Murdoch Mysteries: Writer Dan Trotta discusses Julia’s news and Higgins’ growth

Spoiler Alert! Do not read this interview until you have watched the Season 11 episode entitled “Biffers and Blockers.”

So many fans have told me how much they’ve enjoyed Season 11 of Murdoch Mysteries. I agree. The writer’s room has hit a grand slam with regard to storylines, taking our favourite characters in bold new directions while keeping the core intact. That’s difficult to do, and yet showrunner Peter Mitchell and his crew make it seem easy.

Monday’s newest instalment, “Biffers and Blockers,” was memorable for several reasons. At long last, Julia said the words William and Murdoch Mysteries fans have been waiting for: she is pregnant. Secondly, the series was able to bring a beloved character back from the dead (sort of) by introducing us to Dr. Rupert Newsome (Cyrus Lane), identical twin brother of the late Roger Newsome. And third, with Constable Crabtree off in Paris, Higgins stepped forward and got some major airtime not only with regard to the murder of a cricket player but his social life with Ruth Newsome as well.

We spoke to the episode’s writer, Dan Trotta, about everything that went down.

I was thrilled to see Cyrus Lane return to the show as Dr. Rupert Newsome. How did the idea to have Cyrus come back as a twin come about?
Dan Trotta: Everyone in the room loved the character and everyone loved working with the actor. I didn’t have a whole lot to do with that decision. The character of Roger was just so fun to write for. There were a couple of pictures of him in the writer’s room. I know Jordan Christianson was a big fan. So, the class system was a big part of the episode and it made sense to have him as part of it. And the trick then was how to distinguish the brothers, and that was a fun part of it.

Cyrus Lane brings a lot to the role and has really created something special.
That guy is a fantastic actor. It’s the first time that I’ve worked with him. Comedy, I find in my limited experience, can be tricky especially when you really try to bring the funny. First, it’s on the page in the script. But, there is a security and a confidence that he has in his ability that makes him hilarious. What I noticed in the read-through is that his timing is fantastic. And he does seem to give the other actors a lot of space. He has a ton of charisma but doesn’t take over a scene, although I totally think he could easily if he wanted to. I was really looking forward to those scenes and seeing how they’d pop with him in them.

The return of a Newsome wasn’t even the biggest news of the episode. That was reserved for Julia revealing she is pregnant. How did it feel to have your name on this script and include this huge moment?
I was totally surprised that I was allowed to do this. It was an honour and a real responsibility. And I felt a responsibility to get it right because I know just how important it is to people. We’re seeing these characters in a situation we’ve never seen them before, really. So there was kind of a freedom in that. The old rules didn’t really apply, in a way, but you also want to honour the truth of these characters. I was kind of floored and it wasn’t even a really huge discussion. It was just kind of like, ‘Dan, this [episode] is yours.’ The way it all unfolded was certainly something we talked about but I’ve been consistently flattered by how much trust that Pete and the room have had in me.

A pivotal moment like this is usually saved for a season finale. Any comment? We’re only on Episode 11, so something big must happen in the season finale.
[Laughs.]

Now, just because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean she’ll carry the baby to term, right?
I suppose that’s a possibility, Greg.

You mentioned that class is a big part of this storyline. We got to see Higgins outside of the office, with Ruth, and you fleshed out more of that character. It must have been fun to do that with Lachlan Murdoch.
Honestly, he is such a blast to write for. To me, he is one of the funniest characters on the show and I thought that before I even started. And I thought it was hilarious to have this clash that he was going through. He slipped into that world so naturally. There is an element of British humour to it and an obliviousness to this character that I have always found fall-over funny. That, to me, was really what was so fun about it. Writing for clueless characters is just a blast. It’s the best.

It was neat to see him clearly besotted with Ruth and, at this point anyway, keep the worlds apart and not speak down to the lads in Station House No. 4.
So far, yes. [Laughs.] I think that’s in its infancy.

Did you know anything about cricket before writing this episode?
Dude, nothing. Nothing at all. That was a tricky part. The thing that lends itself to cricket is the clash and class distinction. I was writing and I would leave something like a strikeout blank and then go back and research the actual word. Instead of batter it’s batsmen. [Laughs.] It was a bit of a process. And, to be quite honest, I’m still not sure I know exactly how it works. I read your preview and I had the same questions you did. I still not sure what a match can last more than a day. I still don’t get that.

Where were the cricket scenes filmed?
Oh man, that was Shanty Bay. It was stunning. [Attention history buffs: the cricket scenes were, according to this website, the summer estate of Titanic survivor Lt. Col. Arthur Peuchen.] We got these two perfectly clear, gorgeous days to film. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of real estate I’ve ever seen.

What did you think of the episode? Are you happy for Julia? Let me know in the comments below!

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

 

 

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of 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 hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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42 thoughts on “Murdoch Mysteries: Writer Dan Trotta discusses Julia’s news and Higgins’ growth”

  1. Unfortunately Greg, I have to agree with your suggestion that Julia may indeed lose the baby. I’ve reflected on this, because we know the producers don’t want this to become the Murdoch Family. They want it to continue to be, above all, a crime and mystery show. I also read a quote from Yannick Bisson, on his Twitter account a few weeks back, about having to go to a very dark place. It seemed apparent, he was talking about the scenes, toward the end of the season, that he was then filming. I immediately put two and two together and came to the conclusion that there may be a miscarriage and besides Julia losing the baby, he might almost also lose Julia. That would be an emotional ending to Season 11, don’t you think? The romantic in me would love to be wrong, but I think I’m too cynical at this point.

    1. I would love to see Julia and William have their baby!! After many years a happy ending would be fantastic!! It’ll always be Murdoch Mysteries 🙂!!!

    2. Just because they have a baby doesn’t mean the baby has to be featured in every episode. I really hate episodes that cause terrible sadness. The stories need to stay about mystery and crime. Personally, as a side story I think it would be so funny for the Murdoch’s, Ruth and Henry and George and Nina all have babies around the same time.

  2. I am eager to see how pregnancy was handled in that time. Does William want Julia to stay in bed? Does she have trouble at the morgue with all those chemicals? Does she get cravings? What medicine was prescribed then? How did doctors know if the fetus was in good health? Were there corsets for a pregnant mother? What did maternity fashion look like then?

  3. I would really like to see, just once, a main character of a leading show be happy. As a fan we have fallen in love with all the characters, but it truly would be nice to see how Murdoch juggles having a child, wife and career. Same with Ogden..can/would she be a working mother? I think that would be far more fun and interesting than to have her lose the baby.

    1. The one thing I love about Murdoch Mysteries is the little bits of history they have slid in over the years or the discovery of certain historical events or creations. The new baby would be the perfect introduction of daycare in the new century. That way Dr. Ogden and Murdoch could still be proud parents and the good Doctor can still show up for work every day. It’s also nice to see the Newsome character brought back to life. For me it’s where his family is from that’s important. Mimico, which stands for “home of the wild pigeon”, has its own little bits of history. Wild pigeons suddenly, for no reason, became extinct in the late 1800’s and The Loblaw family use to own a large farm located in the area which is now the Lakeshore/Royal York Rd intersection. Just an FYI…..hope the show is around another 10 years at least.

    2. Since my brother & his wife, and now my nephew & his, have struggled with infertility, both becoming parents through adoption, I hated it when Roland was relinquished to his father—my nephew and his wife had that happen with their little girl after having her for 10 months—it would be so sad to see this fictional couple go through another loss.

  4. If the idea is for Julia to lose the baby, there never should have been the cross-over with The Republic of Doyle where William’s grandson appears.

  5. I am happy for Julia and William. Since this is TV and homrone therapy is not unknown in the 20th century–why not?
    But mostly wanted to congratulate Dan Trotta on the BEST LIEN in the whole script: “Good thing old Ruth is as thick as she is!
    Im glad I wasn’t drinking anything at the time–ti would have some strught out my nose :)

  6. Wonderful episode. I guessed Shanty Bay from the get go. Always want to know where scenes were filmed. Which reminds me where was the roller derby episode filmed? As an old roller skater from Mutual Arena/The Terrace. Also guessed the scene with the stone bridge as Cambridge. Been there many times. Hope Murdock will be around for many more years.

  7. I’ve been watching Murdoch Mysteries from the beginning. I love William & Julia together. I almost stopped watching when they returned the baby. If she miscarries I will stop watching. Please let them have a healthy baby.

      1. TOTALLY agree with Roni & Brenda. Real life is depressing enough, no need to make it worse by watching reruns of heartbreaking scenarios.

    1. I agree. Julia’s character wants so much to give murdoc h a baby. I thought the end of season 10 was very dark. I didn’t like it. I am an optimist and want things tied up in neat, pretty bows!!!

    2. I will stop watching it too. This show is supposed to be about murder mysteries. I see no need for julia to lose the baby. That would hurt the rayings as i am sure a lot of people will stop watching. Too much tragedy like that i real life.

  8. I agree as well that a baby will not shift direction of the show but add to it. We have been rooting for this couple since the beginning. Why bring more heartache. Mysteries have been solved successfully time and time again whilst including a side story , mostly humorous, to keep the balance. Adding a baby, especially since the couple insists they want to be Modern, would bring so many possibilities.
    Having Julia lose the baby is predictable. And that’s one thing this show is not.

    1. Agreeing with Christena, Debbie & Lori. No need to kill off Julia’s baby. MM has enough “dysfunctional” members to toy and break viewers’ heart with. I accidentally discovered MM & got addicted to it (watching over & over quite a few times on Hulu & DVD) since it was nice, entertaining & different from most current series (attractive actors/actresses, beautiful costumes, funny, no cussing, no major LBGTQRSG liplocking, … PG rated enough). If i need tear jerking shows all I need is read daily news. Just hope I don’t have to fast forward & move to other mystery series when things got too depressing.

  9. I agree with Christean. Making Julia lose the baby is predictable. That’s the first comment My sister and I said simultaneously said to each other as we were watching the show. We both said that they better not make Julia lose the baby. We’ve been fans of the show from the beginning. Allowing them to have the baby will not hinder the show at all. If she loses the baby, we will not be watching the show anymore. It took the writers forever to finally get them married and that was in the least to say, very annoying. So annoying, that my niece, who was also a big fan of the show, stopped watching it.

  10. Totally miss crabtree . is he coming back. Murdoch mysteries would not be the same without him. Like that higgins has a bit more of a storyline now. I also like the crossovers with Frankie Drake. Love the Canadian History and the authenticity of the shows . the costumes , props and hats.

  11. I have been a Murdoch fan for several years, so I was pleased when I saw that cricket – a game I have followed for 40 of my 70 plus years – was to be featured in this week`s episode. Although the story as far as mystery solving and Julia`s upcoming new arrival was fine, unfortunately, the cricket segments at the start of the show were mostly complete nonsense. Of the first three batsmen at the crease, only the guy who got bowled was out for any discernible reason. The third batsman – who had to be removed so the “exploding player“ could take strike – swiped at the ball and missed but the ball continued on toward the fine leg boundary because THERE WERE NO FIELDSMEN BEHIND THE BAT – no wicket keeper, no fine leg, possibly no long leg nor third man either. These “professional“ players who were too incompetent to hit the ball should at least have been running numerous byes from the “gentlemen`s“ poor field placement. Yet the “Serbian count“ bowler was posturing as if he actually had done something and the fielders were capering about like fools as if there had been a dismissal. Nevertheless, I did enjoy enjoy the other aspects of the show and found unexpected comedy in the cricket passages.

  12. I started watching Murdoch in their first season and have continued to do so. However I an finding I turn the show off before the ending more often of late as I find the story lines just to
    out-there. Far to many gimmicks (such as time machines etc.). What happened to just a good mystery. As for William and Julia again too many issues in their lives. She leaves, marries someone else, her husband is murdered and she is accused of his murder and sentenced to hang etc. etc…..Please just give us more interesting cases and forget the personal intrigue. Somehow the show has lost its luster for me and my husband. I hope to see some changes for better scripts. As for Julia now being pregnant that serves a purpose in the show but if
    she looses the baby again too much negativity going on. We need some good cases for Murdoch to solve and get away from the personal lives of everyone.

  13. you know, i was just so happy that W and J were expecting that I didn’t think the writers would have her get pg, only to have her miscarry. imho, that means next season, she’s depressed, and the flirty, silly, romantic antics of this season are gone. it will be s10 all over again. it was good but not gr8. so far, s11 has been gr8. s12 will most likely be the last so why can’t they just be happy?? now, every episode, i’m going to wonder if she loses the baby and i won’t be able to be happy about the here and now. this sucks!

  14. Don’t kill Julia’s baby. That would be too much bad news yet again. Let them and their fans have this joy! I would be completely turned off otherwise.

  15. obviously you cannot please everyone at all times i absalutely am a fanatic fan the william and julie story is heart warming keep it that way williams way of solving crimes is brilliant as for brackenreid his part is perfect never change him crabtree how could we not love him from the begining his persona has been the most endearing margaret is just right for thomas nina is very sweet also so keep personal lives on an even keel let william solve the crimes but also let him and julia be happy

    Christine marsh australia

  16. All episodes have been written and filmed so our pleas are pointless. That being said, I would hate for anything to happen to our beloved couple; it was bad enough when they had to return Roland to his father.

  17. I know one thing for sure on my part, if Julia dies, I am not watching that show anymore. Murdoch is good, he is at the center of the show but the character, let’s face it, is rather a dull fellow. She has always brighten his life and the show in general. She slowly brings him out of his shell. So, yes chances are she might lose the baby but I hope they have enough sense to save her, unless of course the actress has been offered another gig she could not refuse. Let’s hope not.

  18. Julia losing the baby would be way too dark -it is a great show and it doesn’t need that storyline Joy works better than sadness most of the viewing audience would prefer it And probably stop watching otherwise

  19. I thought she was sterile from the abortion so glad the treatments worked. I just hope all goes well and there’s a baby in the next season.

    1. A botched abortion would more likely make it difficult for a woman to carry a baby to term, or possibly even past the first trimester. She most likely would need to spend her pregnancy on bed rest. Not sure how an abortion would simply make her not ovulate suffiently, but I’m not a doctor.

  20. Did I miss something? When Higgins was in the cricket match, he was suddenly rich with a man server. How did he suddenly get wealthy?

      1. Thanks. It seemed like he was suddenly in a different class due to him suddenly having money. Wasn’t sure if he inherited some on his own, not Ruth’s.

  21. Too predictable if she loses the baby. I want to see the side episodes, and everything William invents for the baby lol. If it’s a girl I think she will be the princess of the constabulary.

  22. Please don’t take the baby from Julia and William. It would be so much more interesting adding a baby you can’t give back with this couple. Add an eccentric housekeeper/nanny into the mix and some murders to solve and there’s nothing to stop them

  23. I really hope they don’t have Julia’s baby die. That would just be too sad. I’m tired of sad events and I’d appreciate it if there could be a happy ending to their quest for a family.

  24. I wouldn’t be surprised if she suffered a miscarriage, but I don’t think they’ll actually do it – not after losing Roland (though I could never get behind the name!) I don’t think hormone treatments were very successful back then, though – so I’d like them to explain her ability to get pregnant in a different way, like she may not have been completely infertile before, it just took much longer or that the hormone therapy helped, but something else did too.

    I hope she carries to term and has a baby girl (with a bearable name!), as they already almost had a son and Brackenreid has all sons. It would be nice to see how Julia and William raised a daughter, probably into science and curiosity, as I feel it’s fairly straightforward how they’d raise a boy. It would also be interesting to see how they allocate godparents, daycare and such, as it would be very disappointing for Julia to quit or have a proper nanny. Heck, I’d love to see Dr Emily Grace come back for a few episodes!

    As for nice names that would have been used back then, just because I love name suggestions:

    Elizabeth/Eliza
    Grace
    Rebecca Jane
    Emma
    Helen (after Hélène Joy)
    Alexandra (“Alex” for short, as she grows up)
    Alice
    Evelyn
    Victoria
    Lily (vague resemblance to William, without being directly linked)

    I’d like them to have a baby (seriously preferring a daughter, at this point!) and one good way of handling it would be if the baby ages a couple of years in each new season. Then it can show them at all stages of parenthood, without needing an unrealistic extra 10+ years/seasons.

  25. Please don’t have her lose the baby at this point it will make the show depressing instead of something to look forward to!! Most people would stop watching the show

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