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Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries says goodbye to magical Season 2

Say it isn’t so! Season 2 of Frankie Drake Mysteries has come to an end already? I’m sad, but what a ride it’s been. I’ve enjoyed this sophomore set of 10 episodes under new showrunner James Hurst. Interesting cases, killer guest cast in folks like Natalie Brown and Anthony Lemke and lead character advancement has been a joy. Seeing Mary has been a particular treat; new we need to learn more about Flo.

On Monday, it’s the second season finale. Here’s what the CBC has revealed about “Now You See Her,” written by James Hurst and directed by Ruba Nadda.

When a magician’s assistant is killed, Frankie goes undercover to find the culprit. But can she see clearly through the smoke and mirrors?

And, for the last time this year, my thoughts after watching a screener.

The magic man
Saving Hope and Burden of Truth fans will be happy to see Benjamin Ayres appear in Monday’s season finale as Ben Sellers, a magician who is key to the case. Other guest cast include Timothy Dowler-Coltman, Amy Groening, Raoul Bhaneja, Mishka Thébaud and Murdoch Mysteries fan favourite Nigel Bennett.

Trudy’s in charge
With Frankie going undercover, her right-hand woman steps into the lead investigator role. It’s a great opportunity for Trudy to show her stuff and progression as a sleuth. As for Mary? Well, magicians aren’t her favourite thing. Kind of like me when it comes to clowns.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.


Comments and queries for the week of November 23

Please tell me that these possible murderers [on Canada’s Worst Driver] are never allowed to drive on the road. None of these drivers should be allowed to drive, ever. The commercials for this show are sickening enough, much less any episodes. The thought that these people exist and are willing to show how dangerous they are is mind-boggling. —B. Stanford

The Bob Sher [Murdoch Mysteries] piece was so interesting or, as Julia would say, fascinating! I especially enjoyed the info about covering parking meters, road lines and the colour palettes! Thanks for sharing!! —Linda

Can this dreadful website just get it over with and rename itself the “Murdoch Mysteries Fan-page?” Seriously, is this even journalism, or just nonsensical interviews about the aforementioned, and the less impressive Frankie Drake Mysteries (which would be taking no great stretch to rename itself “The Great Missed Opportunity.”) Honestly, this website really needs to start pulling its punches and discussing other Canadian TV shows, or at the very least looking at the ones it does under a more critical lens, lest it fall even further into sycophantic drivel that is already is! Shame! —Gary

Hey Gary, thanks for your comment. We’ll be covering a bunch of new and returning shows next month and in January. Look for Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, Burden of Truth, Frontier and Travelers, just to name a few. We recently covered the first season of Bletchley Circle and Season 2 of Bad Blood. You’re not a fan of Murdoch and Frankie Drake, but a lot of folks are and come to this site to get exclusive interviews and information on both. —GD

I’m hoping the success of Bad Blood will be a wake-up call to Citytv to not keep showing the American schlock on their station, and to invest in Canadian content more often. Our stories are great, our talent is amazing. Let’s continue to show the world who we are. —Mel

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


Preview: Murdoch Mysteries spotlights Brackenreid in “Secrets and Lies”

After a week off to celebrate Canadian literature with the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Murdoch Mysteries returns with “Secrets and Lies,” a very Inspector Brackenreid-centric instalment.

Here’s what the CBC has released with regard to an official synopsis:

When Brackenreid leaves Toronto to help an old friend find a missing woman, he learns he’s a lot closer to the case than he thought.

And here are more tidbits I gleaned after watching a screener for the episode, written by Peter Mitchell and directed by Leslie Hope.

What is Thomas up to?
The episode starts in disarray. Thomas Brackenreid is looking for someone, but it’s not clear who they are and what their relationship to him is. Not only that, it’s not even obvious where the good Inspector is. It’s all pretty unsettling. And then, well, what he says just past the four-minute mark will cause your jaw to drop.

John and Margaret put in an appearance
With Brackenreid at the centre of “Secrets and Lies,” it makes sense that his son and wife would be part of the storyline. It’s always nice to see Charles Vandervaart and Arwen Humphreys on-screen. Look for Raven Dauda, Shailene Garnett and Masa Lizdek in guest roles.

Meanwhile, at Station House No. 4 …
… Murdoch and Crabtree become more concerned as the hours tick by and the Inspector remains unaccounted for.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.


Murdoch Mysteries: Production designer Bob Sher reveals the on-location magic behind the show

Bob Sher and his team do amazing work on Murdoch Mysteries. And, if they do it really well, you don’t even notice it. That’s because Sher, the show’s production designer, is tasked with creating wonderful sets like William and Julia’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home and lesser-known items like hiding road paint and parking meters when the show is filming on location.

Sher, who has worked on projects like Dino Dan, Schitt’s Creek and Traders, gave me behind-the-scenes scoop on how he does it and how—thanks to Benjamin Moore—Murdoch Mysteries fans can paint their home to look just like William and Julia’s.

What does the title of production designer mean on Murdoch Mysteries?
Bob Sher: It involves the fact that you have to do a lot of research. You have to go back to 1906 and even before that. And then, when we go on location … building sets is one thing because you can do whatever you want. But when you go on a location you have to change all the signs, make sure that the street lights are right, cover up all the parking meters. And one of the biggest things, if you can believe it, is covering up the white lines and yellow lines on the street. It becomes a bit of a conundrum to get it all worked out and make sure everything is period correct.

We have such a dedicated audience that they will see a bus stop and they will write letters. So, you have to be really diligent about research and making sure everything is period correct, right down to a chain link fence. Even though it was invented in 1845, not everyone might know that.

Where do you go for all of that research? Is it done online?
BS: We go online. I also have a bunch of assistants that work with me. We also go to the Toronto Research Library and look at pictures of what life was like back then. Fortunately, there was a lot of photography taken back then. But then, it’s all black and white. The challenge is what I think the colours were back then and what others think the colours were back then. I take a lot of my cues from San Francisco. I visited there many years ago and a lot of the buildings were painted very strange colours. Mints, yellows and light greens. It looked very odd, but you know what? It was all historical. What I’ve tried to do in the last couple of years on Murdoch is try and get us into brighter colours and better colours and not just brown.

I know that a lot of the show before was what we called Murdoch brown. To me, the lighting was a little darker. So, we’ve tried to lighten it up with the colours on the walls and I think it’s made a bit of a difference. I think everyone is saying the show looks different and a little bit better, fortunately, because I’m not just using brown.

And with Joanna [Syrokomla] in wardrobe, we’re sort of coordinating with each other and she’s doing really beautiful costumes. Between us, we’ve kind of put it together and come up with a palette of colours and have really enhanced the colours of the show. The world wasn’t black and white back then. They had colour. And, in fact, they had richer colours than we had in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s because they used dyes from plants. That’s what I’m trying to do with the show. And Benjamin Moore, which are the colours I usually use, have historic colours. They’ve done their research into what historic colours are.

You mentioned covering up parking meters, signs and paint on the roads. How do you obscure that stuff?
BS: There are a couple of things that we do. One of the things that I’ve done is put birdseed on the lines. Birdseed has different colours. The only problem with birdseed is on a windy day it blows off. Another thing that we do is that I’ve had my scenic [painters] paint some rubber and vinyl, cut them into strips and lay them down on the street. The biggest problem with all that is that not all asphalt is the same colour. And if it rains, the asphalt gets even darker. It gets a little tricky. The other thing that we can do is we can place a wagon over top to hide the lines.

Now, in St. Mary’s, Ontario, they were so happy to see us that I asked the locations guy if he could ask the city if they could just paint out the yellow lines. Which they did. They painted out the white and yellow parking lines for us and then repainted it. Kudos to St. Mary’s for letting us do that.

A lot of the coverups are masked with crates; we’ll place a crate or barrel or street dressing in a particular position that, based on where the camera is pointing, it kind of hides it. With parking meters it’s a little trickier because you can’t just take them off. So, when we shoot in Cobourg say, we made covers that went over the parking meters that looked like you could tie a horse to it. It was sort of tongue and groove and was painted a Murdoch brown colour. And we just slipped them over the top of these parking meters. And every once in awhile we’d have a guy with a horse standing near it.

I have to ask you about the Frank Lloyd Wright house. It looks amazing.
BS: I thought that was a great opportunity that the producers and the writers have given me to move William and Julia out of their hotel that they’ve been in and take the leap that Frank Lloyd Wright was around [the area]. I’ve always been a fan of the guy anyway and it was just a lovely thing to do to have a brand-new set that looks totally different than anything else Murdoch has had. We did a lot of research into what the stained glass windows should look like, the different things that he puts in his houses, the tables, the chairs, the desk, everything. Some of the things we had to build because they’re too expensive to buy and some of them we got a pretty good deal on. That furniture is still pretty popular these days.

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

Image courtesy of CBC.


Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries deals out drama

While a new episode of Murdoch Mysteries was bumped from CBC’s Monday night schedule for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, fans of Frankie Drake Mysteries will be happy their favourite ladies remain intact. And what an episode! After a few weeks of Bessie Starkman vs. Frankie Drake, the gals go all out in “Dealer’s Choice.”

The CBC released the following synopsis of the episode, written by John Callaghan and directed by Ruba Nadda:

Frankie and Trudy reluctantly take a case from mob boss Bessie Starkman, but things take a turn when Frankie’s accused of murdering a mole.

And, as usual, here are my two cents after watching a screener.

Gambling gals
Frankie and Trudy are investigating the case of a lost silver pocket watch. It seems like a simple enough case. But a twist and a turn later and the pair are face-to-face with Bessie Starkman (Natalie Brown). Needless to say, Bessie is not happy to see Frankie. Bessie, if you remember, expressly warned the private investigator to steer clear of her dealings. Soon, Bessie finds herself grudgingly teaming up with Frankie in the hunt for the watch.

Guest stars galore
“Dealer’s Choice” boasts 19-2‘s Conrad Pla, The Expanse‘s Ted Whittall and The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Rohan Mead in various roles throughout the hour. Whittall’s character is a particular kind of cad. Recurring cast members Grace Lynn Kung and Anthony Lemke are featured too.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.