THE SHOW: Murdoch Mysteries
WHERE: CBC (Canada) or streaming on Acorn TV. First 3 seasons are available on Netflix.
CAST: Yannick Bisson, Thomas Craig, Helene Joy, Jonny Harris, Lachlan Murdoch
Much as I enjoy trying to puzzle out the mystery of modern crime dramas, there is one thing that can top that: any production that combines the elegance of a period drama with the fun of discovering clues is a winning production in my book. Why (with my fascination with costume drama) I didn’t know about this mystery series earlier, I will never know.
In 1895 Toronto, Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is ahead of his time. Solving crimes with his scientific mind, Murdoch closes cases while being the bane of his superior’s – Inspector Brakenreid, existence. When attending a demonstration hosted by the Toronto Electric and Light Company, Murdoch is needed in his official capacity because a young woman was electrocuted. Assisting him is his young protégé George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and Dr. Julie Ogden (Helene Joy), who believes that the girl’s death was no accident. Julia is a modern idealist, who fought hard to earn her place as a respected pathologist. Together, the four crime-fighters keep Toronto’s streets safe.
If we were asked to judge a television show by its pilot alone, I wouldn’t have thought very highly (objectively speaking) of this show. Thank goodness we are not. The introduction to the characters offers no lead-ins and instead we have to figure out the who’s who on our own. Furthermore, the production of the first episode is all over the place, mainly thanks to jumpy camera work that does nothing to keep us focused on the story at hand. Fortunately, two episodes in, the behind-the-scenes missteps seem to work out the kinks with smoother transitions and more focused shots of the characters. That solved the awkward production reservations I found with the show, but what about everything else?
Those of you who like something with more grit will probably not enjoy Murdoch Mysteries. This is nothing like some of its competitors and is instead a more light-hearted approach to solving crimes. Between the fantastical elements involving modern inventions and the endearing characters, there are plenty of laughs interspersed with the reverence the crimes deserve. What’s unique about this popular (and award-winning) Canadian series is how clever the writing is. Murdoch’s fascination knows no bounds, which allows the writer’s to have some fun with inventions and a chance to reference many modern conveniences we now take for granted. Without creating the same kind of world as traditional steampunk would, the quality of steampunk is certainly hinted at.
Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the characters. All of them are exceptionally fun. George’s hypotheses are humorous, Julia’s attempts at jokes always result in a bad pun and William is the most proper gentleman I’ve met on TV in a long time. Plus, there is of course, a potential budding romance between Murdoch and the lovely Julia. One that I suspect will be a “slow burn” kind of relationship. Between Murdoch wanting to go about things properly (and having lost a fiancée) and Julia showing no initiative period, things are slow-going. The acting is quite good with exception to some of the guest stars and we get to meet people like Nicola Tessla or Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle. If you like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, then Murdoch Mysteries might be something you’d find entertaining. I feel no shame in admitting that I’ve quickly become attached to the detective who solves these mysteries.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Have you watched Murdoch Mysteries? If so, what do you like best about it?
Photos: ITV Studios
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