houdini_gallery_3-PHistory Channel’s four-hour miniseries Houdini, about the celebrated American stage magician and escape artist, begins tonight, with part 1 airing from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT. Oscar winner Adrien Brody stars as the title character.

The Hollywood Reporter provides a convenient summary of critics’ reactions to the series.

Here is my even more convenient summary of their summary: Brody is quite good, the visual effects and direction are entertaining, the screenplay is weak and historically inaccurate, and the psychological disturbances attributed to the title character are dubious at best. Conclusion: I’ll give it a look, but I’m not counting on it not being stupid.

My recommendation: watch the 1953 theatrical film Houdini, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. It sanitized the tragic and ironic stupidity of the magician’s real cause of death, but it gives the characters plausible motivations, has excellent visual effects by the legendary George Pal, and is quite entertaining and enjoyable overall.