Tag Archives: Murdoch Mysteries

Review: Murdoch Mysteries gets wild in Western themed tale

After having the first two episodes of Murdoch Mysteries deal with some pretty dark subject matter–human trafficking and the after effects of Brackenreid’s awful beating–I was glad for a rollicking good ride thanks to a couple of miscreants from the annals of history.

“Glory Days,” written by Peter Mitchell and Jordan Christianson and directed by star Yannick Bisson, welcomed Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh–also known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid–to Toronto where they became embroiled in a storyline focusing on William Barclay “Bat” Masterson (Steven Ogg), the frontier lawman, gambler and sports writer who pulled a gun on the notorious duo moments before a prize fight featuring Canadian boxer George “Little Chocolate” Dixon. Higgins and Jackson were in the audience and tackled Bat before he squeezed off a shot in the packed room.

Bloody hell indeed.

With Bisson directing, the somewhat light-hearted episode turned its focus to not only whether the dastardly duo was in Toronto but to Murdoch and Julia’s upcoming nuptials. Turns out Margaret Brackenreid wanted to take over the planning of their happy day. Or something as small as taking care of the flowers. Anything, Brackenreid confessed, to get Margaret to stop talking about it during dinner. Speaking of the wedding, Julia wasn’t so sure she wanted to have the ceremony in Murdoch’s Catholic church, so she went to speak to Father Clements (Anthony Lemke) about it and was challenged to consider her own faith in the church.

As it turned out, the men Bat saw at the fight weren’t Butch and Sundance but the lawman (who took great pleasure in showing Julia his, um, six-shooter) wasn’t about to give up on the hunt. He grew only more bold when two men robbed the Bank of Toronto at gunpoint and were identified by the stuttering manager that Butch and Sundance were on the loose. Things got serious when a train headed to Simcoe, Ont., was robbed of its Grand Trunk Railroad payroll by the criminals and a man was killed in the process. It was then the truth came out: Butch and Sundance weren’t really in the city but Bat lied they were because he missed his “glory days.”

There were several funny moments during the chase, most notably Brackenreid, Crabtree and Murdoch standing outside a house of ill repute while Bat “questioned” a young woman who claimed to have seen the two. Murdoch Mysteries can be serious to be sure, but it can be very, very funny too. Who else howled when Murdoch stumbled into the table after he was proffered by the prostitute or snickered in anticipation of Crabtree’s bachelor party for the detective?

And a special thank you to Mitchell and Christianson for including “horseback ride” in Monday’s script; having the Toronto coppers play cowboy–complete with an expansive accompanying soundtrack–was a great nod to the wild West. And Murdoch’s football tackle of a baddie through the wall of a hay loft? Just awesome.

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

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Review: Det. Murdoch’s dark edge

The prevailing tone consuming the first two episodes of Murdoch Mysteries this season has been one of darkness. That’s a pretty odd thing to say about a TV series that deals with a murder of the week, but Murdoch Mysteries has always juxtaposed that with a pretty large dose of humour thanks to Crabtree and Higgins, and even a well-timed “Bloody hell!” courtesy of Brackenreid.

And while those two young coppers did supply a few chuckles–along with the fantastic Patrick McKenna as Inspector Hamish Slorach–much of “On the Waterfront” parts one and two showed darker sides to characters we’ve loved for eight seasons.

Leading the pack was, of course, Brackenreid. He’s always had an edge to him, a willingness to throw a few fists around in the interrogation room if it meant getting a confession. But his lone wolf act–seeking out the O’Shea brothers with nary a badge nor a care about his own well-being in their search–was very different. When those dastardly brothers ended up dead I must admit I wondered if Brackenreid had had a hand in it.

Story-wise, the tale of corruption at Toronto’s wharf took a horrible turn and delved into adult territory with the realization that overseas women were part of a human trafficking ring that was coming out of the city docks; pretty mature stuff for 8 p.m. on a Monday night.

Murdoch, rightly disgusted by the whole thing, took out his frustrations on one man by decking him. I like it when Murdoch is willing to get his hands dirty and use them instead of his intelligence, so I was more than happy to see him dole out some 10-fingered justice. That rough side came out later when Murdoch faced off with Leslie Garland, with the former telling the latter–who had just lost his job as a lawyer thanks to Julia–that if he ever showed his face around again Murdoch would take off his badge throw some punches. I’m secretly hoping Leslie drops by so I can see that happen.

And while the boys were getting physical, Murdoch’s girls were fighting with their minds. Things looked bleak after their arrest for staging a protest in support of the Suffragette movement and Emily’s assault charged hinted she’d be spending time behind bars. That was until Clara Brett Martin entered the fray. Murdoch Mysteries’ latest real-life historical figure, played by Patricia Fagan, is the first female lawyer in the British Empire. Her spunk, willingness to play the legal game–and use a little blackmail supplied by Julia–got all of the charges against the accused dropped. (I was hoping Leslie’s little game of scaring Julia into thinking James Gillies was still alive would come back to haunt him.) Clara, another high-ranking female in Toronto’s circles will no doubt inspire Julia and Emily to push women’s rights even further this season and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

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

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Video: 15 things you didn’t know about Murdoch’s Yannick Bisson

Kudos to the CBC and Yannick Bisson’s daughter, Mikaela, for sitting down and revealing some top-secret info about her dad. Sure we know that his television alter ego–Detective William Murdoch–is Roman Catholic and loves Dr. Julia Ogden. But what about the man who plays him? What is his favourite food? Is he a dog or cat person? What does he wear when he’s not dressed up like Toronto’s best turn-of-the-century detective?

Here are 15, actually 17, facts about Yannick Bisson, including how to pronounce his name.

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

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Comments and queries for the week of Oct. 10

Strange Empire is my new favourite. I had such high hopes for this and I wasn’t disappointed. I tend to go for good serial dramas with strong female leads and as this is set in the Canadian West, a place very dear to my heart, the show attracted me from the start. Overall, this was a great pilot and I look forward to more. I think the writers did a good job of making the show dark and adult while at the same time keeping out the swearing–I know many people, like my mother, for instance, wouldn’t watch it if there was. I also like the camera work and use of scenery. Can’t wait to see next week’s episode.–Ally

I teach a Western genre class at the college level and my students will be learning about this Canadian-focused (and Canadian-produced) series. I thought the first episode was strong, with a good set-up of narrative arcs for development. The lead characters/actors gave strong (and believable) performances. The show’s approach and characters are quite singular, given the current TV (and mainstream Western genre) landscape.–Chad

 

I was so pleased to see Jo Joyner on Murdoch Mysteries. I hope you  can write her into more episodes. Glad to see our Tanya [from EastEnders] came across the pond! Good luck to her!–Jacqueline

Hang tight Jacqueline, Jo appears in Monday’s episode of Murdoch too!

We love Murdoch Mysteries. [Monday’s] episode was an unbelievable pairing of the dark side of the waterfront and the thugs that control it and the dealing with the feminine movement to gain the vote. It was very violent and we were shocked that the treatment of the women in their “peaceful protest.” We see that Canada (Upper Canada and its Orangemen hold on democracy for men only) was quite violent which is not how I think of Canada. I hope Crabtree gets back with Dr. Grace and that William and Julia get married so they can have their “dream” child.–Lynn

Hold tight, Lynn. Next week’s episode is even better and I can say that things get pretty tough for Dr. Grace and Crabtree…

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Fire off an email to greg@tv-eh.com.

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Murdoch Mysteries explores the dark side in Season 8

The closing moments of Monday’s Season 8 return of Murdoch Mysteries–“On the Waterfront, Part One”–isn’t like anything the series has done before. A showdown at Toronto’s waterfront between union workers–led by the dastardly O’Shea brothers–faces off against Det. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and the rest of the Constabulary. Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy) and Dr. Julia Grace (Georgina Reilly) are caught up in their own conflagration between members of the Suffragette movement and men who don’t take kindly to women wanting to vote.

The carefully choreographed scenes that cut back and forth from wharf to city square ramp up in tension to a boiling point viewers aren’t used to seeing from the CBC drama.

“It was fun to shoot,” Jonny Harris says of the scene between the dock workers and the police force, of which his Constable George Crabtree is a part. “All the dock workers were big sort of stunt guys and all the cops are station cops that have been on the show for years … not huge guys. Everybody went for broke on every take that day.” The conflagration at the dock is a result of union guys refusing to back down against the police, but it’s also about a police force seeking justice for the vicious attack on Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) at the hands of the O’Sheas. The Season 7 finale “The Death of Dr. Ogden,” saw the engagement of Murdoch and Ogden announced, but that happy moment was tempered by the discovery of Brackenreid’s beaten body on a dusty Toronto street.

Monday’s return does address the fate of the beloved Brackenreid while introducing a new boss in Det. Hamish Slorach (Patrick McKenna, Remedy), a man very unlike his predecessor.

As for Crabtree, Season 8 represents growth for the character. His up-and-down relationship with Dr. Grace is put on the back burner when a new lady enters his life in the form of a lady from the series’ past. Harris says Tamara Hope, who appeared in the very first episode of Murdoch Mysteries in 2008, reprises her role as Edna Garrison, a single mom struggling to make ends meet. Crabtree becomes a surrogate father to Edna’s son, a departure for a character usually relied upon for laughs.

“Over so many years, you want to keep your characters that people fell in love with, but you do need to make significant changes otherwise it just becomes redundant,” Harris explains. Does he ever wish Crabtree would show a dark side to him? The Newfoundland native smiles.

“He’s a pretty good guy,” Harris says. “I was liking Crabtree and Grace last year because they each had their moments of being petulant and jealous. I thought that was kind of nice. You have the romance between Ogden and Murdoch, which has always had its obstacles and troubles, but they’re mostly pure of heart. With Crabtree and Grace, it had to do with envy.”

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

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