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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “The Final Curtain”

The last time John Brackenreid was on Murdoch Mysteries, it was in the two-part Season 12 finale. John had been shot, recuperated and announced to his parents that he was going to quit being a copper and pursue a career as an actor.

We catch up with John during Monday’s episode, “The Final Curtain,” written by Simon McNabb and directed by Mina Shum. Here’s what the CBC has revealed as the main storyline:

An actor is killed at a play attended by Murdoch, Ogden, Crabtree, and Brackenreid.

And, as always, here are a few tidbits from me after watching a screener.

The Final Curtain
Not only is this the name of the episode, but it’s also the name of the play John Brackenreid stars in. As the episode begins, we join the main characters at the theatre. Watts makes quite the entrance and Murdoch asks a question I always wonder when I attend the theatre. Watching the performance, and how our favourite characters consume and comment on it, is several minutes of fun. And, I think, more than one gentle poke at some critics along the way.

Margaret gets some attention
And Brackenreid isn’t bloody happy about it.

Guests aplenty
Look for Jim Mezon as Grayson Howard, Sara Garcia (X Company) as Ada Cunningham, Jessica Huras as Joan Dalloway, Aidan Moreno as Barney Finch and Ivan Sherry as Herbert Gould (he portrayed Mayor Hopkins back in 2012).

A bottle episode
A traditional bottle episode of television refers to the fact the storyline takes place on just one set. It’s traditionally done to keep production costs down. I have no idea if that’s why Monday’s episode stays in the theatre, but it’s a nice (and literal) change of scenery.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Comments and queries for the week of November 15

We are reminded from time to time that Murdoch Mysteries is, first and foremost, a procedural, solving crimes, it’s just that we were given these two wonderful characters, thanks to the chemistry between the actors, who added an element of fun and romance and we have been expecting it ever since in every episode (it does happen in other shows!). Although Murdoch and his colleagues are very good at solving murders, the tandem William and Julia makes it so much more fascinating instead. Let’s face it procedurals, however clever, are still dull. The showrunners/writers understood that. I hope they have not lost their way. I too relish earlier episodes compared to what we are seeing now. I still think Watts, however quirky at first, is now an uninteresting character who is given far too much attention. That actor should find another gig! Henry fills that role much better especially with Ruth! —Noele

I liked the episode “Toronto the Bad,” and watched it with interest. Dynamic development of the plot with an unexpected ending, excellent acting. We first saw the work of Henry as a taxi driver. It is very touching to see him tired for the well-being of his beloved wife. Lots of fun, enjoyable scenes that I really love in Murdoch Mysteries. This is the mysterious disappearance of a pelican figurine from the house of Murdoch, who was nevertheless stolen by a bad neighbour. The surprise and fun was the route in the house of Julia and William due to a breakdown of the vacuum cleaner. And of course, William’s game of billiards and his expression in the finals! I wonder if Julia, whom she tells William about, will get a raise? I hope that she will not receive it and will return to investigations again. Many fans of the show agree that Julia and William do it very well. Looking forward to the next episodes! —Lilia

Must writers screw up Murdoch Mysteries constantly, or maybe, it’s time to hire new ones? Yes to adding comedy, but stick to solving murders. Yes to Julia and William working together, not writers creating personal problems again. Crabtree’s new relationship is good, until the writers destroy it . Watts is a Sherlock Holmes type crime solver, until the writer’s agenda takes over. The new Parker detective is a good addition, but will he around long? Sorry to be grumpy, but Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian TV treasure, to hopefully carry on for ever, eh? —Nolan

I’d love to hear a response from producers about the Watts situation considering so many are pointing out the inconsistency in this storyline. Considering the popularity of the show you’re seeing that people do pay attention to this kind of thing. —Pierce

OK here’s one. Watts, like many young men and women of the period (and even today), tried for years to suppress his natural tendencies to fit in with the norms and morals of the society he lived in. As such he even overcompensated in his attempts to find a woman he could live with and perhaps marry. But then given an alternative (a chance at a relationship with a man) he decided to be true to himself. Victorian literature (and history) is full of examples of this kind of character. I would be so bold that even today there are many who are suppressing their natural desires to try and fit in. —Peter Mitchell

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

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Preview: Sable Island’s other inhabitants celebrated in Seals of Sable

Sable Island is a truly unique place. Situated off the coast of Nova Scotia, the small spit of land is home to feral horses that have grabbed headlines around the world. Not gathering as much attention? The grey seals that frequent the island too. That all changes on Friday night.

Airing at 9 p.m. under The Nature of Things banner, “Seals of Sable,” follows filmmakers Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason of Sea to Sea Productions Inc., as they track the largest breeding colony of grey seals in the world. Every winter, tens of thousands of female seals arrive to give birth, and the duo is there with scientists and experts for it. Led by biologist Nell den Heyer, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the group seeks answers to the many questions they have about grey seals. The only time the cigar-shaped animals come to shore is to rest, moult and give birth, so the three weeks they spend on Sable will be invaluable.

Cameras capture the moment of birth—labour can be a days-long affair—through the bonding and feeding of pups (each pup’s hungry call is unique). Along the way, scientists continue to mark and track individual seals, tracing populations and survival rates. Does a female seal’s personality give her pup and better-than-average chance at survival? It would seem so. The grey seal has seen a boom in its numbers in the last few decades despite commercial fishing; what are they eating? A little of that will hopefully be answered by attaching video cameras to seals named Emma, Kate and Fiona.

Through amazing camera work and the down-to-earth, accessible language The Nature of Things is known for, “Seals of Sable” is a fascinating peek into the lives of that island’s other residents.

“Seals of Sable” airs as part of The Nature of Things, Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries, “Ward of the Roses”

Last week’s episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries took a 90-degree turn from the light storylines we’ve come to expect from the series.

In a tearful exchange between Flo and Mary, Flo discussed being sexually assaulted years before. It was a bold choice to cover a topic like that on a show I’ve come to view as lighter in tone than its Monday night neighbour, Murdoch Mysteries. I doff my cap to showrunner Peter Mitchell and his writing team for tackling the subject.

Here’s how the CBC describes this week’s episode, “Ward of the Roses,” written by Andrew Burrows-Trotman and directed by Stephen Reizes.

An old friend of Trudy’s needs her help when she finds herself at the centre of a highly fraught election campaign.

And here are more details from me after watching a screener.

Olunike Adeliyi guest stars
The Workin’ Moms and American Gods actress joins 1920s Toronto as Etta Rose, who is running for Alderwoman of The Ward. While discussing how the voting preparations are going with Trudy and Frankie, they are visited by former Alderman William Hubbard. Look for Richard Walters to reprise his role as Tickles Malone, Flashpoint‘s Mark Taylor as Boyzey Pembroke, Marvin Kaye as a talkative bartender and Jann‘s Deborah Grover.

A history of The Ward
Anyone who is interested in Toronto history and learning about The Ward will enjoy some of the facts unearthed by Frankie, Mary, Flo and Mary in “Ward of the Roses.” If you want to learn more, read this excellent book.

No Frankie next week
Frankie Drake Mysteries is pre-empted on Monday, Nov. 18, because of the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Toronto the Bad”

I loved last week’s episode for a couple of reasons. The first was some quality emotional roller coasters regarding William and Julia. I know it’s not a very popular opinion among some fans, but I enjoy it when a wrench is thrown into their lives. Relationships aren’t easy in real life and there’s no reason they should be on television either.

The second reason I enjoyed “The Philately Fatality” was the revelation that Watts may be gay. Whether he turns out to be or not—yes, he entered the butcher’s apartment, but that’s all we saw, other than a curious and excited look on Watts’ face—I love the journey this character has gone on and the way Daniel Maslany has played it. The writers and actors have created some truly memorable characters over the last 13 seasons and Watts is one of them.

Now, on to Monday’s new episode, “Toronto the Bad,”  written by Dan Trotta and directed by Sherren Lee. Here’s what the CBC has revealed about it.

While moonlighting as a cab driver, Higgins finds a dead passenger in the backseat.  

And here are more details from me after watching a screener.

Higgins takes on a second job
It’s been hinted at before; now Higgins has jumped into a side career as a cab driver to make economical ends meet. Higgins is known more for comic relief, but you can feel the lack of sleep he’s feeling as he drives around Toronto in the dead of night. It’s also an opportunity for viewers to see the seedier side of the city, something we don’t see on the show often. Kudos to director Sherren Lee and director of photography Yuri Yakubiw for making Toronto look so sleazy.

Brackenreid and Murdoch on the case
I always enjoy it when Thomas puts on a hat and hits the street with William. The old-school versus new-school take on investigating is fun to observe.

Mrs. Huckabee drops by
William and Julia’s neighbour, Goldie Huckabee (Jonelle Gunderson) swings by for a snoop, er, visit. It gives Julia the opportunity to show off some of their home’s decorations. Also, look for Annie Briggs (CLAIREvoyant) as Lucille Anderson, the owner of MacRury’s Billiard Hall; Erik Knudsen (Continuum) as Frank Rizzo; Ethan Burnett as Tim Little, and veteran thespian Jason Blicker (Jann, What Would Sal Do?) as David Dillinger.

A nod to Hill Street Blues?
Something Murdoch says to Higgins has me convinced Dan Trotta is giving a salute to the classic cop drama.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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