Houdini and Doyle, you may have guessed (or known!), is a show that reimagines and highly exaggerates the real-life friendship between Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The series, which premieres on Fox in the USA this Monday (it’s already out in England), sees Houdini and Doyle banding together in the early 1900s (though they actually met in 1920) to help an overwhelmed police force fight crime with their very particular skills. Houdini (the illusionist who, given his masterfully pragmatic take on magic doesn’t believe in the supernatural) and Arthur Conan Doyle (the storyteller with an openness to supernatural whimsy) use their fundamental ideological disagreement with surprising alchemy to the bottoms of cases that may or may not be supernatural. (The first case, for example, sees the two trying to solve a series of murders at a nunnery — either committed by a vengeful ghost, a killer nun, or who knows!)
Houdini and Doyle’s actual relationship — both to the times, and to ideas of spiritual magic versus physically explicable illusionism — is fascinating. (Late in his real life, Houdini went far and beyond to debunk the famous medium Mina Crandon, of whom Doyle was a fan, as fraudulent because of his disdain for people making money off of ersatz connections to the supernatural). Yet this series, it seems, felt the need — in the vein of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — to veer from real life fascination and turn Doyle and Houdini themselves into actual, highly fictional Sherlock characters in a supernatural serial crime drama. Since outlandish revisionism is clearly trending, Flavorwire decided we might as well predict what historical friendships will become supernatural crime fighting partnerships next. Scroll through the post for a glimpse into the crystal ball of historical-supernatural buddy cop TV future.
Freud and Jung in Unconscious Heroes
I think one criticism that was vastly overlooked when Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method was first released was how much better the film would have been if Freud and Jung (played by Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender, respectively) had had to solve a few more supernatural crimes. (Actual number of supernatural crimes they solve in the film: 0). It’s simply inarguable that it’d behoove the next onscreen story of their friendship to include far more of these. Together, the two could police the unconscious, with Freud and Jung going from mind to mind, delving into the personal unconscious and preventing every young man from, say, killing his father or retaining his anus; Jung, meanwhile, would eventually go rogue and slip into the collective unconscious — inevitably, the two would eventually battle. One of them would be played by Ben Affleck. It would be very dark.
Samuel Beckett and Andre the Giant in Waiting for Godot…to Commit a Traffic Violation
Boris Rousimoff, father of André René Roussimoff, aka André the Giant, also used to be neighbors and card-buddies with Samuel Beckett. As accounts go, young André was too tall, even as a preteen of 12, to fit into a school-bus, and so Beckett used to drive him to school in his truck; the real story (and yes, this is real) goes that the two predominantly discussed cricket, but obviously this strange meeting of Franco-Irish absurdist literature and WWF would have benefitted from some supernatural crime-solving. Since the whole of their seemingly superficial acquaintanceship developed in a truck, the TV show about the two of them solving supernatural crimes would have to be limited to supernatural traffic infringements. Since Beckett was always able to find the smothering banality even in the fantastical, the subject of phantasmal speeding tickets would surely befit the author’s own style.
Truman Capote and Harper Lee in In Frigid Ectoplasm
Onto another set of famous neighbors who totally should have solved crimes committed by ghosts. Harper Lee and Truman Capote grew up together (they met when they were five), and both became two of the most revered authors in American history. They also happened to infamously investigate a crime together — the quadruple murder around which Capote’s novel, In Cold Blood would be based, and around which Sandra Bullock and Catherine Keener would have excuses to wear bowl-cut wigs. But you know what they really should have done instead? You guessed it! Investigated crimes that involved more ghosts, for the sake of future television series, like In Frigid Ectoplasm, which follows the plot of In Cold Blood, except with, you guessed it, more ghosts.
Left: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com, Right: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Oprah and Gayle in GhO(magazine)st
Oprah and Gayle’s friendship, I’d say, classifies as a historical one, given that it dates back to the 1980s, when the two were working together at a television station in Baltimore. Imagine, with their vast news and talk-show experience, how good the two would be at narrating their own battles against supernatural crimes. And since the two are both very involved at O Magazine — Oprah being the founder and Gayle being the Editor at Large — it’d be particularly compelling to see them onscreen together fighting supernatural typos within mock-ups of lifestyle articles and recipes. Red pens at the ready, ladies, we’ve got a TV show to make, and it’s called GhO(magazine)st.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in The Whisper Inside
This one’s a no-brainer — Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s soporific, ghostly lullabies and their own near-translucent complexions would work like gang/ghostbusters to woo supernatural evildoers into thinking they were among friends — and then trap them and surrender them to the wild sentencing of the American criminal justice system. However. Given the two singers’ own past — and the acrimony that ultimately brought down their friendship — perhaps it’s the very ghosts inside them that need addressing. The Whisper Inside would be a slow and emotionally trying watch, but it could just be the thing to save HBO after GoT is over.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in The Wedding Prophecy
The plot: it’s 2005. Hillary and Bill Clinton attend Donald Trump’s wedding. The Clintons schmooze with the Donalds, lightly. They do not hate each other — in fact, Hillary is charmed by Donald’s rubbery face’s ability to imitate a variety of duck species, a knack he’s in the midst of showing off in the very photo above. Then, a hired wedding medium approaches and informs them that in 10 years, Hillary will have to stop chuckling at the rubbery duck faces for reasons of national interest. The two embark on a time-traveling, supernatural crime-fighting adventure to prevent such a fate from befalling them, in the hopes that they’ll be able to preserve their lovely, mild and down-the-line mildly incriminating acquaintanceship of symbiotic duck imitations and duck imitation connoisseurship.
James Dean and Marlon Brando in Fame is a Harness
A new, “unauthorized, unapologetic” — and thus presumably somewhat nonfactual — book about James Dean’s life due out May 1 claims that the actor’s friendship with Marlon Brando was actually a BDSM master/slave relationship. This clearly calls for an HBO show wherein the two commit consensual supernatural crimes on each other’s bodies. Their sexual encounters are watched by a voyeur-for-hire ghost named Sport, who gives absolutely zero ectoplasmic shits if people call him a starfucker.
Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett in Chuckles from the Other Side
Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett became close friends when Ball went backstage following a play Burnett was in, and began giving her mentoring words — they’d later appear on each other’s shows and share anecdotes acknowledging the testicularity of Ball’s name. So imagine: Ball and Burnett are collaborating on a sketch comedy show together, but each of the scripts they’ve received one week is missing pages — without them, the jokes are incomplete, the punchlines nonsensical. Ball and Burnett go looking for the ghost pages — in another realm.
Pythagoras and Beans in Pythagoras and Beans
Back around 500 BC, Pythagoras, Man who Helps with Triangles, was also known for disseminating his… particular spiritual beliefs to those Samos residents who were interested to hear them. One stringent rule of Pythagoreanism was that people weren’t to eat beans. All sorts of rumors have cropped up about his relationship to beans, some saying he had such an aversion to the small, beefy dots that his unwillingness to run away from his eventual murderers into a bean field was what got him killed. Others, however, allege that the Pythagorean diet avoided them because they were considered sacred — especially fava beans, whose hollow stems were thought to carry the souls of the dead from inside the Earth back into beans. Either way, his seemingly hot and cold friendship with the spiritual side dish would make for riveting television, with Pythagoras and beans teaming up to solve the mystery of the souls being sucked through their own stems. Introspective and bold.
Jay Z and Rachael Ray — Stewing Bitterness
Too soon? The unlikeliest pairing in all of “history” might be the torrid, sex-friendship between Rachael Ray and Jay Z, which is very clearly so unlikely as to be entirely unreal. However, this didn’t stop a group of Beyoncé devotees from antagonizing Ray’s easy-recipe-dominated Instagram page when Rachael Ray was mistaken for Rachel Roy — the actual Rachel who spurred speculation over a potential (though now denied) affair with Jay Z with now a infamous Instagram post. The Internet’s temporary ire against Ray’s recipes created a vivid, imaginary history that feels more thrilling, more titillating than anything real could ever be: picture a shirtless Jay reading over some scintillating contract with a British bank while R Ray prepares a smokin’ “Steak ‘salad’ with a few #bbqpotato chips for crunch!” in the kitchen. THEN, add to that the painstaking drama of supernatural crime fighting — fending off intangible emoji bees and lemons from the bizarro realm of Instagram — and you’ve got a TV show on your hands, my friends.