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Murdoch Mysteries: Showrunner Peter Mitchell looks ahead to Season 11

Spoiler alert! Do not read on until you’ve watched Murdoch Mysteries Episode 18, “Hell to Pay.”

Now that was one heck of a season finale, wasn’t it Murdoch Mysteries fans? It’s a good thing our favourite series has been greenlit for another season because there are a ton of questions to be answered! Will Julia be found? How will William get out of this scrape? Is Det. Watts really there to help William? Did Brackenreid fight off Davis, or is he injured or, gulp, dead? And, perhaps most importantly: did Higgins, Crabtree and Jackson all survive the gunfire?

We spoke to Murdoch Mysteries showrunner Peter Mitchell about that edge-of-your-seat instalment—the show’s landmark 150th—and where the show goes in Season 11.

First of all, congratulations on your writing win at the Canadian Screen Awards, as well as Murdoch Mysteries winning the Golden Screen Award. Is it important to you to win awards, specifically one for writing?
Peter Mitchell: Murdoch has never gotten a nomination for writing, so it was important to give a little shout-out to the writers. It’s nice to win an award, but it’s not why I’m here. I think I’ve been nominated 11 times or something and this is the first time I’ve won. Winning is better than losing. [Laughs.] I won’t deny that. It was nice of the movie to win too as a whole. Obviously, I’m biased but getting the award for most viewership is more important than anything else.

Let’s talk about the cliffhanger season finale, ‘Hell to Pay.’ I seem to remember Murdoch being framed for murder once before?
I believe he was at the end of Season 4 [“Murdoch in Wonderland”]. That was just before my time. I don’t think it was a cliffhanger, he was exonerated by the end of the episode.

At what point did you decide ‘Hell to Pay’ would be a cliffhanger?
I think it was around the time that we thought Trump was going to win [the election]. I just figured everything would go to hell both fictionally and in real life.

It was great to see Robin Dunne back on TV. I haven’t seen him since Sanctuary.
He was great. I had never met him before, actually, and he was a ton of fun. It was also especially fun to work with John Wildman, who was on a TV show called The Campbells a million years ago and I used to drive him to work. That’s the first time we had worked together in, like, 30 years.

You started out in the industry as a driver?
Well, as a production assistant. They didn’t have drivers back then. I was the general gofer guy.

How long were you a P.A.?
One season, and then I moved into the writing department fairly quickly once I got my foot in the door.

Did you take a TV writing course at the time?
I took one television writing course at York University for, like, a semester. My instructor was in the business, at CTV, and he got me a gig.

OK, let’s talk about the episode. Miss Cherry’s personality has certainly evolved. In last week’s episode, she was talking shit about William and Julia. There is no faster way to turn the fans on someone than having them do that.
Yeah, especially Julia. We learned that when one of the characters Emily was involved with called William a stick in the mud. That was basically her death sentence. [Laughs.] But we had portrayed Louise as being controlling over George throughout, but it was when she insults George’s friends that he can do better. I kind of knew what the reaction would be.

Is that it for Louise Cherry?
I wouldn’t say so, no. She performs a function in the finale and is not out of the picture.

With regard to Inspector Brackenreid … we hear a gunshot and last saw Davis aiming a gun at his head. 
We hear a gunshot go off and that’s the last we see of Brackenreid. I guess we’ll see what happens.

It appears we might be losing one of the constables. Murdoch is told that one of them is dead.
I think you have to think about the reliability of the narrator, the person who is telling him that. I don’t think we can end a season like that and have everything be tickety-boo. The show, in essence, has five cliffhangers: three constables, one Julia and a Brackenreid. And we don’t see any of them past the three-quarter mark of the show. And, why is Watts offering to be so helpful at the very end of the episode? Is he a good guy? I don’t know. Why didn’t he help Murdoch earlier? Why is he showing up now?

So, Watts may have ulterior motives?
Maybe. I never trust those Maslanys. They have many faces! [Laughs.] Daniel is fantastic; just a very pleasant young man.

You’ve created this mess with all of these characters. How do you clean it up going forward?
I think it’s a big enough mess that it will take more than one episode to clean it up. I’ve been studiously avoiding the hard work of making it all make sense. I think what I’ll probably do is use a couple of the early episodes to deal with the repercussions of last year and then bounce the show ahead three months in time because I don’t think we’re purpose built to go dark, dark, dark. We’re allowed to go dark on the show but I don’t think we can stay there.

Are there any historical characters you’re planning on bringing on board for Season 11?
I think we’re going to bring back good old Teddy Roosevelt. I think we’re going to bring Dr. William Osler back, one of the founders of modern medicine. I think we’re going to bring in Helen Keller, who will help solve a case. And, with Helen Keller, I think we’re going to get Alexander Graham Bell. That’s just in the early stages right now and I think we’re going to try and pay a tiny bit more attention to getting more historical characters in this year than we did last year. That might entail the return of Laurier and Terrence Meyers, of course, some of the regular characters we like to see every year.

In terms of the historical characters, they all seem to be in the world of medicine for some reason.

What did you think of the season finale? Let me know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of CBC.


“Hell to Pay” in Murdoch Mysteries’ shocking season finale

I’ve been a fan and avid watcher of Murdoch Mysteries since Season 1. I’ve seen beloved characters come and go, tense storylines roll out and gory murders committed. But Monday’s season finale is the most shocking I’ve ever seen of Murdoch Mysteries. It will leave myself, and fellow fans, talking until the fall.

The good news is that Murdoch Mysteries will return for Season 11. The bad news? I’m not sure everyone on the cast will be back. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what CBC has released, synopsis-wise, for Monday’s aptly-titled “Hell to Pay,” written and directed by Peter Mitchell:

When a burlesque dancer asks Murdoch for help, the Station House No. 4 team find themselves embroiled in a conspiracy and unforeseen danger.
And here are a few more tidbits—it was hard to tease anything without it becoming spoilery—after watching a screener of the landmark 150th episode. My postseason interview with Peter Mitchell will be posted on TV-Eh.com after the broadcast!
The Great Fire revisited
Season 10 began with part of Toronto being consumed by the Great Fire of 1904. That storyline comes full circle on Monday and features some cool guest stars in pivotal roles. Among them are Sanctuary‘s Robin Dunne and John Wildman, who Mitchell first met when they were both working on The Campbells. Dunne and Wildman play bigwigs in city hall who have plans for Toronto’s future … at any cost.
A pain in Brackenreid’s butt returns to Station House No. 4
Yes, even on his best day Brackenreid is rubbed the wrong way by the most lovely of people. But a true baddie from Thomas’ past shows up in “Hell to Pay” and things get serious. Some might even say deadly serious.
Chaos for our favourite characters
If you’ve seen the teasers—and if you’re a Murdoch fan you certainly have—you know William is on the run and framed for murder. But he’s not the only one who is on the run and/or evading danger. Almost every single regular or recurring character is drawn into the main plot of the episode … and all their lives are in peril. Mitchell has written a highly-dramatic, action-filled episode that really will have you on the edge of your seat.

A pre-finale Q&A is happening!
Members of the Murdoch Mysteries cast will be on Facebook and Twitter answering your questions ahead of the episode. A heads-up that they WILL NOT be answering questions about the season finale, because that would ruin the fun. Get your queries in before Monday at 10 a.m ET with the hashtag #MurdochQandA.


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

Images courtesy of CBC.


Murdoch Mysteries gets rolling in new episode

As soon as I spotted that image of Rebecca and Julia decked out for a roller derby I knew Monday’s episode was going to be a good one. “Hot Wheels of Thunder” delivered on all counts, not only with a heinous crime and humour, but with nail-biting action too.

Written by Canadian Screen Award winner Peter Mitchell, Simon McNabb and Jordan Christianson and directed by Mitchell, here’s what CBC says about the episode:

Murdoch’s investigation into the death of a roller-skating champion takes him into a world of aggressive and ruthlessly competitive young women.

And here are more spoiler-free facts gleaned from watching a screener:

Medical talk with Julia and Rebecca
The pair begins the episode roller skating along a beachfront path, with Julia quizzing Rebecca about different medical definitions. If you are a guy, two may cause you to cross your legs. I did.

A lady love from Crabtree’s past returns
We won’t say who—that would ruin the fun—but I was certainly glad to see her, even if it was brief. However, her appearance does affect George when it comes to his relationship with Louise Cherry. Also? Brackenreid delivers a speech to George that is laugh-out-loud funny.

Kudos to the set design, wardrobe and construction team
The creative folks who work on the sets, set design and props always make Murdoch look amazing, but they did a particularly fantastic job this week. The roller derby set and wardrobes are astounding. The stunts, choreography and camera work is spot-on too.

Carmilla‘s Natasha Negovanlis guest stars
The fellow Shaftesbury (Murdoch‘s production company) co-worker from Carmilla turns in a villainous performance as Mildred Preston, the leader of The Buffalo Queens roller derby club.

You’ll get this reference on Monday night.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.


Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Jill Carter

From You’ve Been Hooked:

Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Jill Carter
“I can tell you that I am very encouraged by the new shows the networks have been ordering here. I think Canadian TV is starting to take some chances in their storytelling and that is a good thing. We have a lot of great talent in front and behind the camera. I am hopeful for our future moving forward.” Continue reading.


Murdoch Mysteries: “Master Lovecraft” preview and remembering Jordan Christianson

Monday’s newest episode of Murdoch Mysteries is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it brings another real-life historical character into Det. Murdoch’s world as horror writer H.P. Lovecraft (played by Tyler East)—author of favourites like “The Lurking Fear,” “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Call of Cthulhu”—visits Toronto.

Sadly, “Master Lovecraft” also marks the final complete script written by Jordan Christianson, who passed away earlier this year. (Personally, we’ll miss talking to Jordan about his writing process and his sense of humour.) We spoke to Murdoch showrunner Peter Mitchell about Jordan, what he meant to the series and its writers’ room and got a spoiler-free preview into what fans can expect on Monday night.

Here’s CBC’s official episode description: “The discovery of a young girl’s body and some grotesque sketches leads Murdoch to suspect a gang of death-obsessed teenagers, which includes a young H.P. Lovecraft.”
Do you want to say anything about Jordan and what he meant to you and the show?
Peter Mitchell: Jordan was one of my students at the Canadian Film Centre. I gave him a couple of little jobs but didn’t hire him during my first year at Murdoch Mysteries. I brought he and Simon McNabb on shortly after. I got to watch both of them grow and develop over the four or five years since. He was turning into a mighty fine writer. He was kind of the calm centre of the writers’ room and had a delightful naivete to him that was often just a ruse so that he could basically punk us all the time. He would ask naive questions and take us down a road until we realized we’d been completely had. He learned to be a better writer and was also involved in every sports pool known to man. [Laughs.]
How did he do in the pools?
I think he was always a very close second. I think McNabb always had a close edge on him, but they were pretty much neck-in-neck. If I didn’t watch it, 40 per cent of the writers’ room was he and McNabb trading players.
I read the synopsis for this episode. If Jordan wrote perhaps the funniest episode in ‘Weekend at Murdoch’s,’ this sounds like it could be the darkest.
This is probably the most serious episode that Jordan wrote other than the one where we said goodbye to Dr. Grace. It was telling that both of Jordan’s episodes this year were indeed about death.
It was an interesting genesis. It was a story that we came up with very, very quickly. We came up with it probably in the first two weeks of the writing room getting together. I kind of broke the major elements of it very early and it was sitting there as something that just needed to be complete. We knew we were going to do it and just needed to find a Lovecraft. It was a self-contained episode so we knew it could go anywhere in the schedule. Jordan and I were supposed to co-write it, but I got busier and handed the whole thing off to him and he completed the story with the writers’ room and wrote the script. It was probably one of the scripts that I touched the least. He really nailed it.
How long has Lovecraft been a character you wanted to bring into the show?
We’re sort of drawn to writers of the period and they were often larger than life. Whether it’s Mark Twain or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle … Lovecraft was a little bit young. Obviously, he hadn’t become a full-fledged writer, but he lived in the proximity to Toronto and we were able to create a believable enough fiction to have him up in Toronto. And, as we like to do, one of our characters has influence on a major historical character much like Crabtree did with Lucy Maud Montgomery. Crabtree and Lovecraft’s relationship sort of shapes the emotional centre of it.
It’s illuminating that the dialogues between Crabtree and Lovecraft are probably the most Jordan ever talked about death, both the light and dark side. Lovecraft sees death everywhere and George sees life everywhere.
An image from the episode shows Margaret screaming and Arwen Humphreys tweeted she got her inner scream queen on. Were you on-set when she filmed those scenes?
Yeah, with my earplugs. [Laughs.] She’s a top-notch scream queen.
Anything else you can say about Lovecraft or the death-obsessed teens?
We had to create own sort of goth style that would be appropriate to the period. Working with Alex [Reda], our costume designer we tweaked on the idea to reach back in time for their fashion sense. We took a look at clothing like what Edgar Allan Poe was wearing. It’s kind of a combination of Edgar Allan Poe and Adam Ant. [Laughs.] Our composer listened to a little bit of Depeche Mode and we were off to the races.
I think it’s a really interesting episode. It gives Margaret a lot to play with, which is always nice, and there is a strange love affair between Lovecraft and Margaret. The emotional core is George and Lovecraft. I think Jordan was happy with it.
Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.