Everything about Murdoch Mysteries, eh?

Lucky 13! Cameras roll on Season 13 of #1 Canadian drama Murdoch Mysteries for CBC and UKTV

From a media release:

Shaftesbury announced today that #1 Canadian drama* MURDOCH MYSTERIES has begun production on Season 13, for CBC and UKTV, distributed by ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment. With 18 new one-hour episodes, Season 13 will see the beloved series celebrate its 200th episode. Starring Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, Jonny Harris, and Thomas Craig, the internationally acclaimed series averaged 1.1 million viewers each week on CBC in Season 12,** and in the U.K. remains one of Alibi’s top-performing shows. MURDOCH MYSTERIES Season 13 will film on location in Ontario until November 2019, and premiere on CBC this fall, with international dates to follow.

With personal and professional changes for some of the Station House No. 4 team last year, Season 13 will continue to explore new developments in the lives of Detective William Murdoch (Bisson), Dr. Julia Ogden (Joy), Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Craig), Constables George Crabtree (Harris) and Henry Higgins-Newsome (Lachlan Murdoch), and Detective Llewelyn Watts (Daniel Maslany) as they tackle Toronto’s toughest mysteries, from the serious and historic to the comical and unusual. Returning cast also include Shanice Banton, Arwen Humphreys, and Siobhan Murphy. Season 13 guest stars include Colm Feore (The Umbrella AcademyHouse of Cards) and Claire Goose (The CoronerCasualty).

Yannick Bisson returns to the director’s chair for a Season 13 episode. Other episodes will be directed by showrunner Peter Mitchell, Harvey Crossland, Gary Harvey, Mars Horodyski, Sherren Lee, Mina Shum, and Craig David Wallace. Season 13 episodes are written by Mitchell, Paul Aitken, Noelle Girard, Maureen Jennings, Simon McNabb, Mary Pedersen, and Dan Trotta.

One of Canada’s most successful and longest-running dramas, MURDOCH MYSTERIES (13 seasons; 207 total episodes – 204 x one-hour episodes, 3 x two-hour specials) has become a staple for CBC and broadcasters around the world with its winning formula that brings together compelling mysteries, unique slices of turn-of-the-century history, ingenious inventions and personal moments for each character. The series is licensed to broadcasters in 150+ countries and territories including the U.S., U.K., France, Finland and China.

The MURDOCH MYSTERIES brand continues to grow and evolve – brand licensing deals include an all-ages immersive game experience, The Murdoch Mysteries Escape Series, a collaboration between Shaftesbury and Company & Co. that launched in early 2017 in Toronto, and recently relocated to historic Casa Loma in Toronto.

MURDOCH MYSTERIES is based on Maureen Jennings’s popular Detective Murdoch series of novels and premiered in Canada in January 2008.

MURDOCH MYSTERIES is executive produced by Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie, Yannick Bisson, Hélène Joy, and Peter Mitchell, who also serves as showrunner, and produced by Stephen Montgomery and Julie Lacey.

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Link: From Coronation Street to Canada, expat Thomas Craig on life as a man of Mysteries

From Bill Gibb of the Sunday Post:

Link: From Coronation Street to Canada, expat Thomas Craig on life as a man of Mysteries
“A few weeks later I got a call saying I was down to the last two, then I got the job without ever having met anybody. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I’ve been cast purely on my showreel.” Continue reading. 

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CBC announces first round of renewals for the 2019-20 season

From a media release:

As Canadian Screen Week kicks off and CBC celebrates 236 nominations at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, the national public broadcaster is confirming an initial round of original scripted and unscripted renewals for the upcoming 2019-20 season on CBC and the CBC Gem streaming service. To date, 17 titles across drama, comedy, factual, arts and documentary programming have been confirmed to return, with additional renewals across all genres and content areas to be announced later this spring.

Returning series for 2019-20 confirmed to date are as follows:

  • ANNE WITH AN E (Season 3, 10×60, Northwood Entertainment)*
  • BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (Season 4, 10×30, Frantic Films)*
  • BURDEN OF TRUTH (Season 3, 8×60, ICF Films, Entertainment One and Eagle Vision)
  • CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTS (Season 5, 26×30, CBC Arts)
  • CBC DOCS POV (Season 5, 18×60)
  • CORONER (Season 2, 8×60, Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Films and Cineflix Studios)
  • THE DETECTIVES (Season 3, 8×60, WAM Media GRP Inc.)
  • DRAGONS’ DEN (Season 14, 10×60, CBC)*
  • FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (Season 3, 10×60, Shaftesbury)
  • THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (Season 3, 9×60, Proper Television)*
  • HEARTLAND (Season 13, 10×60, Seven24 Films and Dynamo Films)
  • IN THE MAKING (Season 2, 8×30, White Pine Pictures)
  • KIM’S CONVENIENCE (Season 4, 13×30, Thunderbird Entertainment)*
  • MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Season 13, 18×60, Shaftesbury)
  • THE NATURE OF THINGS (Season 59, 18×60)
  • SCHITT’S CREEK (Season 6, final season – 14×30, Not A Real Company Productions Inc.)*
  • STILL STANDING (Season 5, 13×30, Frantic Films)*

*Previously announced as returning

CBC is celebrating 236 nominations at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, a new record for the national public broadcaster. ANNE WITH AN E and SCHITT’S CREEK each received 15 nominations – the most for any scripted series this year. THE NATURE OF THINGS was honoured with 21 nominations and CBC DOCS POV received seven. Other returning titles that were nominated include: BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (5), FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (5), THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (5), MURDOCH MYSTERIES (5), STILL STANDING (4), IN THE MAKING (3), THE DETECTIVES (2), BURDEN OF TRUTH (1) and DRAGONS’ DEN (1).

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Murdoch Mysteries: Charles Vandervaart discusses the Season 12 finale

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the Murdoch Mysteries Season 12 finale, “Darkness Before Dawn, Part 2.”

Wow, what a season finale! After worrying John Brackenreid would never walk again, his second surgery was a success and, it appears, Margaret and Thomas Brackenreid’s marriage may be on the mend. But there are still a few niggling questions left remaining. William knows Miss Hart planted evidence in the murder case and in doing that scored the coroner’s job. Meanwhile, Dr. Dixon has made it VERY clear he’s interested in Julia. Here’s hoping we get answers when Murdoch Mysteries is renewed for Season 13.

To close out my season-long Murdoch Mysteries interviews, I spoke to Charles Vandervaart, who has been playing John Brackenreid for a handful of seasons now, about how he got on the show in the first place and the evolution of John over the years.

Let’s get your origin story. How did you end up on Murdoch Mysteries in the first place? Did you go through the traditional means, an audition? 
Charles Vandervaart: Yeah, I auditioned. I actually originally auditioned for the role of Bobby Brackenreid, funny enough, way back when. I did the scene where he’s playing in the sandbox and he gets abducted. But that didn’t work out. So about two years later, I auditioned for the role of John. You know, I didn’t think it would last this long, this many seasons. But I’ve been very fortunate that they keep writing me in and developing my character. I’m a happy camper.

You have literally grown up onscreen, on Murdoch Mysteries. That must be a little bit mind-blowing to think about.
CV: Yeah. It’s hilarious. And I love watching reruns. It’s like watching old home movies. I’ve been really lucky. This and The Stanley Dynamic was the other show that I was on when I was younger … both of these shows have really helped me get comfortable in front of the camera. I’m definitely a believer that the best of kind of acting lesson is just being on set and being with all these other actors and getting directions from all these directors. I’ve been so fortunate to get all of these acting lessons and to help improve my craft over the years. So it’s been such a blessing at the end of the show.

What made you decide to get into acting in the first place? Is it something you always wanted to do? 
CV: The thing that I said when I was a little kid was, I wanted to be a theoretical astrophysicist in the area of nanotechnology because it was just the longest thing I could think of. I didn’t actually know what it meant at the time. I was just like, ‘This will impress the old people.’ I grew up in a small town about an hour and a half away from Toronto and I went to go see a play there. I was so immersed in it and I thought it was such a magical experience. And I asked my parents if I could try it out and act at the local theatre.

My first role ever as an actor was Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol. It just kind of grew from there. I did a couple of plays here in Toronto, and then I got an agent and auditioned. And I couldn’t have done anything without my mom because we live so far away from Toronto. She drove me back and forth to auditions together. She’s just as much a part of it as I am. But I think, maybe at 14, I actually started really committing to it and saying, ‘This is what I love. This is my passion. I want to do this for the rest of my life.’

You mentioned about learning your craft over the years. What have you learned? 
CV: What’s really helped me at being on sets all the time is just getting myself out there. It can be quite a nerve-wracking thing, being in front of a camera and being in front of a camera crew. So, I’m still working on getting those nerves down. But I think it’s also a good thing to have nerves because it means that you care about what you’re doing, you love what you’re doing. I also think that a lot of the times I obsess about the craft. When you’re doing a season, you could be three, four, five months working all day, every day. And then on the weekends you’re obsessed with what you’re doing and you’re constantly memorizing the lines and things like that. And then the season ends and you have a lull because you’re waiting for the next season and you’re waiting for your next project. I’ve had some great talks with some fellow actors about this. It’s really important to keep living your life and to not obsess about what the next thing is. And actors, their whole profession is based on drawing from your experiences. And you do have those lulls. You’ve got to go out with your friends and you’ve got to read some books and go out and watch some movies. So I’m getting better at just kind of putting it aside and using my onset experience and then also my offset experience to draw from.

We’ve really seen this character of John Brackenreid grow up, especially in Season 12. Here’s a guy who is coming into his own as a constable. And now he goes through this season, before even getting shot, his parents divorcing. 
CV: John has always been kind of this character, I think, that’s been on the brink of adulthood. He’s almost there. And this season especially because, before we’ve always seen John as this quintessentially innocent character. And then, all of a sudden, he has all this baggage. His parents and he may not walk again, he’s been sleeping around. It’s a John that we’ve never seen before. It’s great because everyone makes mistakes and has crazy days when they’re just growing up and they’re on the brink of adulthood. And John is really going through some stuff right now. And it’s been a pleasure to play that because I love all the crazy, messy things as an actor.

What was your reaction to the fact that John was going to be shot and maybe not walk again? Did Peter Mitchell pull you aside and say, ‘It’s OK, by the end of the episode you’re going to walk? Did they make you wait? How did that work?’
CV: Apparently, for quite a while, the writer’s room knew that I was going to get shot. And, a few of the crew knew that I was going to get shot. One day I made a joke about me getting shot. And everyone was just kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s funny.’ Even though all of them knew that that was actually going to happen in the season finale. So I think that was a pretty predetermined thing. But, yeah, Peter took me aside and he said, ‘This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to be fine, though, don’t worry about it.’ But I think he knew for a few seasons that he was going to do this.

It must be some of the easiest acting you’ve had to do. You got to lie down. You didn’t have to wear the uniform or anything.
CV: Yeah. For two episodes I had to sit down and lie down. [Laughs.]

A big part of John’s life this season has been the effect of seeing this family break up. How have you felt about seeing your onscreen parents split?
CV: I think it was a great little storyline from the writing perspective and from the perspective of the show. Because they’re both two characters that are very feisty and they’re very opinionated and I really hope that they pull this together. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next season. As a watcher of the show, I’m really hoping that they just come out of this stronger than ever and as a couple, together. It was crazy and it kind of felt a little bit out of body because you have these two fake parents, these two parents that I’ve had for six years. And then they’re going through this divorce and sometimes you catch yourself, you’re like, ‘Oh, this isn’t real.’ I’m really eager to see what happens in the next season.

What have you thought of Season 12 of Murdoch Mysteries? What would you like to see happen in Season 13? Let me know in the comments below!

You can stream past episodes of Murdoch Mysteries on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Talking Ruth Newsome with Siobhan Murphy

She plays perhaps the most talked-about recurring character in Murdoch Mysteries history. Siobhan Murphy made an immediate impact when she debuted as Ruth Newsome, sister of Roger and Rupert Newsome (Cyrus Lane) of the Mimico Newsomes.

As outrageous as her brothers, Ruth caught the eye of Constable Henry Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) and duo were married with much pomp earlier in Season 12. I spoke to Siobhan Murphy about the role, the clothes and how Ruth “waiting for me.”

I’ve been meaning to talk to you now for a couple of seasons, just because Ruth Newsome is such a fantastic character. I’m excited to talk to you and to really drill down and get to know how you got this role. 
Siobhan Murphy: I’m so excited to talk about Ruth. She’s one of the favorite characters I’ve ever gotten to play. I’m so glad that you enjoy her as well.

Let’s go back to the beginning. What’s the origin story? How did you get the role? Did you audition? 
SM: Murdoch has such a long storied history in Canadian TV. I auditioned several times for various roles throughout the years, which I think every actor has. You know, it’s sort of a rite of passage to get a Murdoch role. Then this was the role that I was waiting for, I guess, because they seemed to sort of see something in me. I can’t speculate from the producers’ point of view, but she was a wonderful mix of sort of funny and irreverent and snobby and posh and all these tropes that I felt very comfortable slipping into. I think it was just that I was waiting for Ruth. Ruth was waiting for me. That was the right fit. I auditioned in the very conventional fashion of going in the room and reading.

Did you hear her voice? Did you get her delivery? Did you understand who this woman was from the get go? Or was it something you had to kind of massage?
SM: For the audition itself, I felt like I had a sense of her. I felt like she was this sort of the poor little rich girl. You know, a bit of just a child who has never been told no and just grew into a woman. So I felt like I had her voice, even in terms of her tone, the way that she speaks in this sort of nondescript accent. My thought was that she’s been sent to a finishing school in England but didn’t really spend enough time in England, so she has one of these sort of strange accent. And I was lucky because, in the breakdown, they mentioned that she was the sister of an already established character, Cyrus’ character, Roger and Rupert, the Newsome twins. So I was able to look back on his episodes and sort of see the affectations he has brought to the voice and the melodic quality. Because there was a very specific Newsome way of speaking.

I was able to use that. Then once I got the part, I delved into the world of Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, just trying to find examples of poor little rich girls throughout cinema. She was sort of a good icon, in terms of just has never heard no and flounces around and leaves sort of an earthquake in her wake but comes out without a hair out of place. That was a bit of my research. And then just going back to the work that Cyrus had done because if I were to be brought in as part of his family and his world, I wanted to make sure the foundation he had laid was respected and further built upon.

The whole Newsome clan is a joy. It’s just incredible how everybody has really loved this family, which is, as I’m sure you know, pretty shocking and rare for this show. Many fans just want to see the core four and aren’t interested in anybody else.
SM: I knew going in. I was like, ‘OK, I know that I’m here for a bit of a comic relief sort or, you know, to alleviate some of the tension of the episodes.’ It’s not about me. I’ll bop in, I’ll bop out. Then I did Season 10 and then in Season 11, I got to do sort of more lovely stuff with Lachlan that was a little bit deeper and truer and not just sort of like ‘Oh, my heavens,’ and causing chaos. I wanted to be very respectful of the fans and loving the format of the show, and knowing they’re probably going to hate Ruth or some people are going to like her, but she’s not going to be for everyone and that’s OK. She’s a lot of noise, and she’s basically a hat that’s become a sentient being. She’s a lot. So won’t take it personally. I’m playing an unlikeable, over-the-top character.

I was really touched that people sort of were drawn to her and didn’t … I mean, I’m sure some people find her so irritating, and that’s also absolutely valid because she certainly is. Absolutely. It is such a testament to sort of the Newsome brand that Cyrus had created, that there was this opening in the fans’ hearts and minds for this other, weird offshoot of the otherwise quite deep and dark and twisty Murdoch world. So I was very grateful for their opening up to this wacky, weird offshoot.

Did that take a lot of time when you were doing the research into playing this character?
SM: I was classically trained at a theatre school in Ontario called York University. They put us through the rigors of you do your research but also you do your research on the voice and the body of the character. Thankfully, as we know, Murdoch gives us these incredible period costumes with the corset, with the padding. So I knew that that would inform so much of how she walked through the world. I knew that I wanted her voice to be established and her way of being, and she is sort of a flighty bird. This is going to sound very actory, but I sort of was looking at things like, as I said, Katharine Hepburn just was someone that I looked at, not because of her voice, which is quite mid-Atlantic, or her posture which at the time was quite sort of considered masculine because she took big steps.

What’s funny is that [Clare McConnell] who plays my cousin, Effie, in the wedding episode, studied Katharine Hepburn, and you can see it in her performance. Her character smokes and has a real sort of languid catlike way of stalking the set. So it was funny because I had thought of Katharine Hepburn, but in a totally different construct. I guess she’s an icon for a ton of actresses. But to go back to what I was saying in terms of actor work. Ruth just really also struck me, this is such an actory thing to say, so I do apologize, as a bit of a bird about to take flight.

You’re already mentioned the clothing, so let’s talk a little bit about the costumes. Joanna has said that it’s a joy to dress you. 
SM: It’s wild. Joanna, this is her first season working with all of us. Before that, the costumes were also incredible, and the hats were amazing. I mean, literally, when I say Ruth is a sentient hat, that’s how I felt when I first got to set. I was 90 percent hat, 10 percent woman. It was fabulous because you’re just like, ‘OK, great. So no matter what I do, the hat pulls the focus. It doesn’t matter if I’m bad. They’re focusing on the hat.’ But it was lovely. It made it sort of so easy to embody this fancy-dancy kind of woman with all these pieces to keep moving through space with.

In this season what’s been quite amazing is the colour, the brightness, and the intensity and the saturation that Joanna dresses Ruth in. And the accessories. She’s giving me parasols and purses and gloves and bracelets and necklaces, which of course you would think is an actor’s nightmare, but it’s fabulous because there’s always a joke in the parasol and there’s something to do with the gloves. She gives me props even in wardrobe, which Ruth would have and is a delight. And the colour, I think, is so lovely because in this season, in the last season, as Ruth is now engaged and all the wedding stuff, the brightness and the joy and the … she’s like a tropical bird in a lot of ways.

I think the high point so far was the Kellogg outfit.
SM: She sent me a photo of the piece. She’s like, ‘I made this.’ First of all, I was like, ‘You’re a goddess and a genius.’ Second, I haven’t read the script yet. What’s happening? ‘Oh, you’re the inspiration for the Kellogg Cornflake rooster.’ I’m like, ‘I’m the bird I’ve always dreamed I’d be. It’s perfect.’ That was a real showstopper when I walked onto set, which is … what a piece! It was truly something to behold. Also, at this point, Ruth is terribly broke. Which is just a testament to the trunk she must have hauled with her from Henry’s apartment.

The other interesting thing about Ruth is evolution of the character, is that kind of comic relief in the beginning but now she’s being involved in storylines in a way that has become more akin to what we’ve seen with Crabtree. Inspiring Kellogg and the knowledge that she wrote these saucy books that Julia has read.
SM: You know, you never want to imbue your character or assume a character is dumb, right? Because you can’t play dumb. That’s not how she was written, but she was written as a bit sort of flighty. I just was like, ‘I can’t wrap my head around that. It’s not that she’s flighty. It’s that she’s distracted.’ So if she’s constantly distracted, what is she distracted by? I didn’t know. I’m not going to pretend that I knew the answer because that would be insane. She’s just got a million things on her mind. They might be small, minute things like where did she leave her gloves or did the servant remember to draw me a bath or all these different things. The first inkling I got of Ruth’s, or what the writers knew of Ruth’s, inner world was in the Christmas episode that Peter Mitchell had written.

There’s this whole turn that happens in the scene where we’re going to take down Ponzi. Suddenly Ruth is swilling whiskey and being like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s typical.’ You realize, wait. I remember talking to Lachlan about it. We would talk sort of in between scenes. I was like, ‘Do you think Ruth is actually from one of these families that started as a gangster family and then maybe made right in the world?’ So this generation of kids went to finishing school, but they really come from generations and generations of criminals.

Of course she’s good at conversation, which is now why she’s sort of a nurse’s aide or a conversationalist in a nurse’s outfit at the hospital. So the fact that she has all these other sort of bizarre lives makes complete sense because it’s not that she’s dumb. It’s just that she’s got so many things on her mind.

Murdoch Mysteries‘ Season 12 finale airs Monday at 8 p.m. on CBC and streams on CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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