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Tired of gritty, violent cop shows? Had enough of today’s most heinous crimes retold in thinly disguised fiction? Need a show with wit and style? Want to escape back to a more genteel time? If you haven’t discovered this polished gem, it’s not too late to get in on the action.
At first glance, Murdoch Mysteries might appear British, but, no, it’s Canadian. This excellent show is currently a huge hit in 120 countries; it’s only America that’s been slow to catch on. Set at the turn of the 20th century, in a Toronto police station, it chronicles the cases of Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) with great attention to period detail and history (especially, but not limited to, Canadian history.) Murdoch solves homicides with the aid of Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and one time medical examiner, Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy.) Murdoch’s boss, Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) provides comic relief.
Based on the novels of Maureen Jennings, the stories are all fair play mysteries. We are given the suspects and clues, as is Murdoch. By paying close attention we should be able to solve the cases along with him.
Then there are the characters and subplots. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden are in love with each other, yet circumstances keep them apart for the longest time. Constable Crabtree has an eye for Dr. Ogden’s replacement as medical examiner, Doctor Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly), and Inspector Brackenreid has a difficult relationship with his wife , Margaret (Arwen Humphreys.)
The turn of the century setting gives the show a wonderful atmosphere. The use of clothing, language, and props of the time make it all appear very believable. In addition, the Murdoch character seems to be something of a genius, often building devices that appear to anticipate later inventions not yet known, such as sonar, the fax machine, phone wiretaps, the polygraph, and many others. There are also guest appearances by numerous well-known people of the period including HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Queen Victoria, Alexander Graham Bell, Emma Goldman, Jack London, and Thomas Edison. In addition, the program sometimes blends fantastical elements into the stories, such as science fiction and fantasy, while still maintaining a completely believable, logical integrity.
Murdoch Mysteries also tackles politics, philosophy, social issues and psychology along with its crimes. Any way you look it, Murdoch Mysteries is a lot of fun. Check your local TV listings for times and channels near you.