By Diane Wild of TV, eh?
The first new Murdoch Mysteries season to air on CBC will start Monday with an episode on the invention of human-controlled flight, a theme star Yannick Bisson finds fitting considering the series is finding new wings with a new network. He promises an intensified look at William Murdochâ€™s romantic life plus intriguing guest stars such as Thomas Howes (Downton Abbey) as Winston Churchill , Andrew Gower (Being Human) as Sherlock Holmes and Geraint Wyn Davies reprising his role as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
â€œThe feeling that someone cares and considers the value of the show has Â made it night and day for us,â€ Bisson said about the transition from CityTV to CBC in a recent interview at CBCâ€™s Vancouver Open House and Food Bank Day. â€œItâ€™s put some jump in our step. I couldnâ€™t be happier.â€
Even CBCâ€™s airing of season 5 this fall â€“ a season that had just aired over the summer on Citytv â€“ were getting bigger ratings in reruns than the first-run episodes on CityTV. The public broadcaster has a bigger reach across the country, but Bisson also considers it a better fit for the show and is grateful for the consistent timeslot and major promotional efforts.
Even before the move, though, Murdoch was a hit with audiences in Canada and the UK especially. Bisson points to one possible explanation for its success.
â€œSome journalists have said the show hasnâ€™t quite found its tone â€“ is it a comedy, is it a drama? Well, itâ€™s not any particular thing. We started doing period when no one was doing it. Itâ€™s sometimes funny, itâ€™s sometimes macabre, itâ€™s sometimes fraught with drama. Itâ€™s not always the same thing and thatâ€™s what I like about it, and I think what a lot of people like about it. Plus you can sit down with your family, thereâ€™s a resolution, and it touches on a lot of topics.â€
Though heâ€™s been acting for 30 years, Murdoch is the most time heâ€™s spent with one character, and the one he jokes has legitimized his career choice to those close to home. â€œUntil Murdoch crept over to Quebec, most of my family said ‘oh yeah, I hear Yannickâ€™s an actor, whatever.’ Now they actually believe me.â€
Heâ€™s also directed the season premiere for the last few years, allowing him to keep even more invested in the show and to â€œexercise some creativity I wouldnâ€™t ordinarily be able to.â€ It helps stave off any boredom a star might end up feeling during a long-running series, enough that he sees a long future ahead.
â€œWe could continue for several more seasons â€“ thereâ€™s so many places the story could go. I mean, you have 200 more years,â€ he laughed about the series thatâ€™s just now entering the 20th century. â€œOK, so letâ€™s say another 10.â€
Murdoch isnâ€™t his entire life, of course. He pursues other acting jobs as his schedule allows, and also has three daughters who have various interests in performing. He wouldnâ€™t necessarily advocate for them to follow in his footsteps, especially when they were younger, given his own experiences in the industry.
â€œI would definitely encourage my kids in anything â€¦ but Iâ€™m not going to do anything to make it too easy for them,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a long haul being an actor. It takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot of work. On the surface there are a lot of misconceptions about the industry, and it is no place for kids. I was quite young and thatâ€™s why I feel comfortable saying that. People throw their kids to the wolves and itâ€™s not because theyâ€™re bad people, itâ€™s because itâ€™s business. Even if your kid was a prodigy and had a mind for engineering, you wouldnâ€™t throw them in a 9 to 5 or worse job writing code or designing a bridge. Thatâ€™s what showbiz is — itâ€™s long hours and a lot of pressure and not always the nicest people.â€
Murdoch Mysteries has been a positive experience for him, however, as well as for the audience who, it would seem a safe guess, will only grow as season six runs on CBC.
â€œThe great thing about the show is you can pop in any time,â€ he said. â€œThere are continuing arcs â€“ the romantic aspect of the show is examined more closely this year, but the episodes are self-contained. Thereâ€™s a little for everybody, like seasons past, if a little slicker now.â€
Murdoch Mysteries season six premieres January 7 on CBC.