Constable George Crabtree: murderer? Surely that can’t be true, but by the end of Monday’s season finale George was locked up and charged with the death of Archie Brooks just the same. There’s more to this crime than meets the eye, but George’s bloody boots and his refusal to speak has placed him firmly behind bars and put his detective’s job in question.
That wasn’t the only cliffhanger in Monday’s “The Artful Detective”: Lillian asked Emily to move to London with her so that the two could continue their support of the Suffragette Movement in England. Emily had not made a decision by the time the show’s credits rolled. It’s been a dramatic season of Murdoch Mysteries, with such high points as William and Julia getting married to the rise of the Suffragettes in Toronto, and lows like the fall of Chief Constable Giles and Constable John Hodge.
In our last behind-the-scenes chat with the creative folks at Murdoch Mysteries, we spoke to showrunner Peter Mitchell.
Was the episode title, “The Artful Detective,” a little nod to Ovation, the U.S. cable channel that airs Murdoch under that name?
Peter Mitchell: It was a wink to that, yeah, as well as a great horse name.
I counted seven bodies in last night’s episode and all of them were pretty gruesome. How did the idea for that come about?
We usually try to do one sequential killer storyline a year and we got into the whole thing of The Most Dangerous Game. The most dangerous game is man and we wanted to get Ogden a little more involved in psychological profiling. Our last several episodes—one was pro wrestling and the one before that was girl gangs—we’d done a few lighter ones and we wanted to go out with a darker, sequential killer storyline that ultimately isn’t that. It fit the mood of winter, which we were fortunate enough to get.
What was it like filming in those conditions? It was cold enough to see breath.
It was pretty cold. It wasn’t minus-40 Toronto but it was cold. When you’re out there in temperatures hovering around zero and nobody is really prepped for it, it’s not fantastic.
You mentioned the wrestling episode. I understand you’re a fan of pro wrestling. How long have you enjoyed it?
Oh gosh, longer than my wife would care to admit. Probably around WrestleMania II or III. I kicked around doing something with those guys a few years ago and it never happened. The identical twin referees is still a stroke of storytelling genius. We just tried to throw a few things into it. Murdoch driving the ambulance was, of course, Steve Austin driving the ambulance when they took Vince McMahon away. We hit four or five really deep in-jokes. My daughter and I started going to local wrestling in Toronto which is where we found a bunch of those guys.
We’re probably going to work, a little more this year, at putting the team back together and see them work more as a coordinated unit.
OK, when we last saw George in the finale, he was behind bars and charged with murdering Archie. But I feel like there is more to this than meets the eye.
It’s Murdoch, of course there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Probably more than even George is aware of. It goes deeper than what George thinks is going on.
I think George is innocent and is covering for Edna because he thinks she is involved somehow.
He’s kind of where you are … but wrong. [Laughs.]
Where do we pick up next season?
It will pick up about five months later and George will be in completely different circumstances. Our fans are pretty diligent about changing seasons, we can never pick up right where we left off. We end a season with snow on the ground and we’ll pick up, hopefully, with leaves on the trees.
What year will it be in Murdoch’s world when we come back for Season 9?
For history it will be 1903, which is the year before the ‘Great Fire of Toronto.’
Is that something you’re working towards?
We’re aware of it, but we’re not sure exactly where we’re going to place it. You’re as aware of the numbers and the good feelings for this show as we are and we don’t see a firm end date. As long as people are ambulatory we have a decent chance of making this for awhile. I’m not sure where we will place the Great Fire and the producer on the show with me, Steve Montgomery, would probably kill me the minute I suggest Great Fire. We will get to it.
Are there some key events in Toronto’s history that occurred in 1903 that you’re planning on covering?
We’re working towards that. We’ve got our list of historical characters that we’d like to get on the show this year. In terms of actual events, we’re always researching but nothing jumps out right now as being significant to hang an episode on. I think Prime Minister Laurier will come back to town this year, I’m hoping—if we can find the right guy—Mark Twain will come to town. We might have a little bit of fun with Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Michelle Ricci told me you guys have been trying to get that character on the show for years.
Yeah, I think Crabtree will teach her how to write. [Laughs.]
What can fans expect from next season?
That’s a really loaded question. What the fans expect is not always what we deliver. I think that we did try some avenues of experimentation this year in expanding the franchise. We may have lost sight, once or twice, in our core characters. The last three episodes were basically George, George, George in terms of an emotional storyline and prior to that we had been doing stuff with Emily. We’re probably going to work, a little more this year, at putting the team back together and see them work more as a coordinated unit. But it’s Murdoch Mysteries, so hopefully we’ll still have controversial storylines and zany storylines and a little more focus on Julia and William’s relationship in the coming year.
Season 9 of Murdoch Mysteries will return to CBC later this year.