Everything about Murdoch Mysteries, eh?

Photo gallery: First look at “Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas”

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, as Murdoch Mysteries‘ two-hour holiday special, “Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas” approaches. Written by Paul Aitken, Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci and directed by T.W. Peacocke, CBC says the following:

It’s four days ‘til Christmas, and with no snow on the streets of Toronto, spirits are low until two bombastic businessmen barge into Station House No. 4 with a far-fetched story about a train robbery – a bandit is trying to steal Christmas! Murdoch is baffled but soon, more impossible robberies have him giving chase around the city. Crabtree is convinced the bandit is based on his latest fictional hero but Brackenreid dismisses this outlandish theory. Meanwhile, Constable Jackson forms a Station House No. 4 choir, but with only a few days to whip the singing constables into shape he begs Rebecca James for help. And Ogden finds herself mysteriously spirited away after a family of children who need her help mistake her for a storybook heroine. Stories collide on Christmas Eve – and once again, Murdoch must find a way to pull off a Christmas miracle.

CBC has given us an early Christmas present by revealing the following seven images to get you in the holiday mood! Let me know what you think of the storyline, and images, by commenting below!

 

Murdoch Mysteries‘ “Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas” airs Monday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m. on CBC, with an encore broadcast on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, at 5 p.m.

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Murdoch Mysteries’ Jordan Christianson chats “Weekend at Murdoch’s”

Jordan Christianson created perhaps the funniest episode of Murdoch Mysteries ever on Monday night. “Weekend at Murdoch’s” was chock-full of double entendre, jokes and sight gags in its homage to Weekend at Bernie’s and provided a comedy clinic thanks to Cyrus Lane, who returned to the show as Roger Newsome.

And while the scenes involving Crabtree, Higgins and Newsome were uproariously funny—his body was carried around Toronto to appear he was still alive and could testify against Rex Gray—it was sad to say goodbye to a character the Murdoch writer’s room has loved to breathe life into.

We spoke to Christianson about “Weekend at Murdoch’s,” and that fact Cyrus Lane may not be finished with Murdoch Mysteries after all.

I think this is the funniest episode of Murdoch Mysteries that has ever been done. Congratulations on a great script.
Jordan Christianson: Thanks. It’s certainly the most overtly comic of the season, if not the history of the show. It’s perhaps testing the boundaries of what you can get away with in an hour-long murder mystery procedural, but I’m quite pleased with it and we had a lot of fun making it.

Why is Roger Newsome a favourite in the writers’ room?
At the end of Season 7, we had a murder that took place in a pompous, rich-boy club kind of setting and we figured we needed a few rich boys. At the outset, it wasn’t expressly written that Roger would be a twit, but when Cyrus Lane was cast we realized there was great comic potential for the character. At the beginning of every year, we would try to come up with a reason to bring him back.

Talk about that process. You write a character and then they are cast. It’s at that point you realize, ‘Holy crap, we need to have more Roger and Cyrus in the future.’
He’s simultaneously one of those guys who very much feels of the period. Older actors seem to feel the period than younger actors. Sometimes when we have a younger actor on the show, they can’t help but feel a little contemporary to me. Cyrus was one of those guys who has a very timeless, period kind of look in the way that he carries himself. He’s got the Stratford Festival background and has the theatre training that lends itself well to the Victorian era. Newsome articulates well and enunciates and has good posture and seems well-bred and wealthy. Cyrus is a very keen actor and picks up whatever intended bits of humour there are in the script and adds a ton of his own, particularly when he’s working with Jonny, Lachlan and Yannick. Those guys improvised quite a bit and were coming up with physical, slapsticky gags between takes.

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I did wonder about improvisation, especially when Newsome was being carted around on the street and Cyrus did over-the-top waves to folks in the crowd.
The idea to do that was scripted, but it’s easy enough to write it in the script and it was up to the actors to coordinate how to do it. Yannick would be pushing the chair working the knobs to supposedly cause the body to move, but they needed to time that perfectly. They had to coordinate a lot of that. There was a fair amount of ad-libbing of dialogue as well and moments, like when Crabtree is manning the wheelchair outside of the ornithology event and Newsome punches Crabtree. That was something Jonny and Cyrus worked out on their own. Jonny actually improvised one of my favourite lines in the script. At one point he’s speaking to Louise Cherry and Louise says, ‘For the sake of my story, I’d love to interview Mr. Newsome. It would really spruce things up.’ And Jonny says, ‘Well, he can’t speak because, even though he was wearing the bullet-proof vest, he broke a rib.’ That was scripted, but Jonny then said something along the line of, ‘In fact, it’s almost as if he’s not breathing at all.’

As I remember it, when we conceived the story initially we were just going to cast the role of the witness that gets assassinated and ends up in the wheelchair for the whole show. And then somebody else in the room—I think it was Simon [McNabb]—had the idea of it being Roger Newsome. At once it was, ‘It would be a shame to lose him,’ but also knowing how good of a physical comic Cyrus is, we began to realize they’d have to do a lot of work in that chair in order to sell the comic premise and we already knew Cyrus could do it. And having it be a character that we met a few times before and has a preexisting relationship with our guys—particularly Crabtree—we thought would also bring an added layer to the story we wouldn’t have had if we just cast John Smith.

As great as Newsome was in this episode, you did kill him off. What are your thoughts, seeing as he’s been a room favourite?
[Showrunner] Pete’s motto is always to not assume there will be another season so if we have a good idea we should go ahead and do it. The consolation is that we created the character of Roger Newsome’s sister, Ruth, and perhaps she can carry on the torch of the Newsome family. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as we got to know Ruth more, there might be a cousin or something that has a striking resemblance to Roger.

Regarding the murder case itself, it was interesting to have our team take on the case of Rex Gray after Station No. 3 couldn’t close it.
It also covered off the necessity to explain why Murdoch wasn’t able to solve the initial case. We didn’t want to dwell on the details of the original case. We just wanted to get to the murder right away and not have to fill in any more backstory than was necessary.

OK, why is Henry Higgins still on the force?!
He should have been fired after this one and if there is a flaw in this episode—and I’m sure there are many—is that I never quite found a way to do was find that redeeming moment for Higgins at the end of the episode. It was packed with so much stuff that I just couldn’t find that moment.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Robert Carli

From You’ve Been Hooked:

Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Robert Carli
“The music is generally tailored for each episode. I do use recurring themes for various characters, and I will often re-visit melodies or pieces. And there are many times when we do edit from our rather larger Murdoch library. But my goal with each episode is to try to come up with some motif or sound or idea that is specific to that particular script. Sometimes I’m unsuccessful, but mostly I come up with something.” Continue reading. 

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Mary Pedersen dishes on Murdoch Mysteries’ “Painted Ladies”

The television industry is full of instances where someone scored a dream gig during their last interview. That’s certainly the case for Mary Pedersen. She’d left her family behind in Nova Scotia to pursue a writing job in Ontario, but was frustrated by meetings that went nowhere.

She gave her agent an ultimatum: one last meeting and she was going back home. That final interview? It was for Murdoch Mysteries. Suffice it to say, things worked out for Pedersen, who took time to talk about her latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, and to tease next week’s instalment.

Can you give me some backstory into how the main thrust of the murder came about? I’ll never be able to look at swan boats the same way again.
Mary Pedersen: I think it was even before we started work in the room before Season 10 that [showrunner] Peter Mitchell had sent around a story about Victorian flirtation cards and we were riffing on what kind of trouble the constables would get into with these cards. It stuck with us and made it onto the board and I was really glad to get the assignment because I thought it was fun and I tend to gravitate to romantic stories.

Aside from the murder of Mr. Fellowes, there was a lot of big stuff going on with Nina and Crabtree. It was very saucy to have them in bed together at 8 p.m. on CBC and a shirtless Jonny Harris!
[Laughs.] That’s what happens when you have women writers, I guess. We’re always doing a balance between old-timey and present-day and I think it’s always interesting to look at the past through the lens of today. When I look at a story like this I think, ‘Well, what’s the reality of it?’ People were having sex. There is this Victorian sensibility that people weren’t having sex and if they were it was only if they were married, and even then it was only in the missionary position. I don’t think that’s true and that’s kind of where I was coming from when I did that.

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You’re not only showing the advancement of thinking in Toronto in 1904 but also the growth of this relationship. I think this is the most passionate relationship Crabtree has been in.
It’s interesting. I think when Nina’s character was conceived the idea was that she is a different kind of person and has thought a lot about sexuality and is up front about it. That’s an interesting contrast with the rest of our characters. The chemistry between Nina and Crabtree is great and it feels natural that their relationship is progressing. Erin Agostino has great charisma and I liked seeing that part of their relationship on screen because it’s fun to see Jonny do something a little more dramatic.

Is it important for the writers to have Jonny be in relationships on Murdoch, or does it not matter if he’s single?
Speaking for myself, I always want to see him in a relationship. I think he does great work in those situations. With Ogden and Murdoch now married and at a different stage in their relationship, Jonny is one of those places where we can see the earlier stages of love and have that tension of will they or won’t they?

And then there is Higgins, who is more awkward than Jackson when it comes to interacting with ladies.
[Laughs.] I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I loved that flip where Higgins is always so cocky and not self-aware and that turn where he says, ‘The problem is, I always do’ … Lachlan hit that out of the part and I think I almost cried the first time. Like, ‘Oh, sweetie.’ [Laughs.] It was really fun to have that insight into him and, for me, changed my perspective on him.

Let’s talk a bit about the scene between Murdoch and Mrs. Fellowes.
It was Linzee Barclay who played the widow, and I had a lot of fun writing her character and then the actress they found was just fantastic. I love the idea that the smartest person in the room is confronted with the person that thinks they are the smartest person in the room.

We’re constantly seeing the tie-ins between back then and now, and the flirtation cards were like Twitter and Facebook.
Yeah, we were thinking of it as the Tinder of the time. I think it was a big trend a little earlier than this and there were editorials about what a dangerous thing flirtation was. The point of the cards was to meet away from your chaperone and break the Victorian rules of proper courting.

Was it true that lip rouge, at the time, was viewed as being wicked?
Yes, it was becoming more common but it would have been controversial and some people wouldn’t have worn it at all.

What about tapeworms and nose jobs?
I saw magazine articles for tapeworms as a way to lose weight and this was right around the time of the very first nose job. The truest line that I wrote about that was, ‘Oh Oscar, that’s impossible the scars would be so great.’ If you look at the picture of the first person to have a nose job, it wasn’t a pretty sight. It’s definitely fudged that she would be able to hide it and go undetected.

That’s 1904 and in 2016 body image is still top of mind.
When you look at articles about cosmetics at the time, or a little earlier, white skin was very popular and wearing powder was very important. The mere fact that they wore corsets says a lot about looking a certain way.

What can you tell me about Episode 8?
It’s going to be one of the funniest episodes, I think, of the season and a good mystery too. It features one of the writers’ room’s most favourite guest characters of all.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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