A House Community
FOX (ended 2012)
First of all, yes, this is the review of episode 9 even though Fox US just premiered episode 1. As noted previously, the UK is way ahead of the U.S. in this regard.

Second, I skipped episode 8, "Strigoi." Not a bad episode, but nothing great and a few convenient lapses. The name of the bad guy being an anagram of "Van Helsing," the existence of vampire cosplayers in 1901, and Bram Stoker being… well, what he is in the episode, are all kind of cheap.

So there's my review of episode 8. Now on to "Necromanteion," The word translates as "Oracle of Death," and was the name of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to necromancy. Which I suppose matches the subject matter of the episode, speaking with the dead. But the term itself is never used in the episode as far as I can tell. So I guess someone was showing off their knowledge of Greek history.

As I've warned before, those expecting historical accuracy are in for a rude disappointment. Edison claimed in 1920 that he was working on a necroscope, but in 1926 said it was a joke.

More significantly, Cecelia Weiss died in 1913, which is neither the 1901 when the show is supposedly set, or the 1920s when Houdini & Doyle met in real life. Houdini was in Copenhagen when she died, not at her side in London. And Houdini wasn't the one who transported Cecelia's body across the Atlantic.

Although in last week's "Strigoi", it was suggested that Stoker was close to death. And he died in 1912. So I suppose time- wise, the two episodes are in the ballpark of each other.

Still, the episode gives us a three-pronged approach to death, and Harry is probably the main prong since it's Cecelia's death that sets most of the subplots into motion. So let's forgive the producers yet another historical lapse. A man has died in a supposedly haunted manor, impaled by swords. The murderer is apparently a poltergeist. I'm not entirely clear why Adelaide is traveling to investigate the murder, as she suggests in the opening ship scene. But Harry is heading to Buffalo, NY to bury his mother anyway. And the manor is in nearby Canada, so it kinda works.

Anyway, Edison is present to test his necroscope and see if he can talk to the poltergeist. Or the dead man. Or the family who the husband/father killed in the house and then committed suicide, giving rise to the rumor that the home is haunted. Or all of them. There's also a local paranormal investigator, an empath ("I seen great hokiness, Captain"), and Edison's minority assistant.

Since we all know nine episodes in that nothing supernatural is behind the main mystery, we immediately understand that someone present is the murderer. And since there's only one person in the neighborhood when the "poltergeist" murders its victim, the identity of the killer is no surprise whatsoever.

Where the episode excels is showing the three main characters and their reactions to the necroscope and death in general. Harry wants to speak with his recently-deceased mother. And the episode follows that other TV trope of semi-supernatural shows, with something supernatural maybe, just maybe, is really happening. Cecelia seemingly speaks through the necroscope, and despite Harry's claims of the "power of suggestion" and lots of static being responsible, it's all portrayed pretty convincingly to us the home viewer.

Also, Harry's relationship with his mother and his grief after his death was kinda weird. Hey manage to convey that without going as overboard as Harry did in real life. In real life Harry was devastated when Cecelia died. Writers Melissa Byer and Treena Hancock neatly adapt that to their story. Byer & Hancock previously did "In Manus Dei," which was another episode big on the faith vs. science angle.

Arthur the believer wants to prove the necroscope works so that he can reunite his family with his comatose wife Touie. She's not dead yet, but it seems to be more of a precaution in case she dies. I liked Harry telling him to man up and deal with Touie's condition, while at the same time Harry was having trouble dealing with his own personal family death.

Adelaide is the one taking the mixed scientific/religious approach. She fills in for Harry as the rational one near the beginning until he shows up. But she also spends some time questioning if God really wants Man to discover a way to talk with the dead. There are also questions raised about whether anyone could move on after their loved ones died, if they know that the loved ones are "alive" and well in the afterlife and waiting for them.

Peter Outerbridge (Henrik on Orphan Black, Ari on Nikita, Kinman on Highlander, and tons of other Canadian shows) plays Edison. He's... okay. Looks nothing like the real-life Edison, and they don't give him a lot to do. He's the subject of Harry's scorn because he supposedly stole some of Tesla's ideas. And Harry figures that Edison is trying to commercialize the necroscope and make a chunk of change. Outerbridge is okay in the role.

The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable. The killer gets an opening speech and then fades into the background. The empath is there for... well, I'm not sure why she's there. She doesn't serve any plot purpose except to be the obligatory "true believer." But she doesn't believe much. Edison's assistant is okay, and he gets most of the exposition until he gets murdered.

The killer's motive isn't incredibly complex and as I said, it's pretty clear from the outset who he or she is. There's a minor Columbo-like fascination in watching the case unfold and the clues come together, but no real surprises.

There's a bit of humor scattered throughout. The episode is a bit blah until Harry arrives at the haunted house. He does a few magic tricks, flirts with Adelaide, banters a bit with Arthur, and has visions of a young woman. Who... may be his wife Bess, his potential future wife on the show, even though in real life they were married in 1894, seven years before when the show is supposedly set.

Oh, and we find out what happened to Adelaide's husband Benjamin. Which is a bit of a snoozer. Not helped by the fact that the guy playing Benjamin, Jacob Blair (another "Hey, it's that Canadian actor" actor) looks like his face is sculpted out of plastic. I've seen Autons with more personality.

Overall, I'd recommend "Necromanteion." Come for the murder, stay for the early 19th century exploration of talking with the dead.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
1 Comment
There are no comments yet. Be the first by writing down your thoughts above.
Follow this Show