All posts by Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.

Interview: Murdoch Mysteries ties the knot

It took eight seasons, but Murdoch Mysteries fans got the storyline they wanted. After what felt like an endless string of will-they-or-won’t-they moments Dr. Julia Ogden and Det. William Murdoch finally tied the knot in front of friends and family in a ceremony that wasn’t without hiccups. Script writer Paul Aitken threw one more wrinkle at the pair by having them realize who the real culprit in a murder case was while kneeling at the altar. Cracking the case caused the pair to stand up and make ready to depart the proceedings … until Inspector Brackenreid ordered them to say their vows and make the wedding official.

In what I hope will become a weekly column with Murdoch‘s writers for the rest of the season, I spoke to co-executive producer and writer Aitken about Monday’s landmark 100th episode and the wedding we’d all be waiting for.

After teasing fans for so long, it was fun to have that final twist where it looked like William and Julia would forgo their vows one final time to solve a crime.
Paul Aitken: We came up with the wedding idea before we even came up with the central plot. And we wanted them to do exactly that; run away from the altar and then have Brackenreid stop them. We built the rest of the episode kind of around that moment. What we didn’t want to do was what they did on Bones, which was essentially to devote the last act entirely to their kind of gushy wedding. We wanted to basically play a bit with our fans who have been expecting, I think, something to go wrong and immediately set that right.

Was there a point when everyone decided the wedding would happen this season and during the 100th episode, or did it happen that way as a happy coincidence?
PA: It was entirely a happy coincidence. Because the wedding was going to be a special episode and the 100th was going to be a special episode, we had actually planned for two special episodes out of this. The original plan was to have the Murdoch origin episode, which was written by Maureen Jennings, be the 100th episode. But we found it was difficult to work the present mystery into the origin mystery so we couldn’t solve that in time. So we defaulted to the wedding being the 100th episode, and in the end I think it was the right decision.

Did anyone on the team want to wait and perhaps have the wedding at the end of this season or even push it to future seasons. Or have them never get together?
PA: No. Never having them get together was never an option. We’ve been promising the audience pretty much from the get-go that these two belong together and you simply can’t end the series without them ultimately being together. We would have absolutely kept them apart if we could think of a single reason how. Without stretching plausibility to the breaking point. Everyone is a little nervous that they’re married now and there won’t be the same dramatic kind of thrust to the show and we’ll see what the audience thinks. We may lose some audience, but we simply could not maintain it dramatically and have it be at all believable.

Do you have those same fears?
PA: Not too much. Ultimately we’re a murder mystery. We always tell good mysteries and our return audience will always be there. I think those that were in the show only because they were waiting for Murdoch and Ogden to get together, we may lose some of those people. I don’t think they were our main audience base and I don’t think people tune into our show to see a soap opera. They tune in to see a mystery that has elements of soaps and of characters and of continuing storylines.

How did the writing of this script go? Did Peter weigh in with some notes or did you have carte blanche because you’ve been with the show for so long as a writer and producer?
PA: This is true on almost every episode; it’s a room-based story. The writer goes away and does a draft and the writers’ room weighs in with notes and it’s very much a product of several different hands and several different voices. It’s very collaborative and this was no different. We broke the story in the room and then I went away and wrote the script and then I got notes. This is the result of all that.

The audience wanted more Margaret Brackenreid [Arwen Humphreys] and you gave it to them. She was great as the frenetic wedding planner.
PA: Arwen is great and I love the character of Margaret Brackenreid. I’ve written her several times and I take particular pleasure in writing her because she is the only person who tops Brackenreid. Brackenreid is the boss of everybody, but she is definitely the boss of Brackenreid!

Is there anything that you’re particularly proud of, looking back over these past 100 episodes?
PA: I’m very proud of the show. I think we hit the sweet spot right out of the gate. We had great characters and great actors playing those characters. As actors do, they bring something to the role that ignites our interest as writers, so we tend to write to that. That happened very quickly. It’s largely luck as much as anything. I feel an enormous amount of pride about the whole enterprise and am very happy that we’ve kept it going as long as we have. When we first started I said, ‘We can only go two seasons because that’s as many ideas that I can come up with!’ I come into every season with zero ideas and somehow it works. Somehow we come up with the ideas as we go through. As long as the audience sticks with us we’ll come up with ideas.

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

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Review: Jade and Georgie team up on Heartland

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday night Jade had basically alienated herself on Heartland after holding a party at the dude ranch, and this week she and Georgie were starring in their own buddy comedy.

Not that it was easy. Things are never easy at Heartland. But thanks to some mighty big patience on the part of Jack, Jade turned her snark into smiles. Learning that Jade was upset with her mother for going to Toronto and finding a new man went a long way to making me understand why the teen was being so hard to get along with. And why she was holding both horses and humans at arm’s length. Credit Georgie with cracking Jade’s hard shell via a mixture of compassion and stubbornness. And give Dash the horse some credit too; if it hadn’t have been for him Jade may not have bonded with the Heartland crew. Putting Georgie in the position of “boss” over Jade was a pretty brilliant idea by Jack: it forced Georgie to test her own patience–something she’s had a short supply of with Amy lately–and delegate tasks too.

Meanwhile, Ty further evolved as a character–and a man–by taking on the poachers. I had a feeling that Bob wasn’t the laid-back stoner we’d been introduced to. The fact he took money from the poachers and then looked the other way when they slaughtered bears for their gall bladders got me hot under the collar too, so I was totally behind Ty’s high-flying tackle of that one dude. Amy may not be happy with the direction Ty is going in his life but I’m think it’s a fascinating story angle. Reporting Bob to Wildlife and Game was a bold move and apologizing to Scott was a mature one. And I’m happy that Ty is back working with Scott again; their partnership is just too good to ignore.

Alas, Amy and Ty’s partnership is still fizzling. The most awkward scene of the night was at the end, when Amy and Ty passed each other on the road. After a few stilted lines of dialogue, Ty looked off into the distance and rebuffed Amy’s “I miss you” with a dimissive “take care of yourself.” Ouch.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

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Comments and queries for the week of Oct. 31

Hi, I saw your post about getting on Skatoony. I really want to go on it, will you help me?–Brandon

Sorry, but no new episodes of Telethon’s hybrid live action/animated game show are planned at this time.

Huge fan of Saving Hope‘s Alex and Joel. The show gets more interesting when it utilizes Erica and Daniel’s awesome chemistry together.–Cassie

 

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Fire off an email to greg@tv-eh.com!

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Review: Double Trouble in Haven

Audrey may be back, but her return didn’t come without its complications. Sure, Nathan may be thrilled to be rolling around in bed with his favourite gal, but his guts were telling him Audrey’s split with Mara came with a price: Audrey was no longer immune to Troubles.

That was the least of Nathan’s Ttroubles, as it turned out. The problem of the week, a case of three people disappearing in a flash of bright light and leaving a shadow of themselves cast on a wall or floor, ended up happening to Nathan. The title of the episode, “Nowhere Man,” suddenly made sense. (I’d initially thought the instalment was going to be a Dwight back story, but no.) Nathan was trapped in some in-between world, still able to hear Audrey asking for him on the phone but her unable to hear his answers. And when he tried to touch the phone? His hand slipped right through it like he was a ghost.

“It’s Haven. It could be anything,” Nathan said in an effort to calm his nerves after Officer Rebecca entered his office and walked right through him. “What is this? What is this?!” What indeed? The negative of the situation was obvious, but it did have a few perks. Nathan was able to overhear members of the Guard discussing how they’d take care of Audrey as soon as she slipped up. Sadly, Nathan didn’t use his powers to prank anyone.

Despite a slightly disheveled dude named Glenn who could see and touch Nathan telling him they were both dead, I didn’t believe it. Sure, this is Haven and anything can happen, but making one of the three main characters dead didn’t make sense, even if Saving Hope has made a series out of it. Still, I did kind of wonder how long the story angle would go on, especially when Nathan was introduced to Morgan Gardener (Malcolm in the Middle‘s Christopher Masterson) at the cemetery. (Kudos to the Haven cast who had to ignore Lucas Bryant every time he spoke his lines. Not reacting to him must have been difficult to do. I try to ignore my cat all the time and it never works.)

Of course, the only living person who could see and hear Nathan was Mara, which not only confirmed Nathan’s suspicions that he wasn’t really dead but also compounded the problem. Now he had to work with her in an effort to shed the Trouble affecting him.

Alas, there were no answers by the end of the episode, just more questions. Nathan’s plan to have Morgan and Len help get them all back to the land of the living was thwarted when Nathan returned to the cemetery to discover Glenn dead–really and truly, it seemed–and Morgan missing. Was this the work of recently disappeared Guard member Reggie? We’ll find out next week.

  • “Right. Because that’s going to make you smarter.”–Nathan watching Duke pour himself a drink
  • Mitchell and the Guard are getting a tad stale. The tough looks, the bully posturing and the empty threats. I understand them being upset thinking Audrey was still Mara and their bud Reggie disappearing, but geez. Lighten up.
  • Also, how much time passed each time Nathan had to get somewhere? Morgan said he’d be doing a lot of walking, so he had to hoof it everywhere he went. And yet he was never tired or sweaty. Guess that was a side advantage of the Trouble. No eating, sleeping aging … or sweating.
  • Is Duke letting Mara pee?

Haven airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showcase.

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