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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Kill Thy Neighbour”

After the fun of last week’s Murdoch Mysteries episode “Fox Hunt,” this one definitely takes a dark turn. And it also seems to rehash some much-traipsed ground.

Here’s what the CBC has released for the main storyline for “Kill Thy Neighbour,” written by Mary Pedersen and Noelle Girard, and directed by Craig David Wallace.

Suspicions fall on Murdoch when his unpleasant neighbour is murdered.

And here are a few observations from me after watching a screener.

Paul Braunstein = big payoff
When I first spotted Paul Braunstein as Raymond Huckabee earlier this season, I knew fans were in for more than just a casual storyline. Braunstein, who has appeared on Baroness Von Sketch and Burden of Truth is just a little too high-profile for a small B-story. He created such a big—albeit annoying—character in Raymond that it would make sense an angry William could be accused of his death.

Murdoch is out of sorts
Due to some emergency work being done at the house, William and Julia are back at the hotel. A lack of sleep has made William grumpy, short-tempered, distracted and more than a little paranoid. Not good traits to have when you are accused of murder and need to keep calm.

Guests aplenty
Jonelle Gunderson, Marc Senior, Sebastian Spence, Bea Santos and Clare McConnell all stop by to play.

Walking a worn trail?
As soon as I read this week’s synopsis I thought, “Again??” I feel like every major Murdoch Mysteries‘ character has been accused of someone’s murder and spent time behind bars. Heck, wasn’t Julia there twice and William once already? Why go there again? After watching the instalment … I loved it. Mainly thanks to a certain guest who is integral to making this week’s murder mystery so appealing.

I well-planted Easter egg
Look for a nod to grip Joe Strazzeri around the 37-minute mark.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.


Preview: Kortney and Dave pay it forward in Making it Home

I can’t help but like Kortney and Dave Wilson. They’re fun, don’t take things too seriously and they know their stuff. It’s served them well through shows like Masters of Flip and Music City Fix.

Now the duo is back with a brand-new program. Debuting Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on HGTV Canada, the exceptionally long-titled Making it Home with Kortney & Dave finds the pair in the Greater Toronto Area, helping families upgrade while keeping within tight budgets. It’s all about paying it forward and these two are ready to do it.

In the debut, Kortney and Dave are tasked with helping Michael and Elizabeth work on their home, which just happens to be Michael’s childhood house. That means plenty of 80s styles that have to go out the window in favour of an open, bright concept. Add in a mother-in-law, kids and oft-visiting in-laws … the house needs some major space re-jigging. And, with just over $100,000 budget, Kortney and Dave can’t do a full-on makeover.

In no time at all sledgehammers are swinging, dust is puffing about and the seven-week renovations are underway. The results are, as usual, stunning. But they’re also entirely within reach for a typical homeowner. In Making it Home, Dave and Kortney are eschewing the extravagance for the practical, the outlandish for the informative. And it’s just as entertaining as anything other series they’ve done.

Making it Home with Kortney & Dave airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on HGTV Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.


Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Fox Hunt”

Before I get into this week’s preview of Murdoch Mysteries‘ newest episode, I want to say a couple of quick thank yous.

First, thank you to CBC for inviting me to an incredible fan event celebrating 200 episodes. It’s always fun to be able to catch up with the people involved in making the show and it was an honour to sit with props master Craig Grant, costume designer Joanna Syrokomla and writers Mary Pedersen and Noelle Girard during the cast Q&A and screening.

Secondly, thank you to the Murdoch fans who made me feel like a rock star. Writing about this show we all love is a pleasure, and you telling me in person that you enjoy what I write and appreciate my thoughts on the show is something I don’t take lightly.

Now, on to this week’s episode! Here’s what the CBC has revealed about “Fox Hunt,” written by Simon McNabb and directed by Craig David Wallace:

When a fox hunter is killed, Murdoch suspects a group opposed to the sport.

And here are a few tidbits I gleaned from watching a screener.

The Mimico Newsomes have arrived
You can’t have an uppity social event without Rupert and Ruth! As usual, Cyrus Lane and Siobhan Murphy engage in some major scenery-chewing. I caught myself smiling every time they were on-screen, especially when Rupert revealed his post-Henry-Ruth nuptials adventures. Simon McNabb’s script is pitch-perfect for these two; can Rupert and Ruth please have their own spinoff or at least digital series?

Margaret appears
I was thrilled to see Margaret appear within the first seconds of “Fox Hunt.” And, if you listen closely, you hear Margaret discuss the story behind the dress she’s wearing.

Horses and Huckabees
It’s wonderful to see Thomas, William and others astride their equine co-stars. Meanwhile, Julia has a mystery at home involving the Murdoch’s next-door neighbours.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.


Comments and queries for the week of January 17

Episode 200 of Murdoch Mysteries was great, with an entertaining story and acting. Depiction of the historical figures was clever. It was fun to see George’s imagination appreciated by no less a genius than Albert Einstein. Sally Pendrick was a terrific choice for the arch villain. The Murdoch regulars were at their best. —Mary

“So Liam takes on the house as a project and keeps renovating for her and doing acts of service for her and kindness.”

So Coroner‘s Liam is Jenny’s Eldon? :-) (Murphy Brown reference)

Seriously, I often wonder, Why on earth would one character find another character attractive? There’s nothing there for someone to find them attractive. Perhaps, it’s the fact that the writers only need a simply drawn foil for the main character.

But on this show, I can see why the two of them got together and the actors and writers do a really great job at making the relationship real. These kind of small scenes they create keeps me tuning in each week. —John

Oh hellooooo I’ve seen that lead actor in a couple of other Canadian series and he is a cutie!!! Looking forward to Transplant. Didn’t know John Hannah was gonna be in it too … interesting. —Sarah

Got a question about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.


Fortunate Son’s Kari Matchett: “This part is perfect for me. I can’t even imagine a better part for me.”

How would the stresses of breaking the law—no matter how well-intentioned—affect a marriage and a family? That’s explored in Fortunate Son, CBC’s Wednesday night miniseries.

Created and written by Andrew Wreggitt, Fortunate Son stars Kari Matchett as Ruby Howard, an American activist in Canada who isn’t merely happy with vocally protesting the Vietnam War; she does something about it. That includes helping smuggle American soldier Travis Hunter (Darren Mann) over the border into Canada. And though her husband, Ted (Rick Roberts), supports his wife, increased scrutiny on the family hints something has got to give.

We spoke to Kari Matchett about Ruby, getting into character and signing on to Fortunate Son.

I was speaking to Andrew Wreggitt and I asked him about the casting of you and he said that as soon as he saw you audition, he knew that you were the perfect person for this role. What’s your reaction to that?
Kari Matchett: That’s great. I didn’t know that. He didn’t tell me that. Wow. Well you know, my initial reaction through reading the character description was, ‘I must play this part. This part is f–king perfect for me. I can’t even imagine a better part for me.’ It encapsulated so much of what I’m interested in. The late 60s … I’ve always, since my teens, been obsessed with that era. I also love what was happening at the time politically. The social unrest, the issues with inequality of the sexes, of the races. All of those things are still happening now.

And it, I felt, was the perfect time to do a show about this. And I also thought, ‘I can’t believe nobody’s ever done a show about this time, this era before.’

I knew nothing about the sheer number of Americans that were coming over the border during this time to avoid the Vietnam War. This was all new to me.
KM: In 1968 after [Pierre] Trudeau became prime minister, he instructed the border guards—which doesn’t mean they did this, but he instructed them—to not ask draft-age men, whatever in the way you want to look at them, not ask them anything about it. Trudeau stood up against what was going on in Vietnam. When you see American governance, he was anti-Vietnam. So it’s a really proud moment in Canadian history as well.

I was talking to an older friend of mine the other day and I said, ‘Look, was it the political arena that was less heated, but in terms of was it easier? Would it have been easier for Trudeau at that time to do that then, let’s say now?’ And he said, ‘No way.’ Which is why we love Pierre Trudeau. It is a real proud time in Canadian history, that Canada did that.

Getting into the characters a bit, I love the interaction that Ruby has with Travis. I just loved his performance and the scenes that the two of you had together are just fantastic. 
KM: I loved working with him. In fact, I think Darren and I are very similar in that we’re actually quite serious and so we gave each other a lot of space and oxygen, but we also when we’re not shooting, we have a great time together. So it’s sort of serious on the set, plus it is really serious stuff, and he was going through serious stuff. Ruby’s going through serious stuff. We’re both quite quiet when we’re working and we both do our own thing and then when we’re not working we sort of have an amazing time. He’s a lovely guy. I just love him.

How did the wardrobe and hair help you get into Ruby’s headspace?
KM: Every character that I’ve done, whether or not it’s a period piece, the clothing is a major part of the character. It took us a long time with the wardrobe to find the right things that worked for Ruby. Ruby is in her mid-40s so, I mean she was born in about 1922 so it’s not like Ralph and Destiny where I was just like, ‘Let’s throw on a long skirt and big hoop earrings and let’s go do the hippie thing.’ I would’ve loved that, except that that just wasn’t the case. Women were not allowed to wear pants in institutions.

Ruby hasn’t been working in an institution for two years, but she’s still a woman who was born in 1922 and she’s a firebrand and a political activist and she’s her own woman. So who is she? The coming together of all of those worlds, how does that work in terms of what she wears? So, just naturally from having worked in Princeton, she would have had a lot of skirts in her closet that she would still wear, because she grew up wearing skirts, she’s comfortable in skirts. She wore skirts, you know, but also has to wear pants. It’s a political thing. And I’m going to wear pants because I can wear pants. But it was still relatively new for women to do that at that time.

And then deciding to wear a pair of boots because it rains a lot and she lived in a country that’s being muddy. So putting all of those things together. When we finally got to her skirts with her boots and she put her hair up because she’s working in the scarf. Then suddenly it was like, ‘Here she is.’ She appeared, but it was a lot of elements to put together to make that happen. It didn’t fall off the truck that way.

As the first two episodes unfold, there is this relationship with her husband, played by Rick Roberts. He’s into the smuggling and helping. But to a point, he’s still got to keep that front up and is urging her to keep that front up as well. It’s fascinating to see this relationship become very at odds because of this kid that she’s helping out.
KM: It’s a complicated relationship, and I mean we find out later that Rick’s character is actually sort of the original activist, but then he sort of pulled back and things changed. And, as marriages do and people evolve in different ways. He became a little calmer and a little mellower and didn’t want to be so on the front lines of the activist world. How does a marriage survive that? How do you parent together? How do kids fare in that world? And Andrew, he’s such a brilliant writer, he wrote these complicated characters in situations that were just rich.

Fortunate Son airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.