Tag Archives: Laurie Lynd

Preview: Murdoch Mysteries offers up pitch-perfect musical episode

“After 20 years, 17 seasons and 290 episodes, Murdoch Mysteries has finally done it… A musical episode!”

So said the email sent by CBC earlier this week, trumpeting the show’s musical interlude coming up on March 25. Murdoch Mysteries is certainly not the first TV series to do it; the popularity of the musical episode is largely attributed to Buffy the Vampire Slayer instalment, “Once More, With Feeling,” on November 6, 2001. Since then, many shows have done them, with mixed results. Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Fringe, Ally McBeal, The Flash, Scrubs and fellow CBC hit Schitt’s Creek have all dipped into the trope.

Now it’s Murdoch Mysteries‘ turn with “Why Is Everybody Singing?” Written by Paul Aitken and directed by Laurie Lynd, here is the synopsis for the March 25 episode:

While pursuing a missing man now presumed dead, Murdoch takes a call that alters his perception of the world. After heading into a lively alley, he’s shot in the head and left for dead. Crabtree and Higgins find him with the faintest pulse clinging to life. As Brackenreid, Ogden, Watts and Hart rush to the scene and the constables question a newsboy, beggar, vendors and other witnesses, Murdoch hears their inquiries in song. The musical accounts swoop and soar, confounding the detective who can’t understand why everyone around him is singing instead of focusing on who shot him.

According to writer and executive producer Aitken, the seed for a musical mystery was planted by Buffy and has been gestating ever since.

“The challenge was to do it as a genuine mystery,” Aitken says in media materials provided by CBC. “The essential concept: A comatose Murdoch needs to determine who tried to kill him was strong and allowed for all manner of philosophical hijinks, but it was insufficient. The music itself needed to be a clue. Having the singing be his injured brain’s way of processing what was actually being said over his bed solved two problems. It made the music an integral feature of the plot and allowed for the introduction of new information—always handy when telling a mystery.”

The fun begins right out of the gate, with the Murdoch Mysteries theme with a phalanx of voices performing Robert Carli’s unmistakable composition set against a movie screen in a vintage theatre. Then it’s on the case that puts Murdoch into the dire straits he finds himself in: that of a missing man. I should say that eagle-eyed viewers will catch a familiar name in the opening credits that ruins a surprise later in the story, but that’s a minor quibble.

It doesn’t take long for the singing to start—prefaced by a vibrant soundtrack—and director Lynd’s wonderful work lights up the streets of Toronto.

“The script that Paul Aitken wrote is so clever because it is still at heart a classic Murdoch episode, a puzzling case to be solved that is not at all what it first appears to be,” Lynd says. “The great joy of the episode, of course, is seeing—and hearing!—our favourite Murdoch characters sing. All of the cast did their own singing, beautifully elevating the emotions of what their characters were expressing.

It certainly is fun to hear the main cast belting out lyrics by Aitken (Higgins’ and Margaret’s in particular, are hilarious) and produced and arranged by Jono Grant. Highlighted by guest cast in Sharron Matthews (Frankie Drake Mysteries), Hélène Joy, Arwen Humphreys and Thomas Craig, the performances make sense and add a unique way of storytelling.

But, at its heart is the mystery, which is always going to be the core of the veteran drama that shows no signs of slowing down.

“Preserving the integrity of the show has always been super important to me, so when there was talk of doing a musical episode, it was no secret that I had reservations,” Bisson says. “Having Paul Aitken, our writer, as an ally for so many years and having been in the musical trenches before with Laurie as a director, I felt confident to proceed. All my worrying was for nothing though—the end result is nothing short of spectacular!”

We agree.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.