Tag Archives: Yannick Bisson

Murdoch Mysteries: Mary Pedersen, Peter Mitchell, Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy discuss what’s next for William and Julia

Spoiler alert! Do NOT continue reading until you have watched Episode 17, “Shadows are Falling,” of Murdoch Mysteries. I’m serious.

I know a lot of you are upset. I understand that. So many Murdoch Mysteries fans have wanted William and Julia to be parents of their own baby. Sadly, that’s not going to happen. At least, not in the near future. That was the sad reality during “Shadows are Falling,” when Julia lost the baby to a miscarriage, leaving the couple in tatters. By episode end, emotions were running high and William walked out.

The reality is, Murdoch Mysteries is—as always—about the mysteries. The murders. The crimes. Anything else is just extra stuff we get to enjoy. Murdoch‘s showrunner, Peter Mitchell, and his writing staff know what they’re doing. I trust them and have for years. They know these characters better than we do and also know what’s best for them. So, while I understand some folks being angry with Monday’s storyline, I’m in for the long haul. I love all of these characters, their experiences and their lives. But I’m also in it for the mysteries, especially now that Season 12 has been announced!

With that in mind, here’s my chat with episode writer Mary Pedersen, showrunner Peter Mitchell and actors Hélène Joy and Yannick Bisson.

Yannick, Season 11 of Murdoch Mysteries has been fantastic. Great, funny, storylines, creative mysteries and wonderful new characters. You must be thrilled.
Yannick Bisson: It’s been another great season and for the folks that have stuck with us, and for the new viewers, it’s been a pretty great season for them. We’ve been able to have some really light-fare episodes that the fans have really responded well to. I think our highest-rated episodes this year was one of the more, sort of, light ones with ‘Crabtree a la Carte.’ It’s fun to see how things flow and change and the show keeps building.

That said, Monday’s episode has shocked and upset many fans.
Yannick Bisson: Absolutely. When you’re talking about big strains on relationships and stuff like that, these are universal themes that hit home with people. And I think there is a sense of ownership and investment with a lot of fans. When they are confronted with some of the stuff that’s coming, there are going to be some upset people.

Do you think Julia and William should have a baby?
Hélène Joy: I think they should have one if they want one, yes. I think they should be able to make that choice if they want and be free to change their minds and go another way, like adoption. We discovered from the adoption process earlier that it made them just as happy. I feel like, in the end, they will and should find a child to love.

Mary, I was reading through Facebook and you were referred to as “the writer of doom,” because you wrote “The Accident” and were the credited writer on “Shadows are Falling.” 
Mary Pedersen: I love it! I’ve demanded that everyone in the writer’s room call me that from now on.

These storylines go through so many approvals—from Pete Mitchell to Shaftesbury and CBC—one person cannot be blamed.
Mary Pedersen: A year ago we arced out what we wanted for Murdoch and Ogden this season and that started with something the fans have also been saying, ‘Oh, they’re married now. What’s going on, it’s boring? When are they going to have a baby and get a house?’ The thinking was that if we went back to the time when there was a lot of excitement, tension, curiosity and questions about what was going on in their relationship before that actually got together, how could we bring back some of that tension into their lives? Not the miscarriage itself, but the overall taking them into a new experience was really the goal of the whole thing. We knew it was going to be something that would create some difficulties for them and some questions for them and their relationship in a way, that I hope, is a natural thing that happens in any relationship. You’re always going to come up against challenges and difficulties and, of course, we confidence in Yannick and Hélène’s abilities to really portray that.

Peter, why was it important to take William and Julia on this journey?
Peter Mitchell: I wanted to do a story of consequence for both the characters and the actors. They are so at ease with their characters that people sometimes forget the fact these two can really act. I wanted to give them a story that both the actors and the characters could sink their teeth into. Plus, it’s a story that is true for a lot of couples. And I hope the fans can accept that. Sometimes in a series, the stories of the most emotional consequence are carried out by the guest characters. The guest character gets the wrenching story and the main character is an enabler or solver of problems.

Do you enjoy putting these characters through an emotional roller coaster and getting feedback from the fans?
Mary Pedersen: Yes. We know that it’s a gift. Sometimes we get comments that are not that great, but ultimately at the end of the day, every day, the fact that the fans care this much is a gift. And we don’t take that lightly. It’s really meaningful. I’ve worked on other projects where you don’t hear a thing. It’s completely different at Murdoch. The woman at the store where I get my pet food is excited. My neighbours are excited. It really changes the experience and it’s really wonderful. The passion that the fans have for Murdoch and Ogden and I think the joy that they felt for the pregnancy and the sadness and empathy they have for their loss is the same that they might have for a family member and that’s a great thing. Being able to do that with the viewers is a gift and one of the things you go into writing or acting for.

Hélène, how have you felt about Julia’s journey this season?
Hélène Joy: I think it’s great. First and foremost, this is a show about mysteries and we like to make sure that’s true. But it’s undeniable that the audience is in love with this couple and their journey. We’ve had all different incarnations of that but it’s been really nice. Obviously, the journey of wanting to have children is so personal and I think a lot of women have responded to her real desire to do this and the joy of it. What happened tonight is devastating but it’s so, so, common. It’s an incredibly common experience, trying to have children. It doesn’t mean they can’t have one again, but it happens a lot. It’s been really brave of the writers to go there and for me, it’s been fun to have such highs and lows to play.

Everything came up in the argument between William and Julia. God, guilt, punishment, faith and then the hot-button topic of abortion. You didn’t leave anything out.
Mary Pedersen: At the beginning of the episode when William is there at her bedside … if they were able to go home then and just be alone together none of this would have happened. But, because they are interrupted and spent time apart, they start to spiral into their own bad places. Because they weren’t able to process their grief together, they were in different places and it brought up all of those things. In any marriage, there are some big issues that are unresolved and you put it in the closet and hope it won’t come up. But it always, always, always will come up. This felt like a natural place to go with them.

The scenes between William and Julia are so raw and emotional. Was it difficult to get into that mindset for filming?
Yannick Bisson: Yeah, the subject matter is dark and difficult and in any given scene you have to sustain an emotional place for hours and hours—sometimes an entire day in order to get all of the coverage—and it sucks to go to work on those days, especially when you’re talking about some tough stuff like loss and betrayal.

Hélène Joy: Yannick and I were like, ‘Is it over yet?’ You have to, as an actor, dredge it from somewhere. It has to come up. It can be kind of exhausting. The scene where I’m lying in the hospital bed and I wake up. There are no words, just a lot of grief. That was at the end of the day and I knew it was coming. So the process begins, unconsciously, at the beginning of the day that you begin to think of the things that make you feel that bad. What happens with me throughout the day is that I get sadder and sadder. It was hard. Yannick and I both hated it.

A lot of folks, including myself, don’t trust Violet Hart. What kind of impact has Violet had in the writer’s room this season?
Mary Pedersen: It’s been great. We miss Mouna but it’s been nice to go in a different direction and try something new with the Violet that we weren’t doing with Rebecca. It’s an opportunity that’s going to pay off for a while.

What can you tell those upset folks that will help them cope until next week’s episode?
Yannick Bisson: Hang in there. There are ups and downs in life and we’re trying to mirror that with the show. The biggest thing to keep in mind as that you have two very strong characters and they have certain points of view. That’s what we’ve come to enjoy from the writing, so we have to stick it out and see them come out the other side.

Mary Pedersen: This is a quote that I like that I keep coming back to, somehow, for this: ‘Everything will be OK in the end.’ Not meaning Episode 18, but Murdoch and Ogden overall.

Will fans be happy by the end of the Season 11 finale?
Yannick Bisson: There is some resolution but I think we’re going to leave some room for people to tune back in for Season 12.

Murdoch Mysteries‘ Season 11 finale airs next Monday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

What did you think of the episode? Can William and Julia turn it around for the season finale? Are you happy Murdoch Mysteries will be back for Season 12? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Preview: “Shadows are Falling” on Murdoch Mysteries

The Murdoch Mysteries fans have spoken! Last week’s episode, “Game of Kings,” was a resounding favourite and I totally agree. Maureen Jennings’ script was jam-packed with history, humour and action; everything that makes for a great instalment.

That, of course, leads us to Monday’s new episode, “Shadows are Falling,” written by Mary Pedersen and directed by Sherren Lee. You may remember the last time Pedersen penned a Murdoch Mysteries storyline, “The Accident,” where she reduced us to tears. Will she do the same this time around? Here’s the official synopsis for “Shadows are Falling” from the CBC:

Murdoch and Ogden must put aside dealing with a personal matter when Nate Desmond is charged with murder.

And here are more morsels to chew on while you wait until Monday.

Congratulations Jonny Harris!
Jonny Harris and his writing crew captured their second Canadian Screen Award in a row for their work on Still Standing. The series took home the trophy for Best Writing, Factual.

Julia and William at their darkest
This is, after all, the penultimate episode of Season 11. You didn’t expect everything to be hunky dory, did you? Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy put in performances of the season on Monday night. Keep your tissues close by.

Nate and Rebecca return
With Nate accused of murder, it only makes sense to have Rebecca James return to Toronto as well. The man collaring Nate is none other than the newly-promoted Horace McWorthy, played by Sean Bell, of Station House No. 1. That means Watts does some digging in his old stomping grounds. Meanwhile, parts of the investigation are particularly painful for William and Julia. The last several minutes of “Shadows are Falling” is shocking, sad and changes everything.

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

Images courtesy of Stephen Scott for CBC.

 

 

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Hits and misses: The 2018 Canadian Screen Awards nominees

First of all, a hearty congratulations to everyone who has been nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award. I’ve spoken to many of you over the years and basked in both your kindness and awesome skills whether you work in front of or behind the camera.

I believe the Canadian Screen Awards are as important and justified in their existence as the Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmys and BAFTA awards; and with that comes the scrutiny that befalls the Academy and the nominations it puts forth every year. What does that mean? I poke, prod and peruse the television categories and scrutinize every decision the Academy has made with regard to the 2018 television nominations.

Here are my thoughts on several of the key categories. Let me know your own thoughts in the comments section below!

Best Drama Series

  • 19-2
  • Anne
  • Mary Kills People
  • Pure
  • Vikings

I’m thrilled to see 19-2, Anne, Mary Kills People and Pure all in this category. Each represents unique storytelling, characters that are interesting and push the boundaries of what we view as heroes and villains. I’m especially tickled that Pure is here because I think what creator Michael Amo, director Ken Girotti and stars Ryan Robbins, Alex Paxton-Beesley, A.J. Buckley and Peter Outerbridge did was really special. That said, I’d rather have seen Vikings replaced by X Company or Travelers. Both of those programs—X Company in its last and Travelers in its first—provided more engaging stories than Vikings did and in more creative ways. Honourable mention: Hard Rock Medical, which manages to jam twisting, dramatic storylines into a mere 22 minutes of airtime.


Best Comedy Series

  • Letterkenny
  • Workin’ Moms
  • Nirvanna the Band the Show
  • Michael: Every Day
  • Kim’s Convenience

Letterkenny continues its journey to being one of the greatest Canadian comedies of all time while breaking new ground being a Crave TV original. Workin’ Moms was simply fantastic in its debut season, Kim’s Convenience is stellar and Michael: Every Day was a comic gem that I’m glad CBC revisited. I simply don’t get Nirvanna the Band the Show. I’ve tried to watch it several times and couldn’t stick with it. Maybe it’s because I’m in my forties and it’s not for my demographic. To me, Mohawk Girls deserved to be in that final spot. Co-created by Tracey Deer (who received a well-deserved nomination for her directing) and Cynthia Knight, Mohawk Girls effectively delivered laughs and tears while telling the tale of four women negotiating life, love and what it means to be a member of the First Nations today.


Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series

  • The Beaverton
  • Baroness Von Sketch Show
  • Rick Mercer Report
  • This Hour Has 22 Minutes

I have no issues with this category. Let’s move on.


Best Reality Competition Series

  • The Amazing Race Canada
  • The Bachelorette Canada
  • Big Brother Canada
  • MasterChef Canada
  • Top Chef Canada

If this category has proved anything, it’s that we’re able to successfully create homegrown versions of proven international reality competition series and nab large audiences for them. Now it’s time to create our own concepts like CBC’s Crash Gallery and CTV’s The Launch; I expect to see the latter nominated in this category next year.


Best Limited Series or Program

  • Cardinal
  • Alias Grace
  • The Disappearance
  • The Kennedys: After Camelot
  • Bruno & Boots: This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall

Holy crap is this a stacked category. All are worthy of being here both for the writing, acting, directing and production values. My murder and mayhem-loving heart is filled with love for Cardinal, The Disappearance and Alias Grace. The pleasant surprise for me is Bruno & Boots which deserves to be here. The tone may different from the other four but that’s what makes it so exciting to see that project here. I’d love it if Bruno & Boots won.


Best Lead Actress, Comedy

  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine Reitman, Workin’ Moms
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
  • Andrea Bang, Kim’s Convenience
  • Jean Yoon, Kim’s Convenience

Another category jammed with bona fide, worthy winners. All are strong women in real life and on the small screen. Andrea Bang and Jean Yoon have created something truly special via Janet and Umma’s relationship, especially in the second season. I wish a sixth name could be added to this list and that it was Dani Kind’s. Her portrayal of Anne Carlson on Workin’ Moms has been a revelation. I’m still marvelling at how a character like Anne can struggle with connecting with her two children, worry the nanny is stealing her family away and decide to have an abortion … and make the situation alternately heartbreaking and hilarious.


Best Lead Actor, Comedy

  • Gerry Dee, Mr. D
  • Jared Keeso, Letterkenny
  • Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim’s Convenience
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek

I agree with all the names on this list and don’t envy the Academy for having to choose a winner.


Best Lead Actress, Drama Series

  • Amybeth McNulty, Anne
  • Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People
  • Jennie Raymond, Sex & Violence
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Meaghan Rath, Rogue

I have not, I must confess, watched Sex & Violence or Rogue, so I’m kind of out of my element here. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion. McNulty’s portrayal of Anne Shirley re-created the character for a whole new generation of Anne of Green Gables fans. She certainly won me over. Caroline Dhavernas was great in Season 1 of Mary Kills People (I think she’s even better in the two episodes I’ve seen of Season 2) and Tatiana Maslany is, well, frigging Tatiana Maslany. If I could suggest a couple of other names for this category they would be Melissa O’Neil for Dark Matter and Hannah John-Kamen for Killjoys. Both were kicking ass and taking names in their sci-fi series while showing sensitivity and humour throughout. And yes, I’m still pissed Dark Matter was cancelled. Thanks for asking.


Best Lead Actor, Drama Series

  • Brian Markinson, The Romeo Section
  • Richard Short, Mary Kills People
  • Christopher Heyerdahl, Van Helsing
  • Alexander Ludwig, Vikings
  • Shawn Doyle, Bellevue

Brian Markinson was so, so good in Season 2 of The Romeo Section; I’m thrilled he got a nod here. Rather than swap a name out, I’d like to add one: Shaun Johnston. His Grandpa Jack on Heartland has been through a lot over the past several years but he’s always been the rock everyone could lean on. In this past season of Heartland, Jack was called upon to help run the ranch while being there for Georgie and Amy, especially when Ty was away in Mongolia. Those storylines called on Johnston to do some major heavy lifting and he shouldered it with no problems at all. Honourable mention to X Company‘s Jack Laskey who was so fantastic as Alfred Graves in the historical drama’s final season.


Best Lead Actress, Drama Program or Limited Series

  • Sarah Gadon, Alias Grace
  • Maxim Roy, Bad Blood
  • Karine Vanasse, Cardinal
  • Camille Sullivan, The Disappearance
  • Hélène Joy, Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays

Honestly, how can you pick a winner out of this group of wide-ranging and fantastic characters?! That said, the Murdoch Mysteries fan in me is pissed Hélène Joy is nominated in this category rather than Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Shaftesbury, the show’s production company, put the Christmas special up for consideration in this category AND the show up for Best Drama Series, so I guess the Academy decided she was a better fit here?


Best Lead Actor, Drama Program or Limited Series

  • Kim Coates, Bad Blood
  • Edward Holcroft, Alias Grace
  • Billy Campbell, Cardinal
  • Alan Thicke, It’s Not My Fault and I Don’t Care Anyway
  • Yannick Bisson, Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays

Again, a stunning group of actors in this category and my same complaint for the previous category goes here: what the hell is Yannick Bisson doing here and not in the major Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series?!

The Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast gala airs live Sunday, March 11 at 8 p.m. on CBC.

 

 

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Murdoch Mysteries: Simon McNabb discusses Home for the Holidays

Monday’s annual Christmas TV-movie Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays was unique on a couple of fronts. First, it didn’t feature the entire cast of characters all in one place toasting Christmas and smooching under the mistletoe. Second, it delved into an unlikely main storyline for a holiday episode: the plight of First Nations people. The tale followed William and Julia to Victoria to visit Murdoch’s brother, RCMP officer Jasper Linney (Dylan Neal), and the trio was drawn into a murder connected to an archaeologist (Megan Follows) who has uncovered an ancient Indigenous settlement.

With Home for the Holidays safely nestled into its bed, we spoke to Simon McNabb—who co-wrote the episode with showrunner Peter Mitchell—about all that and more.

Simon, this year’s special was different in tone. Sure, we had snow, holly and the traditional stuff with Higgins and Crabtree back in Toronto, but in Vancouver, with William and Julia, there was the green and the serious Indigenous Peoples storyline. What’s the background on how the A-story came about?
Simon McNabb: I think it came out of a desire to do something a little different. We felt like we’d done two Christmas movies set in the city and had explored so many of the Christmas movie tropes. When we did the first one, we never thought we’d do another one so we used as many possible Christmas movie references, ideas, themes and tropes as we possibly could. And then we had to do another one, so we came up with even more. This time we felt that if we did the same thing over again we would be wearing a little thin. We wanted to do something that was unusual, or at least unusual for us. And, at the same time, there was a desire to travel the show somewhere because we hadn’t filmed outside of Toronto or Southern Ontario since we went to Newfoundland.

And, at the same time, there was a desire to travel the show somewhere because we hadn’t filmed outside of Toronto or Southern Ontario since we went to Newfoundland. There were a couple of options on the table and one of them was British Columbia. Pete Mitchell was immediately attracted to that idea as someone who grew up on Vancouver Island. I’m also from British Columbia so I was excited as well. From there it became a matter of, Well, that means we’re going to do a bit of an evergreen Christmas. It’s going to be different, but we’ll still be able to draw on the fun family aspects of visiting relatives for the holidays. Aside from that, it’s going to be different and depart from the usual Santa Claus and gift-giving kind of theme.

I’m interested in what the fans have to say. I’m sure everyone would be happy with those tropes ever year but creatively it would get stagnant for the writing room.
Yeah, that’s what we felt. And once we decided to go to B.C. and do a storyline that wasn’t snow-covered we quickly realized that there were different stories to tell out there. If we were going to tell a story that had to do with the First Nations community on Vancouver Island it would sort of be impossible or inappropriate or just not right to attempt to tell a story about a Christian holiday and really embrace that. We wanted to tell a story that was a little bit more open and different.

I thought you told the First Nations story respectfully and that was clearly important to you because you brought on Haida/Cree artist Kristi Lane Sinclair served as consulting producer.
Kristi was involved and helped us not only in the story department with notes, research and insight into the history of the Haida and other nations on Vancouver Island but she was also a huge source for props and set decoration in terms of not only research but connections with First Nations artists, craftspeople and crew members on the west coast.

Was she a consultant on the language spoken as well?
Language was one of the parts interesting about it, and certainly one of the most eye-opening for me. One of the reasons we heard about Kristi and she got involved in the project is because she’d been working on a documentary for the CBC that was a behind-the-scenes documentary for a film they were filming in the summer in Haida Gwaii called The Edge of the Knife. That film was produced and directed and acted largely by members of the Haida nation. All of it is in the Haida dialect, which was done very intentionally as a way to document the language of the Haida because it’s been dying out and even fewer speak it. She was very aware of that and was able to connect us with people that could translate the Haida lines of which there were very few because we mostly interacted with members of the Songhees nation. The Songhees nation has even fewer people who speak it but Kristi was again instrumental in connecting us with some of the elders from the Songhees nation, a small handful of which are actually fluent in the language.

Home for the Holidays is a close-ended episode that doesn’t tie to story arcs, but you did bring in recurring characters to take part.
We brought in Ruth Newsome and Nina Bloom which places it a little bit in the chronology of the love lives of Higgins and Crabtree. It’s liberating to write something that isn’t linked to anything else. We allow for five to 10 per cent of the holiday episode to allow our characters to go a wild a little bit and let the spirit of the season overtake them for good or for bad. Let Margaret Brackenreid be a little bit nuttier than she usually would with her greed and then allow for a really sweet moment of redemption for anyone who does go off the rails.

Can you talk about the storyline involving the Ponzi scheme and the Brackenreids?
The Brackenreids always seem to be the heart of a holiday episode because they are the perfect nuclear family with kids whereas none of our other leads have that. It seems like there is always plenty of stuff to do with them at Christmastime. In terms of the investment storyline, that just came out of doing a little research and finding out that Charles Ponzi had landed in North America and on his way to Montreal to start his first little fraudulent cheque scheme. We thought it would be great to do something with him, and then we thought it would be great to have them almost lose the house to him and that it would be a perfect story to do at Christmas.

That’s crazy! Ponzi was in Canada during this time period?
I forget the exact time period. He landed in Boston first, I believe, and then he did go to Montreal. His first sort of criminal activity, as far as anyone knows, was working for a slightly shady bank in Montreal.

It continues to fascinate me how real-life historical figures and storylines can be worked into a storyline. I feel like a Murdoch Mysteries history class should be offered at a college.
[Laughs.] That would be fun. It would be a fun jumping-off point and I think that speaks to what we hope the show does for people in a more casual way. A professor who decided to teach history through the lens of Murdoch Mysteries would hopefully use each historical figure or incident as an opportunity to learn a lot more about it and to make sure they got all the details and facts right as opposed to the odd corner that we cut to make it fit into our episodes. And, hopefully, people who are watching the show and go off on their own and do a little more reading about it and actually understand the history.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

 

 

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