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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7 thoughts on “Murdoch Mysteries, Season One – A Clever, Progressive 1800’s Detective Show”
I started watching “Murdoch Mysteries” yesterday evening after reading
about it here. If you hadn’t mentioned that the pilot didn’t introduce
the characters (as would be expected from the first episode of a show), I
would’ve thought I’d missed an episode. That being said, they did
indeed do a much better job in the second episode of setting everybody
up and helping you connect the characters to one another. I’ve only
made it as far as that, but I like “MM” as much as I do any current-day
crime procedural. It reminds me a lot of the historical
romance/mystery series I’m fond of, so it’s a perfect show for me!
Here’s hoping Netflix picks up the rest of the seasons so I’m not left
hanging, and thanks for the review that found me my binge-watching show
for Valentine’s Day.
I as curious as to why the writer’s merely “throw” the viewer into the characters lives without introduction. I agree. The way in which the episode opens, we would suspect that we’ve missed an episode. Makes me wonder if there was a pilot film or series that didn’t make the DVD release or air.
I’m glad to know you are enjoying what you’ve seen, Jordan! I enjoy many of the historical series (like Foyle’s War along with the romance costume dramas) and modern crime drama, so combining the two genres was really perfect.
Glad this was helpful. I watched a couple installments myself last night – I’m already up to season four and still liking it. 🙂
It’s a great show, one my wife and I are binge-watching. I think perhaps you made a mistake in referring to Crabtree as Murdoch’s “prodigy” (an entertaining character, no doubt, but Crabtree is certainly no prodigy) – perhaps you meant “protege”?
Thanks for noticing. Editing and fixed. 🙂
Channeling my mom, the English teacher…thank you for your graceful response!
I LOVE Murdoch Mysteries, it’s the few CBC shows that I actually enjoy; and it’s so amazing.
I’m glad you enjoy this show, Hannah. I do as well. Plus, as a leading man, I think Murdoch’s persona is too cute! 🙂