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Murdoch Mysteries: Writer Noelle Girard reveals the inspiration behind Monday’s murder

Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading until you have watched the latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Drowning in Money.”

For a few seasons of Murdoch Mysteries, I thought Mary Pedersen had the most twisted mind in the writers’ room. After all, she aimed to make viewers cry in Season 11’s “The Accident.” But Pedersen has some competition in Noelle Girard, who penned Monday’s latest. The morbid tale of a daughter who poisoned her parents to protect her sibling from mistreatment was downright dark. And, at first glance, seemed in part to be inspired by the real-life deaths of Toronto couple Barry and Honey Sherman.

I spoke to Girard to get the scoop on her storyline.

Watching this episode, I wondered if it was inspired by the recent case of Barry and Honey Sherman. Was your episode ripped from the headlines?
Noelle Girard: That definitely did come up in our many talks about this episode, but it really wasn’t the genesis of it.

What was the genesis of it?
NG: I was reading about Consuelo Vanderbilt, who was the daughter of the Vanderbilt family. This family had immense wealth but her mother, Alva, really craved social standing and a title. It was kind of what money couldn’t buy. She raised her daughter, Consuelo, to marry a duke. I was reading that she was kept locked in her room, would bring in all of these tutors for her and would make her wear this brace to give her perfect posture. She was trying to engineer the perfect woman to marry a duke. Consuelo did marry a duke when she was 18 and she was miserable.

I came to the room saying, ‘I just read about this really interesting woman.’ We were talking about Consuelo and Peter [Mitchell] let me run with some macabre ideas. ‘What if there was a young woman who was being bred to be the perfect woman and she got her revenge on her parents?’ That’s kind of how it started. The Shermans did come up, but it was really centred on the daughter. As we were fleshing out the story, we wondered if the daughter would make the parents’ murder look like a suicide.

I feel like you and Mary Pedersen are competing for twisted ideas. It takes a lot of research to learn scorpion venom is the most expensive poison.
NG: [Laughs.] I just happened to read that scorpion venom is classified as the most expensive liquid in the world. Again, it was me coming into the room and saying, ‘Hey, what if she used scorpion venom? She would use the most expensive thing to kill her parents.’ Pete was like, ‘Great, do it!’

Diana Seymour saying nothing but the best for her parents when referring to the poison was chilling. The actress who played her, Erica Anderson, did a wonderful job.
NG: The actors were great. Joanna, our costume designer, was so great. She really tried to work with one colour palette. We talked about the perfect lady and what they would wear. It was kind of Picnic at Hanging Rock-ish with a lot of whites and making them look virginal and innocent when, really, they were murderers.

I love finding out those little bit of information regarding wardrobe or set pieces.
NG: Everyone who works on the show is at the top of their game and are great people. As soon as they get the script, everyone runs with it and makes it much better than what I envision.

This episode featured another Newsome in Effie. We did meet her in the wedding episode; this time she had a more meaty role when she represented a cousin who was trying to sue George’s garage.
NG: In the wedding episode we wanted to show that Crabtree is still smarting from Nina leaving for Paris. He doesn’t want to date anyone. We had him with a few women at the wedding but we just loved Clare McConnell. We just thought, ‘What if we bring her back and they still have this antagonistic relationship but there is a glimmer of Crabtree being interested in her and she in him?’ We just had fun with that.

You had a lot of characters to juggle in this episode.
NG: I kind of got carried away. I handed in the first draft to Pete and said, ‘I know I just wrote a million characters in a million different locations. I understand if they get winnowed down.’ But he just let me have all my characters.

The final scene, where Persephone was being taken away and Diana was behind bars, was tragic and very emotional.
NG: When we talked about ways to take the story we thought about not having the girls be on each other’s side and how that story would look. But I really liked the idea of the two sisters looking out for each other. Obviously committing murder is terrible but they’re trying to look out for each other.

Next Monday, Nov. 19, Murdoch Mysteries is pre-empted due to the Scotiabank Giller Prize awards.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries digs for diamonds

Diamonds and race horses and gardens, oh my! Whenever I see an image of Wendy Crewson dressed in Nora’s finery I know we’re going to be in for a treat. Frankie Drake Mysteries is jam-packed with great characters, and Nora’s swagger takes it to another level. Plus, her constant back and forth with Frankie leaves me in stitches. Nora appears in Monday’s new episode; here’s what the CBC has revealed about “Diamonds are a Gal’s Best Friend,” written by Carol Hay and directed by Peter Stebbings:

What starts as a simple case of a missing horse leads the team into the gardens of Toronto’s elite in pursuit of a murderous jewel thief.

And, as always, more tidbits from me after watching a screener.

Anastasia Phillips guest-stars
Phillips (above) most recently appeared on Reign and Grey’s Anatomy, but I’ll always remember her in two of the creepiest episodes of Murdoch Mysteries ever. Phillips portrayed Charlotte in “Me, Myself and Murdoch” and “The Incurables.” Anyway, she drops by Frankie Drake Mysteries as Camille, the daughter of the farmer whose horse has gone missing. The delicate case calls for Nora to help. Keep an eye out for Cliff Saunders as the farmer,  Christopher Morris as Count Johan, James Graham as Hank and Laurie Murdoch (Lachlan’s dad) as the hotel manager.

Frankie and Trudy visit the wilds north of Lawrence Ave.
I live, no joke, a five-minute walk from Lawrence Avenue. That made the moment Frankie remarked it’s not often cases take them that far such a hoot. Even better? She and Trudy are on a country road, surrounded by fields of corn, and drive by a sign marked “Forest Hill coming soon.” The times have certainly changed.

Flo has eyes for…
I won’t ruin the storyline. But it’s hilarious. Speaking of Flo, I’m hoping she’s able to break free of the city coroner. I’m tired of her being hemmed in by him and looked down upon. Give Flo her own business!

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Season 3 of Frontier, Discovery’s original dramatic adventure series, premiering Dec. 7

From a media release:

In a ferocious and unforgiving world of greed, deception, and harsh climates, the transatlantic battle to control the North American fur trade rages on as Discovery Canada’s original dramatic adventure series FRONTIER catapults into an action-filled third season with back-to-back episodes airing Fridays at 10 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET beginning Dec. 7.

Set in the late 18th century, with multiple plotlines unfolding from the offices of London to the Canadian wilderness, the drama is turned up higher than ever in FRONTIER’s new six-part season. Season 3 welcomes new players and new unlikely alliances who enter this merciless game in the pursuit for power and wealth – pushing each character to embrace new alliances or arm themselves against one another.

Seasons 1 and 2 of FRONTIER are now available to catch-up for free on Discovery.ca and the Discovery app. Following each television broadcast, episodes of FRONTIER are available for streaming on the Discovery app. All three seasons of the series will be streamed around the world via international broadcast partner Netflix.

FRONTIER’s talented ensemble cast is led by series star Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Justice League, GAME OF THRONES) alongside Landon Liboiron (HEMLOCK GROVE, DEGRASSI), Alun Armstrong (NEW TRICKS, Braveheart), Zoe Boyle (DOWNTON ABBEY, SONS OF ANARCHY), Jessica Matten (A Red Girl’s Reasoning), Allan Hawco (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, CAUGHT), Michael Patric (ARROW, SUPERNATURAL), and Greg Bryk (THE HANDMAID’S TALE, WYNONNA EARP).

The consequences of the bold Black Wolf Company heist on Fort James have come with swift and vicious ferocity, and from the highest offices in London. FRONTIER Season 3 sees the agents of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) violently cracking down on everyone, from Montréal to the wilderness, but the business of the Black Wolf couldn’t be further from Declan Harp’s (Momoa) mind. After Lord Benton (Armstrong) abducted Grace Emberly (Boyle) and set sail from James Bay, Harp set out on a treacherous rescue mission to get her back, which takes him far from the frontier.

After the successful heist of the HBC in Fort James, Michael Smyth (Liboiron) sets out to reassemble the Black Wolf Company – or what’s left of it. But the fallout is swift and furious, and the HBC crackdown has many feeling that Smyth’s head should end up on someone’s platter. Refusing to let his newfound infamy be his downfall, Smyth instead uses it as a sales pitch, stopping at nothing to seek out new alliances and build a team that can finally rival the might of the HBC. But when Smyth learns one of his new partners has a dark side business which challenges his humanity, it pushes him into a decision that could make all his risky work go up in flames.

Sokanon’s (Matten) break from the Black Wolf in the wake of Wahush’s death has her rejecting the trade in favour of protecting her people, especially Indigenous women who are being bought and sold around James Bay. As the ale house brothel in Fort James is a way station for some of them, Sokanon enlists the help of Mary (Breanne Hill) to outwit Imogen (Diana Bentley). But clever power player Imogen is always a half-step ahead, putting Sokanon and Mary in a terrifying battle for their lives.

In Montréal, a brutal shakedown by the HBC leaves the businesses of fierce competitors Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and the Brown Brothers in shambles. Josephette DaCosta (Karen LeBlanc) fears that Douglas Brown’s (Hawco) emotions will run Carruthers & Co. into the ground and employs Malcolm (Patric) in a deception to try and save the company. The stress and anger forces Grant to leave the city for a time, leaving Cobbs Pond (Bryk), to keep the business intact, by any means necessary. While the men are away, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter Follows) connects with someone outside the confines of the Grant household in a risky relationship that could be her undoing.

FRONTIER is co-created by Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie, and produced by Take The Shot Productions and ASAP Entertainment, in association with Discovery, the exclusive Canadian broadcaster. Netflix is the international broadcast partner.

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Comments and queries for the week of November 9

I thought Daniel [Maslany] was brilliant in this episode [of Murdoch Mysteries]. When he first started on the show I thought he was obnoxious. The seasons have passed and the backstory of Watts’s life have filled in, a sister, two brothers and finding out that his religion is Judaism. He has adjusted so well. The notebook is gone (I think), he has friendships and support in the station. I agree with him about his way of preparing for the show, give him time with the script. Let him find his way with it. Congratulations to everyone on a spectacular show, one of my favourites. —Jan

The episode was brilliant and the performance given by Daniel Maslany was exceptional. Definitely CSA-worthy. —Fatima

This was a great episode, and bravo to Daniel Maslany! —Lloyd

He was absolutely stellar in this episode. His non-verbals were superb and quite instrumental in fleshing out both the character and the experience. The continuation of both is why this is my No. 1 television watching choice. —Ingrid

Maslany has been a wonderful addition to this show; when he first appeared, I thought that maybe he was slightly Aspergers-like, with his high intelligence but lack of social skills and filter. So, kind of endearingly quirky, for sure, and very Colombo-like. Hope he’s included in many more episodes to come. This was a good one—I figured I knew who the murderer was from the outset, but the twists and turns as the episode progressed made me doubt myself, thanks to the convincing acting by Maslany—good job! —D Mac

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

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Link: Q&A with Gerry Dee on the finale season of Mr. D

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: Q&A with Gerry Dee on the finale season of Mr. D
“We ended season seven in a way that we handcuffed ourselves a bit. That could have been the last episode, right? When we decided to come back for one more, our conversation with CBC we had to get creative. How does Gerry get back? There’s the easy way where it’s a bad dream and it wasn’t true but we wanted to think of something that was a little more clever so we think that we have done that with this.” Continue reading.

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