Tag Archives: Dan Trotta

Murdoch Mysteries: Writer Dan Trotta dissects “Pirates of the Great Lakes”

Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading until you have watched the newest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Pirates of the Great Lakes.”

Alas, it doesn’t appear that Thomas Brackenreid and his wife, Margaret, will be reuniting anytime soon. Crushed upon learning he has a daughter from a past relationship, Margaret asked him to leave their home and returned her wedding band to him.

And while there was a crime committed in Monday’s episode, it almost took a back seat to the torment Thomas is going through. What’s next for the Inspector? We spoke to writer Dan Trotta to find out.

It’s been an interesting journey for Thomas Brackenreid. He’s one of those characters where when something happens, it tends to be big. This season has been no different. Do you like being able to write for these secondary characters? Obviously William and Julia, to a certain extent, are always going to be top in mind, but what about writing for characters that don’t always get these meaty storylines, like Thomas Brackenreid?
Dan Trotta: I do, personally, yeah. I think there’s, in a weird way, it feels like there’s a little more wiggle room, if that makes sense? I think there’s certain expectations we have as viewers and, I’m speaking generally even as a fan of TV shows, the main characters are often … we really do expect certain things from them. And I think there’s a more sort of rigid box that people put their main characters in, whereas secondary characters you can sort of … they’re a little more malleable. You can kinda play around with them a bit more. You can put them in situations you might not normally find them in.

And there’s just a bit more leeway with sort of where you can take them. And Brackenreid is definitely one of those guys. Particularly because the character sort of lends himself to more kind of intense experiences just because he’s kind of this brash tough guy.

So to find out that he’s done something as surprising as fathering another child, while it’s shocking, I think it’s still within the realm of believability. Whereas if the information ever came out that Murdoch had done that, in the same way, it would just be less believable.

Let’s talk about William’s latest invention. We’ve got the combination washing machine and outboard motor. Congratulations!
DT: Thank you, thank you. Yes, it’s quite an achievement. Yeah, we’re all very proud.

Is that kind of a fun notch in your belt, to write an episode that has one of William’s inventions in it and then get to work with Craig Grant on … Well I don’t know, how much do you work with Craig on something or does he just do it all himself?
DT: It’s really sort of a question of, what’s possible? Well like, this thing went through a few iterations. Initially it was like a lawnmower and then it was a bunch of different things. And then it was like, well that wouldn’t really make sense. It wouldn’t be able to power an boat. And it wouldn’t be big enough. And then, so you sort of have that conversation with Craig.

Craig is definitely there to run stuff by and just to sort of figure out what’s actually possible. And to answer the first part of your question, it’s fun. I’ve always loved that Steampunk aspect of the show. So yeah, it’s really exciting. And then to go down to the props department and see it get put together, the drawings and stuff, it’s a blast. It’s a lot of fun.

How far in advance did you know a sailboat would be involved in this storyline?
DT: Knowing that we needed a ship came up pretty early. I mean, once we had figured out that we were gonna do an episode with Dan Seavey, who is an actual character, an actual historical figure. Once we knew it was a pirate episode, it was sort of a no-brainer that we’d have a ship, I think. So, then the conversation becomes, well how big? And where? And what’s it gonna do?

[Episode director] Leslie [Hope] and I sort of got together. I hadn’t seen the ship, but she had, and she gave me the specs of it. The size of it and what we could and couldn’t do and how many people could actually be on there. That was really tricky. It’s like Pete sort of had to step in and help out because we were struggling a little bit because there was a space issue. We wanted a bunch of guys on there, you can only have a few. Just the mechanics of it became tricky. So I would say more than anything, actually, that was the thing … that was the trickiest sort of ship related bit of business.

Dan Seavey was a real guy. I didn’t realize that.
At the beginning that was a big part of the research process is just figuring out what happened that particular year. I had found him in my sort of Googling rabbit holes and never would’ve imagined that there was a pirate on the Great Lakes. I never would’ve imagined it. But it popped up and from there it was just a question of how to use him. We couldn’t make him quite as vicious as he actually was. I mean, this guy was a murderer. Straight up savage. He was pretty bad, actually. But you know, also very charismatic and there were a lot of colorful stories about him, so we sort of stuck to the lighter stuff.

Let’s finish with Thomas and Margaret. Obviously everybody wants to see these two together, and I’m not asking you to spoil anything, but I’m assuming this isn’t the type of thing that’s gonna be wrapped up neatly by next week’s episode.
DT: I would say, keep tuning in. I mean, there’s a real relationship there, I think. She’s clearly been hurt and he … I think this is a guy who has to fight through his pride. We’ve all seen hubris in this character, but I think there is a fundamental trust that at the core, that this is a good man, who obviously loves his wife and his family. That said, I mean, anything can happen.

Maybe I should just say it? I mean, Thomas gets pregnant at the end of the season. [Laughs.] Keep watching is what I would say to the fans.

What did you think of this newest episode? Did you Google Dan Seavey like I did? Do you think Margaret should forgive Thomas? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries sets sail

Happy New Year Murdoch Mysteries fans! If you’re like me, much of the break after the last new episode of Season 12, “Secrets and Lies,” has been spent wondering.

How would the huge revelation that Thomas has a daughter affect his relationship with Margaret? By the close of “Secrets and Lies,” she had asked him to leave the house, throwing the future of their marriage up in the air. This week, Episode 10 catches up with our favourite crime fighters in the cheekily-titled “Pirates of the Great Lakes.” Here’s what the CBC has revealed as the official synopsis for it:

As Murdoch helps an Italian detective recover a shipload of stolen antiquities, Brackenreid considers shipping out.

And, as usual, here a few more tidbits after watching a screener of the instalment, written by Dan Trotta and directed by Leslie Hope.

Murdoch unveils another invention
This one, like the robotic vacuum cleaner, is designed for home use. William has found it necessary to build a contraption because Julia is plotting social events at the house.

History recalled
As has become the norm with Murdoch Mysteries, the show references a real-world event as part of its storytelling. In this case, it’s the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The investigation also calls for Crabtree to go undercover, which is always a good time.

Guest stars aplenty
Paolo Mancini—playing the wonderfully energetic and passionate Italian detective Flavio Pupazzi—Jeremy Raymond, Hugh Thompson and Craig Brown (a familiar face on Murdoch Mysteries as Eddie Crawford) all get some screen time on Monday night.

Thomas and Margaret
I wish I could say that things are looking up for the Inspector and Mrs. Brackenreid, but when we catch up with his on Monday things don’t look good for any type of reunion.

Ruth and Higgins
They’re together and you know what that means. Laughs, especially when Ruth decides she wants to help her dear husband pay the bills.

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

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Murdoch Mysteries: Writer Dan Trotta discusses Julia’s news and Higgins’ growth

Spoiler Alert! Do not read this interview until you have watched the Season 11 episode entitled “Biffers and Blockers.”

So many fans have told me how much they’ve enjoyed Season 11 of Murdoch Mysteries. I agree. The writer’s room has hit a grand slam with regard to storylines, taking our favourite characters in bold new directions while keeping the core intact. That’s difficult to do, and yet showrunner Peter Mitchell and his crew make it seem easy.

Monday’s newest instalment, “Biffers and Blockers,” was memorable for several reasons. At long last, Julia said the words William and Murdoch Mysteries fans have been waiting for: she is pregnant. Secondly, the series was able to bring a beloved character back from the dead (sort of) by introducing us to Dr. Rupert Newsome (Cyrus Lane), identical twin brother of the late Roger Newsome. And third, with Constable Crabtree off in Paris, Higgins stepped forward and got some major airtime not only with regard to the murder of a cricket player but his social life with Ruth Newsome as well.

We spoke to the episode’s writer, Dan Trotta, about everything that went down.

I was thrilled to see Cyrus Lane return to the show as Dr. Rupert Newsome. How did the idea to have Cyrus come back as a twin come about?
Dan Trotta: Everyone in the room loved the character and everyone loved working with the actor. I didn’t have a whole lot to do with that decision. The character of Roger was just so fun to write for. There were a couple of pictures of him in the writer’s room. I know Jordan Christianson was a big fan. So, the class system was a big part of the episode and it made sense to have him as part of it. And the trick then was how to distinguish the brothers, and that was a fun part of it.

Cyrus Lane brings a lot to the role and has really created something special.
That guy is a fantastic actor. It’s the first time that I’ve worked with him. Comedy, I find in my limited experience, can be tricky especially when you really try to bring the funny. First, it’s on the page in the script. But, there is a security and a confidence that he has in his ability that makes him hilarious. What I noticed in the read-through is that his timing is fantastic. And he does seem to give the other actors a lot of space. He has a ton of charisma but doesn’t take over a scene, although I totally think he could easily if he wanted to. I was really looking forward to those scenes and seeing how they’d pop with him in them.

The return of a Newsome wasn’t even the biggest news of the episode. That was reserved for Julia revealing she is pregnant. How did it feel to have your name on this script and include this huge moment?
I was totally surprised that I was allowed to do this. It was an honour and a real responsibility. And I felt a responsibility to get it right because I know just how important it is to people. We’re seeing these characters in a situation we’ve never seen them before, really. So there was kind of a freedom in that. The old rules didn’t really apply, in a way, but you also want to honour the truth of these characters. I was kind of floored and it wasn’t even a really huge discussion. It was just kind of like, ‘Dan, this [episode] is yours.’ The way it all unfolded was certainly something we talked about but I’ve been consistently flattered by how much trust that Pete and the room have had in me.

A pivotal moment like this is usually saved for a season finale. Any comment? We’re only on Episode 11, so something big must happen in the season finale.
[Laughs.]

Now, just because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean she’ll carry the baby to term, right?
I suppose that’s a possibility, Greg.

You mentioned that class is a big part of this storyline. We got to see Higgins outside of the office, with Ruth, and you fleshed out more of that character. It must have been fun to do that with Lachlan Murdoch.
Honestly, he is such a blast to write for. To me, he is one of the funniest characters on the show and I thought that before I even started. And I thought it was hilarious to have this clash that he was going through. He slipped into that world so naturally. There is an element of British humour to it and an obliviousness to this character that I have always found fall-over funny. That, to me, was really what was so fun about it. Writing for clueless characters is just a blast. It’s the best.

It was neat to see him clearly besotted with Ruth and, at this point anyway, keep the worlds apart and not speak down to the lads in Station House No. 4.
So far, yes. [Laughs.] I think that’s in its infancy.

Did you know anything about cricket before writing this episode?
Dude, nothing. Nothing at all. That was a tricky part. The thing that lends itself to cricket is the clash and class distinction. I was writing and I would leave something like a strikeout blank and then go back and research the actual word. Instead of batter it’s batsmen. [Laughs.] It was a bit of a process. And, to be quite honest, I’m still not sure I know exactly how it works. I read your preview and I had the same questions you did. I still not sure what a match can last more than a day. I still don’t get that.

Where were the cricket scenes filmed?
Oh man, that was Shanty Bay. It was stunning. [Attention history buffs: the cricket scenes were, according to this website, the summer estate of Titanic survivor Lt. Col. Arthur Peuchen.] We got these two perfectly clear, gorgeous days to film. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of real estate I’ve ever seen.

What did you think of the episode? Are you happy for Julia? Let me know in the comments below!

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

 

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