Everything about Murdoch Mysteries, eh?

Tonight: 19-2, Murdoch Mysteries, Ascension, Gangland Undercover

19-2, Bravo – “Property Line”
Housing evictions pit the squad against a community in crisis.

Murdoch Mysteries, CBC – “High Voltage”
The electrocution of a man leads Murdoch back to inventor Thomas Edison.

Ascension, CBC – Episode 4
Christa becomes the focus on mysterious happenings on Ascension and Krueger gets closer to the truth about the project.

Gangland Undercover, History
Chronicles infiltrator Charles Falco’s mission inside one of America’s most notoriously violent outlaw motorcycle gangs and gives a rare look inside this historically infamous organized crime gang through the eyes of an undercover investigator

Interview: Murdoch Mysteries author Maureen Jennings sounds off on origins episode

It just makes sense to have Maureen Jennings write the origins episode of Murdoch Mysteries. After all, the author created him. Back in 1997, long before Yannick Bisson straddled a bike and drove into viewers’ lives eight seasons ago, Jennings published her first Murdoch mystery novel, Except the Dying.

In 2000, Shaftesbury Films optioned the novels for television, which led to three TV-movies with Peter Outerbridge in the titular role. On Monday night, the franchise came full circle as Jennings’ script for “Shipwrecked” brought Outerbridge and Bisson together on the small screen. We spoke to Jennings about the episode and her thoughts on the state of the franchise.

I know we’re eight seasons into Murdoch Mysteries with Yannick Bisson in the starring role, but is it still weird to see your creation on television?
Maureen Jennings: Oh, no. He does a fabulous job. It’s his Murdoch now, that’s for sure.

Obviously the show has evolved over the years and has changed from what has been in your seven novels. What are your thoughts on the evolution of the franchise?
I feel very lucky because it hasn’t strayed that far over the last eight years. Early on, someone had a brilliant idea—it wasn’t mine—to move us up in time. You can put out the books in for or five years and move the fictional timeline by a few months. But in terms of television, we’re advancing a year which gives a lot more scope to what was happening at the time. I think it was a really good idea.

Do you watch the show every week?
Oh yes!

How did the whole idea for Monday’s episode, William Murdoch’s origin story, come to be?
I love answering this question. We were actually in Halifax a few years ago and they have a fabulous museum there. What I didn’t know was that a lot of people from the Titanic washed up there. It’s gruesome, but they did. They have a lot of the artefacts that they found on the bodies in that museum. I was looking at that and thought, ‘Wow, isn’t that interesting what you can tell from what somebody was carrying in their pockets?’ One of the men had gold coins in his pockets, which is a morality tale because they didn’t do him any good.

I had long before established that Murdoch grew up in Nova Scotia, so this really got me going. It was actually a short story called ‘Wreckwood.’ That is the term they used in Nova Scotia to refer to a piece of the boat that they had found. It was very respectful. It was their way of honouring those ships that had foundered on their shores. I then changed the title to ‘Shipwreck’ and wrote a novella, which was intended for adults. It was a Murdoch story intended for a slightly different audience. I had framed it as Murdoch telling the story to his grandchild and that was really fun to to.

I always enjoy it when people talk about their past, so that’s really how it started.

Was it always the plan to have Peter Outerbridge cast as Father Keegan?
We absolutely wanted Peter in with Yannick. Everybody wanted Peter in, we just had to figure out the scheduling. He was happy to be there too and it was a lovely moment on many levels. Peter, the first Murdoch was there with the current Murdoch and they worked together. It was really nicely done. It was a fabulous experience.

Did you get a chance to watch any scenes filmed?
Yannick wasn’t there the day I was. We were there the day they filmed in Sutton, Ont., filming the shipwreck scenes. We went to a gravel pit to film the shipwreck. It was cold and wet and they were using rain towers to simulate the storm. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced. There was Peter as Father Keegan, getting soaked to the skin and doing brilliantly.

I know scripts go through many edits. Were there any important plot points featured in this episode?
We had to work hard in terms of bringing together the two storylines. That was much more difficult that what I’d thought originally. One of the writers, Carol Hay, came up with the idea of rather than trying to link the two stories in terms of the plot, why don’t we just link them together in terms of theme and have this story of William’s relationship with Father Keegan be paramount. I thought that was very clever and it worked.

I enjoyed seeing young William and seeing his curiosity and Catholic faith established.
I was not raised in any way Catholic, but I went to a Catholic university—which was then called Assumption—and I was so impressed by the fathers there. That has definitely morphed into Father Keegan. And I think that, really, the young Murdoch is the young me.

Murdoch Mysteries returns with new episodes on Monday, March 16, at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Tonight: Murdoch Mysteries, Ascension, 19-2

Murdoch Mysteries, CBC – “Shipwreck”
Murdoch revisits his past when a murder investigation at a church reunites him with the priest (Peter Outerbridge) who mentored him as a young altar boy.

Ascension, CBC – Episode 3
Gault investigates an explosion on Ascension and Enzmann deals with a consultant Director Warren has hired to investigate Stokes’ death and keep an eye on him.

19-2, Bravo – “Tables”
The hunt for the mole takes a dramatic shift when Nick is pulled off patrol.

Comments and queries for the week of Feb. 20

By far the biggest focus of conversation was Monday’s most recent episode of Murdoch Mysteries, which saw the relationship between Lillian and Emily move to a whole new level.

Other topics of conversation this week included the early lead Murdoch has taken in our poll of Favourite Canadian TV Show on Netflix—vote now for your chance to win a one-year subscription to Netflix—and cutting the cable cord.

I love Murdoch Mysteries. The characters are wonderful, the sets are outstanding and I look forward to each episode. The most recent one in which Dr. Grace followed her heart where it led her was amazing. Gay, straight, whatever its about love and a person developing into who they are. Kudos to everyone involved.—Carol

Personally, I’m more offended by people dropping a show they claim to love because they introduce an LGBT storyline, especially when they claim it goes against “family values.” Any family that doesn’t value compassion, understanding and acceptance of others is a family I don’t want to know. That being said, I was a bit worried that this storyline might be pandering just a little bit—you know what I mean; a young, attractive supporting character having a lesbian fling with an equally attractive woman, which just happens to air during sweeps—until I read this article. I have faith in the show’s writers, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing how a lesbian relationship in turn-of-the-20th-century ultra-conservative Toronto plays out. (And if it does turn out to be pandering … well, I’ll probably still watch. Can’t guarantee it won’t bug me if that turns out to be the case, though.)—The Crazed Spruce

I have watched this show faithfully since it began and will continue to do so, although I was disappointed in Emily’s newfound love relationship. Not because of the gay/lesbian aspect of it, but I was hoping she would rekindle her attraction to George. A storyline around them would have been interesting and comical, because they play off each other so well. It seems like all the TV shows are incorporating a gay/lesbian person; how about more handicapped people being integrated into the TV shows too!!—Linda

Because that’s what makes them good shows! They create situations that make us talk and debate, they develop characters so well that we care about what happens to them and makes their stories stay with us long after the show is over. How dull would it be if they recycled the same plot points every episode or have their characters never develop or grow? I appreciate how Murdoch Mysteries challenges me on EVERY level, not just an intellectual but on a personal and even spiritual level. I can see this storyline doing just that with our favourite characters. No matter how it turns out, it’s going to make for some pretty great television.—Amy

I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I don’t watch a single program you have in your show categories. I seem drawn to shows like Justified, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Last Week Tonight, Silicon Valley, Breaking Bad, Veep, Peaky Blinders and Penny Dreadful. Why can’t Canadian TV networks make shows like these? I know there are plenty of big-time Canadian actors and most head south. And it seems like we are left with the same group of actors that find themselves playing the same part on another similar show. I haven’t seen The Book of Negroes and I will say this does look like a quality show. Hopefully, there is a generation of new writers and actors just waiting to burst onto the scene. I really do hope so.—Lee

I too cut the cable about four years back and it was a exactly what Diane said: cost vs. benefit. I had a huge cable subscription with all the bells and whistles and surmised I only watched five channels. So spend almost a hundred bucks a month for five channels? It made and makes no sense. I miss a few shows that I am willing to pay specifically for but my wife and I are both happy without extra bill and save a good hunk of change. To me this was a quality issue. I would rather pay for the shows I watch and those shows are more readily available and more convenient streaming.—Marvin

My husband and I compromised: he’s allowed to have cable and I’m allowed to have wine. I never watch TV. Netflix is good enough for me.—Jennie

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? greg@tv-eh.com or head to @tv_eh.

Interview: Dr. Grace finds love on Murdoch Mysteries

“Toronto’s Girl Problem” was notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it introduced viewers to another member of Inspector Brackenreid’s family. His nephew, Charlie (Charlie Clements, EastEnders), had come to the constabulary as a fresh start after witnessing the death of his partner back in London. It gave a fascinating tease into what sort of bloke Brackenreid is.

But Monday’s latest Murdoch Mysteries episode also brought Dr. Emily Grace’s sexuality out into the open. After allowing Lillian to undo her corset in “The Devil Wears Whalebone,” Emily went one step further at the end of last night’s episode, planting a romantic kiss on Lillian’s lips.

We got the episode’s writer, Michelle Ricci, to sound off on Emily’s sexuality and what it means for the future of Murdoch.

From what I understand, there were some notes from CBC regarding the scene between Lillian and Emily?
Michelle Ricci: I don’t know if it was CBC as much as it was everybody was a little bit nervous. There were discussions that I wasn’t a party to and Pete would come back and say, ‘These are some of the things that I’m hearing, but we’re going to stick to our guns and we’re going to do it.’ He did shoot the ending three ways. He shot it just with Emily walking in, he shot it with just the approach to the kiss, and he shot it with the full-on kiss. I’m glad that he used the full-on and that, ultimately, the network and Shaftesbury decided to trust us. We use kisses and physical contact so rarely on our show that when we do it, it really means something. That’s a part of the time—public displays of affection were not the norm—and it also goes to character. Our characters don’t run around making out all the time. It would feel weird in our world, so when we do do it it really means something.

I just think that, building all season to this moment and the corset being the pivotal moment—had we not gone for it and shown it on-screen—it would have felt like a bit of a cheat. I think it’s really important for Emily to go for it as well.

Do you think Emily realized what she was going to do in this episode, or was it at some other point in this season?
I think she was starting to figure it out in ‘Whalebone’ a little bit. When that corset comes off, you can see there is a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Georgina does such a good job in that scene, you really get the range of emotions that she’s going through in that scene. And it ends on an excited note rather than a nervous one. So coming into this episode, Lillian makes a couple of comments and Emily thinks, ‘OK, maybe this is something.’ But she’s still very hesitant until Brackenreid confronts her to grow up. She’s like, ‘Hold up, I am grown up and I’m going to do whatever I want.’ I think at that moment she decides to follow her heart. And her heart is with Lillian now.

I think it’s important to note that she isn’t falling for a woman. She’s falling for a person. She’s not turning gay on a dime. She isn’t all of a sudden discovering she’s a lesbian. This woman has opened her eyes to a whole world of possibilities. That’s an important distinction to not cheapen the relationships that she had in the past. She absolutely loved Crabtree. She was absolutely hoodwinked by Leslie Garland. This is a different person at a different stage in her life and a different journey for her.

It’s important that you say that. Is this an experiment on Emily’s part? How will this affect her relationship with George?
She really is falling for Lillian and wants to explore a future with her. Whatever form that future takes, she doesn’t know yet. It’s going to be difficult. And even though we have approached sexuality on the show before, we have never approached it from one of our main characters. It’s important that we do this. It’s a timely subject now, then, and forever.

We got a very touching note after the ‘Whalebone’ episode. A 14-year-old girl who, because of that episode, came out to her father. We were absolutely blown away and touched by that. You don’t realize, working in TV, how much power and influence you actually have on people, good and bad.

How do you feel about so much of a fuss being made about this storyline?
It seems like there are a lot of shows that are doing a lesbian storyline. We’re certainly one of the few that are treating it as an issue. We have to do that because of the historical context, but we’ve gotten some comments from people saying that because other shows have a lesbian storyline Murdoch has to do one. I actually think it’s great that we’re going gay, lesbian or transgender storylines in any capacity and not making it a big deal. That means that these people exist and live in our world and the way they live their lives is a valid one and it should be reflected on television. All aspects of life should be on television.

I am a bit sad when people tweet that if this is where we’re going with this character they’ll never watch again, but at the same time that’s kind of their loss. We make a good show and a lot of people work really hard to make a show that’s different, has something to say and tries to portray just how much we haven’t changed as much as how much we have changed.

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