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Review: Det. Murdoch’s dark edge

The prevailing tone consuming the first two episodes of Murdoch Mysteries this season has been one of darkness. That’s a pretty odd thing to say about a TV series that deals with a murder of the week, but Murdoch Mysteries has always juxtaposed that with a pretty large dose of humour thanks to Crabtree and Higgins, and even a well-timed “Bloody hell!” courtesy of Brackenreid.

And while those two young coppers did supply a few chuckles–along with the fantastic Patrick McKenna as Inspector Hamish Slorach–much of “On the Waterfront” parts one and two showed darker sides to characters we’ve loved for eight seasons.

Leading the pack was, of course, Brackenreid. He’s always had an edge to him, a willingness to throw a few fists around in the interrogation room if it meant getting a confession. But his lone wolf act–seeking out the O’Shea brothers with nary a badge nor a care about his own well-being in their search–was very different. When those dastardly brothers ended up dead I must admit I wondered if Brackenreid had had a hand in it.

Story-wise, the tale of corruption at Toronto’s wharf took a horrible turn and delved into adult territory with the realization that overseas women were part of a human trafficking ring that was coming out of the city docks; pretty mature stuff for 8 p.m. on a Monday night.

Murdoch, rightly disgusted by the whole thing, took out his frustrations on one man by decking him. I like it when Murdoch is willing to get his hands dirty and use them instead of his intelligence, so I was more than happy to see him dole out some 10-fingered justice. That rough side came out later when Murdoch faced off with Leslie Garland, with the former telling the latter–who had just lost his job as a lawyer thanks to Julia–that if he ever showed his face around again Murdoch would take off his badge throw some punches. I’m secretly hoping Leslie drops by so I can see that happen.

And while the boys were getting physical, Murdoch’s girls were fighting with their minds. Things looked bleak after their arrest for staging a protest in support of the Suffragette movement and Emily’s assault charged hinted she’d be spending time behind bars. That was until Clara Brett Martin entered the fray. Murdoch Mysteries’ latest real-life historical figure, played by Patricia Fagan, is the first female lawyer in the British Empire. Her spunk, willingness to play the legal game–and use a little blackmail supplied by Julia–got all of the charges against the accused dropped. (I was hoping Leslie’s little game of scaring Julia into thinking James Gillies was still alive would come back to haunt him.) Clara, another high-ranking female in Toronto’s circles will no doubt inspire Julia and Emily to push women’s rights even further this season and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBC.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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5 thoughts on “Review: Det. Murdoch’s dark edge”

  1. After seeing the promo for the premiere and hearing how much fans loved the show, I tried to watch the video on the CBC website several times but the picture would either cut out ten minutes in or freeze.

        1. To watch the app, you needs Windows 8 which I don’t have. And CBC doesn’t appear to have a mobile app. However I was able to watch the show on my phone via the website, just not on my computer. Ditto for Strange Empire although Doyle worked on my computer.

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