From a media release:
Ring in the holidays with the world premiere of “A Merry Murdoch Christmas,” the first-ever MURDOCH MYSTERIES holiday special, airing Monday, December 21 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC-TV. When a philanthropist is found dead before the holidays and the presents he distributes to Toronto’s orphans go missing, it’s up to Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), Ogden (Hélène Joy) and the team at Station No. 4 to solve the mystery and save Christmas. Guest stars include Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey, Spotless), Kelly Rowan (Perception, The O.C.), Peter Mansbridge (The National) and film and television legend Ed Asner (Up, Elf, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) as a man who believes he’s Santa Claus. Produced by Shaftesbury, written by MURDOCH MYSTERIESexecutive producer and showrunner Peter Mitchell and directed by Michael McGowan (Between, Still Mine), the special is currently being filmed on location in Ontario until early November.
On a snowy night before Christmas, Murdoch and Ogden are attending a party at the McGowan mansion with Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), his wife Margaret (Arwen Humphreys) and Constables Crabtree (Jonny Harris) and Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch). The evening’s guests, who include orphans and patients from the Hospital for Sick Children, are being treated to a production of The Little Match Girl featuring a young Mary Pickford (Peyton Kennedy) in the title role. But for the children the real treat is when Mr. Rankin (Brendan Coyle) and hostess Mrs. Millicent McGowan (Kelly Rowan) introduce their special guest, St. Nick. Unfortunately, when the curtain lifts to reveal Alister McGowan, the philanthropist host in a Santa suit, he’s lifeless and the generously donated gifts for the needy children have been stolen.
As Murdoch investigates McGowan’s murder, he learns the local business tycoon was avowed enemies with his former partner Cyrus Lynch. The Toronto Constabulary is unable to locate their prime suspect, but has little difficulty finding the missing booty, which is being handed out on the street by a man claiming to be the real St. Nick (Ed Asner). Despite the protestations of his helper, Mary Pickford, they arrest him.
For Brackenreid, the crime brings up sour memories of childhood Christmas disappointments, leading him to admonish Constable Jackson (Kristian Bruun) for putting up holiday decorations in the stationhouse. Meanwhile,Crabtree is sullen when his own plans go awry and it appears he will be alone for the holidays. But when nefarious forces intent on tarnishing the spirit and goodwill of the season suddenly appear, Murdoch realizes that in addition to solving a terrible crime, he must also save Christmas.