TV Review: History’s ‘Houdini’

History Channel rolls out its newest  miniseries on Monday, Sept. 1, this time on magician Harry Houdini, starring Oscar-winner Adrien Brody. Houdini, produced by Nicholas Meyer and based on his father Bernard  C. Meyer’s book Houdini: A Mind in Chains: A Psychoanalytic Portrait, premieres at 9 p.m. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

"The second half (Tuesday, 9 p.m.) finds Houdini working as a spy, meeting the kaiser, and jumping over London rooftops to infiltrate the German embassy...only to get trapped in a safe...on his wedding anniversary! History? Possibly. Trash? Definitely. Fun? Pretty."
—Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly

"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."
—Allison Keene, THR

"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."
—David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

"As interesting as Houdini’s obvious flirtation with death might be, the psychology, for once, pales in comparison with its physical manifestation. In other words, the tricks were amazing!"
—Mary McNamara  L.A. Times

"Spread over two nights, there are intriguing elements for those fascinated by Houdini, but the movie feels less like a gut punch than a head blow."
—Brian Lowry, Variety