Tag Archives: Murdoch Mysteries

Preview: Murdoch Mysteries digs into William’s painful past

It’s hard to believe that, with almost 12 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries under our belts, there are still things to learn about Detective William Murdoch. And yet, that’s exactly what happens in Monday’s upcoming episode.

Here’s what the CBC has revealed as the main storyline for “Six of the Best,” written by Lori Spring and directed by Sherren Lee.

Murdoch’s distressing childhood memories are evoked while investigating the death of an orphan under the care of the same Jesuit priest who taught him.

And here are more details I picked up on while watching a screener.

Classic Murdoch Mysteries
I don’t know how to explain it, but the opening moments of “Six of the Best” felt like Season 2 of the show. Maybe it’s the cinematography, the fact it’s written by Lori Spring or the intense sorrow of the moment—I’m not sure—but I got that vibe. Let me know if you do too. By the way, Yannick Bisson’s performance is truly wonderful. It’s not often that we see William display true anger and rage and we get both from Mr. Bisson on Monday night.

Violet Hart is back
It’s good to see her at the crime scene, aiding Murdoch and Watts in their quest for the truth. So far, we haven’t gotten any hint as to what Violet was plotting for the morgue at the end of Season 11. Perhaps some light will be shed this week? As for other actors dropping by, look for David Ferry, Craig Lauzon and Mike Taylor in supporting roles. It’s Ferry’s character who has the connection to William; they were both at the Nova Scotia Jesuit School for Boys. William isn’t the only one who recalls his past; Watts remembers his own childhood while aiding in the investigation.

Julia is frustrated
The good news that she and William have landed a publishing deal to write a comprehensive police handbook has been tempered somewhat by the thing writers fear most.

Ruth has a job
After accepting a position at the hospital, I had my fingers crossed we’d see Ruth on the ward. We do. And it’s amazing. Congratulations, once again, to costume designer Joanna Syrokomla for doing a spectacular job creating the clothes for these folks. Ruth in her uniform is a sight to behold.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Paul Aitken talks “Annabella Cinderella”

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Annabella Cinderella.”

Well, that as quite the road trip for Constables John Brackenreid, George Crabtree and Detective Watts, wasn’t it? I always get a kick out of road trip episodes and this one was a lot of fun, even with an accused axe murderer at the centre of the story. With Inspector Brackenreid gone from our lives for now and Julia and William back on Toronto planning to write a police handbook containing the latest forensic sciences available, it was up to the trio to collar Annabella and investigate the truth behind her case.

We caught up with the episode’s writer, executive producer Paul Aitken, for details.

It’s been a great season so far.
Paul Aitken: Yeah, I think it’s been good. I’m curious to see how it all turns out. I know how the stories turn out, but I haven’t seen it in frame.

Oh really? Is that common?
PA: It’s common for me because once we get past a certain point in the story, I like to just see it in its whole.

We’ve seen a little dip into Watt’s past, and certainly a lot more into Brackenreid’s past. As somebody that’s been with the show from the very beginning, what’s it like to dip into these back stories and find out a little bit more about these characters as we’ve been going along this season?
PA: Oh I think it’s a really useful well to dip into because you can get story ideas out of the past that you can’t if you just are going forward. There’s something you can use that’s interesting, and you can build a story around it, and it also deepens the character. I think it’s fun for the audience because they get to see and come to understand the characters in a way that they wouldn’t have in the past, and it’s also just a really useful story tool.

The story getting a peek into Watts’s history was fantastic, emotional. Daniel Maslany did a wonderful job.
PA: I thought so too. I thought that worked really well. We didn’t know Watts very well, and I think he was a bit of a mystery, and I think this grounded him. It picked up on story elements we introduced in earlier episodes. But I think it’s true with any character, if you can pull something out of the past, it’s fun to watch and it’s fun to write.

Let’s get into tonight’s episode. I immediately thought of Lizzie Borden. Was that an inspiration at all? 
PA: No, actually, it wasn’t, not at all. We came to the idea of the axe because we wanted her to be dangerous. It’s more fun if your quarry is someone who could kill you. And it also made her dangerous. You want to buy that this character could be nice and flirting with John, but at the same point would drive an axe into his back if necessary. And I think the mother aspect of it, because Lizzie killed her parents, that was a plot that seemed to work best. So first came mother, then came the axe. And Lizzie Borden wasn’t just an afterthought. We did think of referencing it, but I’d already referenced Lizzie Borden in an earlier episode in Season 3. We’ve had several women wielding axes on the show, and we can’t reference Lizzie Borden every time. But yeah, there are a lot of parallels. She killed her mother, there was someone coming into the house at the time, someone running out of the house. I can’t remember exactly what happened with Lizzie Borden, but yes. Obviously, I can see why you would think that.

It’s been nice to see Charles Vandervaart get more screen time, and clearly, you were able to touch a little bit into the fame that goes behind supposed serial killers or just killers at large, this fascination that he had with her was pretty great.
PA: I thought so, too. We’ve been trying to make this an episode for a while. And I always pictured it as the person that they are escorting to justice, and then they escape. I always thought of that person as a man. It’s kind of like, what’s that movie with Jack Nicholson back in the early 70s? He was escorting a sailor to be incarcerated. [Editor’s Note: The Last Detail.] I always wanted to make an episode like that, and so that was how it started out and then we realized that it was actually a lot more interesting if the protagonist was a female that John Brackenreid had a crush, and we could play that flirty angle. So that’s how that came about.

I did want to ask about William and Julia. There are a lot of fans out there that always want to see the two of them front and centre every episode, and in this one, they certainly weren’t. They weren’t a major part of the story, although they did have their own fun kind of storyline. Is it nice to have them in the background and not be having them do the heavy lifting? 
PA: As regards to heavy lifting, I think it’s always good if you can give your main actors a bit of a break, because so much is demanded of them, just on a humanitarian crowd I think it’s a good idea. And in terms of the story, in terms of what the audience wants, yeah, they want to see the main guys, but it’s also kind of fun and challenging for an audience to not be able to see the main guys in the main role all the time, to see someone else step up. I think it’s kind of fun to be able to do that. And I know that the audience, I think, will sort of just go along with it. Murdoch will be back next episode, there’s no danger about it, and I think it’s unusual to have Murdoch not be involved in any way in the actual mystery except at the very beginning and the very end.

Will their storyline continue? The publishing storyline? Or is that kind of a one-off?
PA: We’ll see where it goes.

What can you say about Margaret and Thomas going forward as we get closer to the end of this season?
PA: I think, obviously that will be when the season goes along, but it’s a season long story. And I think it’s a really good story. I think it resolves, or doesn’t resolve, I think, where it goes, how it goes is actually really interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing it myself.

What did you think of this episode? Are you excited to see where Julia and William’s writing careers go? 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 carries on with an axe murderer

I think this season of Murdoch Mysteries has been just great. I know a few don’t agree with me and that’s OK. Some folks only want the “core four” to feature in every case and have everything wrapped up in a neat bow by the time the hour is up.

Me? I’m loving the deeper dives we’re getting into who Ruth, Watts, Higgins and Brackenreid in Season 12. With so many years under its belt, I truly feel like Murdoch Mysteries has become a well-rounded show boasting a wealth of riches when it comes to cast, crew and stories.

But back to the present, and Episode 11. Here’s what the CBC has released as an official storyline for “Annabella Cinderella,” written by Paul Aitken and directed by Sherren Lee.

Crabtree and John are transporting a convicted axe murderer to prison when she escapes to exact revenge on those who testified against her.

And here are more tidbits from me after watching a screener.

George and John team up
John Brackenreid has been vaulted onto centre stage now that his father has left Toronto. That’s good news for fans of he and actor Charles Vandervaart (for even more Charles, catch him Saturdays on Family Channel on Holly Hobbie). Personally, I love it when George and John are paired up. Not only is there usually a bit of comedy but I also view their dynamic as what William and George’s was back in the early days of Station No. 4.

Rachel Van Duzer guest stars
Rachel Van Duzer plays the woman at the centre of this episode. I’ll have to confirm this with the episode’s writer, but I feel like “Annabella Cinderella” is loosely based on Lizzie Borden‘s story. As for Van Duzer, she’s wonderful in this role, giving dimension to a villainous character. Her scenes with Vandervaart, in particular, will tug at your heart.

A television critic makes his Murdoch Mysteries return
Bill Brioux, a friend and veteran television critic (check out his website for Canadian and U.S. coverage), first appeared in a non-speaking role in Season 5’s “Murdoch of the Klondike.” His triumphant return is marked this Monday as “Ticketman” at the Pickering train station. I expect a Canadian Screen Award nomination soon.

William and Julia are in demand
The pair doesn’t get a lot of screen time on Monday, but they make up for it in a deliciously entertaining storyline involving police manuals and publishing.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Comments and queries for the week of January 11

I really enjoyed the Brackenreid-centred episode, as Mr. Craig may be the most talented actor on the program. As much as I enjoy the standard crime-solving episodes, it pains me greatly to admit that they have run out of ideas for Julia Ogden. This isn’t the fault of the actress, but rather the indifference in her scripts from the earlier seasons. Have you ever gone back to do a re-watch of the older seasons? I never noticed before, but Julia can be downright insufferable in her flip-flopping between modern career woman and clueless waif cowering behind William. They rectified this greatly in later seasons, but by then, much of the creativity present in early seasons had already been spent. Most egregious in this schizophrenic Ogden plotting is the two-parter of “Crimes and Punishment.” Julia spends an entire episode cluelessly believing nothing is wrong, resulting even in William having a “wake up and see the risk you are in” moment with her. Still, she sallies forward with odd smiles and aloof commentary, until she finally wakes up as the judge sentences her to death. Her reaction? “Oh William, do something!” So yes, more Brackenreid. More serious plotting of adult storylines, and not saccharine teenager moralizing. Three cheers for the writers of “Secrets and Lies.” —Sarah

What do I think of this episode? Same feeling I had since the focus seemed to have shifted to characters like Watts and Brakenreid, big disappointment. And this episode is right up there. I don’t know where the series is headed but I am losing interest big time. Of course, Murdoch is always front and centre … with Crabtree. Perhaps they should be portrayed as the power couple because Julia is certainly no longer part of it. Building a dishwasher for Julia, really? Are the writers transforming her into a homemaker, something in my opinion and imagination she will never be and I don’t want to watch episodes where Murdoch is bent on making her into someone she was never raised to be, unlike Margaret Brakenreid. That’s not even funny. What the creators of the show should do is give them employees (i.e. servants) that they certainly can afford. Julia has always been portrayed as a career professional, up until now. Tending to patients in a hospital? After having been a coroner and a psychiatrist, and helping Murdoch solve his crimes. Now the writers, showrunners are changing their mind. A surgeon? Showing her “operating” cannot hold the same fascination for viewers as what she was doing in the morgue and the asylum. This is not a medical show. Unless it is the wish of the actress herself, and if so, perhaps she should lend her talents to another show worthy of them. Yes, for this fan the disappointment is huge and it is also the end of the line. I don’t want to see episodes where Julia is relegated to a very minor and secondary role. Realizing that it is impossible to please everybody, I have seen enough of that this season already. I remember Hélène saying early on in the series that ‘someone’ wanted to eliminate her character. Perhaps this is finally and sadly happening … however gradually. —Noele

When I saw the episode only about Brackenreid, I was OK with it. But I could’ve done without the Watts episode. I do like his character, but not enough for an entire episode. I’m also noticing that William and Julia are slowly becoming secondary characters and I really don’t like that. THEY are the show! But I’m going to wait and see if there’s a William only show and a Julia only show as well. If so, I’ll be very interested to see them. I’m just not into the Ruth and Henry story lines at all. I like hearing about them in passing, but not actually a part of the show. And now, Ruth’s going to be at the hospital with Julia! Also, Dan Trotta joked about Brackenreid getting pregnant. It will really make me upset if Margaret ends up pregnant, and not Julia. I hope Julia’s “secret” is that she’s pregnant, and is afraid to tell William, because of the miscarriage. I want Violet to show her true colors and then be escorted out of the morgue. I also want MORE William and Julia scenes like in the first half of S12. —CD

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

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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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