer to an already interesting storyline, Dr. Julia Ogden’s sister is performing as Houdini’s assistant, and causing all sorts of trouble.
I don’t want to spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t seen it, because this is a must-see, in my opinion. I love how Murdoch chips away until he not only discovers the whodunit but also the howdunit.
Who are some of your favorite historical figures to appear with Murdoch?