Tag Archives: Yannick Bisson

Murdoch Mysteries: Yannick Bisson breaks down “Sins of the Father”

Spoiler alert! Do not read on until you have watched the latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Sins of the Father.”

Covering an entire season of Murdoch Mysteries with previews and post-episode interviews—as I have for the past several years—just isn’t complete unless I’ve spoken to Yannick Bisson.

Our chat couldn’t have come at a better time. Monday’s newest, “Sins of the Father,” dealt with the death of Det. William Murdoch’s father, Harry. Though he was only portrayed by Stephen McHattie for two episodes, the impact Harry Murdoch has had on his son has endured. And, unsurprisingly, William acted as though Harry’s demise didn’t affect him. But, as evidence began to suggest murder rather than an accident, William sought justice.

We spoke to Bisson about the episode, his acting choices, Season 12 overall, and his very un-Murdoch-like role in Another Wolfcop where he plays a villain named, yes, Swallows.

I feel like this has become a yearly event, checking in with you. Every year I say, ‘Congratulations on another season,’ but congratulations on Season 12 of Murdoch Mysteries. I’ve loved it so far.
Yannick Bisson: Well, this is my phone call I look forward to because if I’m talking to you, that means we are still in business.

Before we specifically get into ‘Sins of the Father,’ I want to get your take on this season because there have been a few things that have been notable. I want to start with the ‘Sir. Sir? Sir!’ episode, which I think was the most controversial of this season. What was your take on the wacky, Halloween themed episode?
YB: It was great. I mean, we have to take a step aside sometimes and have some fun, and that’s really what a lot of these types of episodes … we’re somewhat blatant with it, so that there’s no mistaking that we’re just going outside the envelope a little bit here and trying something different. We did that in the past with the ‘Weekend at Murdoch’s’ type of episode, so it’s clear that this is not sort of part of the canon if you will, or whatever you want to call that. We’re doing something creative, we’re trying something different, and hopefully, you’re along for the ride. Now, not everybody responded the same way, unfortunately, but we don’t always do it just for the audience. Sometimes we do episodes for us.

As an actor, although you’re enjoying the ride, it is nice to shake things up a bit.
YB: Well, absolutely. I mean, that’s a big part of it for me is doing different things, doing new things, but also within the show having new experiences, meeting new actors and it’s just like any job. It’s great to have new challenges and new opportunities. So, as much as I look forward to other projects completely outside of Murdoch, I also look forward to doing things a little bit differently within Murdoch. That’s been fun to do when we’ve travelled to other countries or done wacky episodes.

William and Julia’s Frank Lloyd Wright house is amazing and not only a refresh for the couple and the set but also the forward-thinking of this couple as we’re gradually moving into further along into the history of the show and the history of Toronto.
YB: Oh, absolutely. It’s good to have these contemporaries sort of float through the timeline of Murdoch, so we’re able to talk about people like Frank Lloyd Wright, which a lot of people associate his work with closer to the 30s and the 20s and stuff like that. So, being able to say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no. Very early in his career, this is possibly the very first year of his public career,’ and so on. We’re able to do that, which is a lot of fun and certainly educational because I definitely would have pinned him as doing the bulk of his work, or certainly the most notable stuff, in the 30s. I had no idea.

I know it’s a good episode of Murdoch when I quickly go to Google and start Googling things to find out more information.
YB: Yeah, no kidding.

So, this past week was kind of a twofer. First of all, Nikola Tesla, always great to have him on the show and got me reminiscing about ‘Power.’ But also Elvis Stojko, who told me that he had a fantastic time. What was it like working with him one-on-one in the interrogation room?
YB: Oh, he was hilarious. I mean, I was laughing out loud at stuff that he was doing and it certainly wasn’t expected. I didn’t know at all what to expect, especially since on the page, that particular scene was pretty funny and then for him to come in and actually be even funnier was a really pleasant surprise. I mean, such a great guy. We reconnected since in the skating world. I went and visited their Thank You Canada show with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Elvis. So, it was a cool connection to make and I’m just so hugely proud of our Olympic athletes. As you know, I’m a very, very proud Canadian, so it was just like heaven for me and then for him to do such a knockout job. It was hilarious.

He didn’t want to look as though he was a figure skater showing up and not be taken seriously.
YB: That’s right. That’s right. He told me about that. He’s also got that mindset of if you want to accomplish something, you’re gonna have to put in the work. You gotta prep. You gotta do what you gotta do and then you’re gonna get the results out of it with the effort that you put in. That seems to be his approach, and it’s kind of cool. Everybody has a different process, a different approach. I certainly appreciated that.

Let’s get into Monday’s episode. The director, Mina Shum, filmed some beautiful scenes of William. The quiet one at the beginning of the episode where he’s in the forest, and then in Harry’s room, going through the suitcase and those old memories. Very unlike some of the scenes that we see in Murdoch.
YB: Yeah, it was funny, from the moment the script came up I started to sort of feel a lot of that stuff and feel a lot of that sense of helplessness, that sense of being let down, the sense of incomplete relationship, a sense of anger, all those different things. It was easy. It came off the page very, very easily for me. The weather cooperated in so many ways because of that read of looking up to the sky and seeing possibly something. I actually added that in, I think. I know I did in a couple of spots. I’m not sure if it was my idea altogether, but I know that I added it in a couple of spots and when I saw the edit, I saw that they kept it in there, so that was interesting because I sort of thought it was almost as if Murdoch conceded to the fact that his father went the way that he should go and that he’s up there and he’s sort of conceded to what Julia says about maybe it was this, maybe it was that. In the end, it may not be perfect, but it was the way it was.

So, the weather kind of cooperated with that, which was kind of weird because at first, it’s gloomy, it’s dark. It’s very unclear and then towards the end, the sky’s starting to part a little bit and it’s a little more clarity. It created a cool symbolism of what Murdoch was feeling.

It was quite interesting to see Simon McNabb credited for the episode because when I think of him, I’m not necessarily thinking of those emotional moments, I’m thinking of funnier moments.
YB: Yeah. And that just goes to show you the depth of our lineup, the depth of our roster, you know?

When William is in the morgue and Harry’s body’s on the table, William is as about as far away from the body as you can get without being out of frame. Was that a conscious decision that he just doesn’t want to go near the body?
YB: Yeah, definitely. I played that physically in tone. He, I thought, very early on put a wall between himself and the entire situation and that becomes clear in the dialogue between the other characters of the story, but he definitely throws up a wall and is protecting himself, but also doesn’t want to lower himself to some possibly very base level, even though he would for other people. He would seek out justice for other people, but with his own father for some reason, he was judge, jury and executioner and so I wanted to physically show that.

I’m sad that Harry’s not going to be around anymore. I kept thinking, ‘OK, maybe it wasn’t him.’ 
YB: Yeah, I know. I know. The reality is it’s probably really difficult to get Stephen McHattie, but there’s also a great opportunity in that script, so it’s like you gotta pick and choose.

Speaking of actors, I couldn’t believe that Sara Botsford and Peter McNeil, neither of them had been on Murdoch Mysteries until Monday night. What was it like working with them?
YB: I know, isn’t that funny? Peter and I go way, way back and Sara, obviously she’s been part of Canadian fabric for so long. It was so incredible to have them both there and I thought a real privilege. They were both so sweet. They were both so complimentary and proud of the show and the accomplishments of the show and the cast. It was just such a sweet time to have them there because these guys are veterans. People like Peter have appeared in some of the biggest movies ever. So, it was just very sweet for them to A) take the time to do the episode with us and then B) to just come around and just, ‘Heck yeah, we want to be part of this. We’re so proud of you guys.’ So, it was a very sweet time.

We just got a handful of episodes left before the end of the season. Obviously, you’re not going to give anything away, but I’m assuming it’s going to be a bit of a rollercoaster heading into the two-part season finale?
YB: Yeah, we’ve got a pretty great season this year. It’s funny because it didn’t feel all that different when we started out. It was like, ‘Alright, we’re doing this. Oh, we’re going to try a weird alien episode? OK.’ Do you know what I mean? We’ve done zombies before, so why not? But, I’m getting so many comments from people saying that it’s just a standout year and stellar and can’t believe we’re this far into it and it’s still so creative and there’s still so much still to offer. So, that really makes me happy, because I’m somewhat isolated a little bit. I film the show. There’s nobody around and then when people are watching the show, I’m not around. So, it’s a little bit strange to be sort of disconnected completely. But, the word on the street is that this is a great year

The writing room is turning out stories that continue to be incredible, and then with the fact that we got to see some back stories of some of the supporting characters, this has just been a great season all around.
YB: Absolutely, and funny enough, all of that great sort of enriching of the secondary characters, everybody’s back story, has actually been a huge blessing for me this past year because it gave me so much downtime that I’m starting to wonder if I was getting written out of my own show. But, it was really great and I think the show has been better for it, because a lot of people are attached to … the bandwidth is much broader now, the attachment to the characters and to their story and to what they want.

One last question. How much fun was it being in Another WolfCop? I saw the movie over the holidays on Super Channel, and man, you’re fantastic in it.
YB: Oh, I’m so glad to hear when people have seen that. It was such a blast. I actually enjoyed working with those guys so much that I partnered up in the production company and we’ve since made some other projects and there are more coming. But yeah, the whole WolfCop thing was so much fun and being able to play that just hugely reprehensible character, it was so great, so great.

It’s worth it just to hear you swear.
YB: Oh, I had a whole bunch more. I had a whole bunch more because they would just tell me, ‘OK, start ripping.’ We banked all kinds of stuff that the world will just never view. But I tell you, that was fun. It was kind of like decades of holding back and I just let loose on it.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Elvis Stojko reflects on playing a villain

Elvis Stojko will always be thought of as a world and Olympic champion figure skater. But Stojko is an actor too and relishes tackling new roles when he has time off from the rink.

That’s what brought him to Murdoch Mysteries. On Monday night he portrayed Sam, a former convict who tangled up in the case of a scientist found murdered in his lab. The script meant Sam went mano-a-mano with Det. Murdoch in the interrogation room and Stojko appreciated the opportunity to spar with Yannick Bisson in those scenes. We spoke to him about the experience and what he’s got scheduled for 2019. [Check out his website too.]

Have you been a fan of Murdoch Mysteries?
Elvis Stojko: I was living in Mexico when Murdoch came out. I don’t think we had access to it there, and when we got back to Canada I got more into hearing more about Murdoch Mysteries, Murdoch Mysteries. I come from the time of The Beachcombers. So now it’s Murdoch Mysteries, I’m like, ‘This is cool.’

My wife and I started watching, we started from the beginning so we’ll binge for a little bit. I think we’re up to Season 3 now. We want to watch it from the beginning and get all of the characters sorted out. We both love period pieces. I love that stuff.

Then [in this episode you have] Nikola Tesla, and I was like, ‘Aw, this is awesome.’ And then they slipped in Albert Einstein. That cracks me up. It’s really great. Those are the things I love about the show, and we were just getting to know characters and how the romance between Murdoch and Julia, how that whole thing is building. So, we were getting into it and we became fans and then, later on, doing the acting thing and I had a connection to [executive producer] Christina [Jennings] and being able to audition for the show and get on was pretty exciting.

So, you auditioned? 
ES: I was meeting with some producers and I had some projects that I wanted to bring through a friend of mine as well, that I had episodics and stuff. And I was able to connect with Christina to take a look at some projects. They said, ‘You know, I think we should get you in an episode of Murdoch. That would be fantastic.’ I didn’t hear for a while from them, because they were busy and everything. And my agent kept checking up with Christina, and they said, ‘Yeah, I think we got something for Elvis that would be really great.’ Obviously, they wanted to see how I would do, so it was sort of an informal audition. It was nice because the director was in the audition room, which doesn’t typically happen during casting. It was great because we played around with some stuff and wanted to kind of get an idea of what I could do and what I was playing with. I was working with my acting coach on it, and then it went from there. It was so great to work with Yannick because I’m actually with Murdoch, which is awesome.

Nikola Tesla is a big fan favourite. I loved him since the very first episode of Murdoch Mysteries back when it debuted in 2008. He’s only been back a couple of times since then, and one of them is in Monday’s episode. So yeah, you were in a landmark and exciting episode.
ES: Yeah, I was really excited to see that. I read the script, and I was prepping for the character and everything, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, Nikola Tesla’s in this episode. This is great.’

I’m glad that they didn’t say, ‘OK, we’re getting Elvis Stojko, so let’s come up with a reason to put some skates on him.’ I like the fact that they didn’t do that.
ES: The thing is I want to separate myself from that, I don’t want people saying, ‘Well, he got the part cause he’s a skater.’ Because I’m studying acting. I’m an actor. I can hold my own, I’ve been in Chicago. So, it’s one of those things where separating myself from that and having people see me as an actor, not as a skater that’s acting. It’s important to kind of change that branding.

Obviously, seeing your name in the credits will cause people to look for you, but you’re not totally recognizable. Maybe I wouldn’t have recognized you if your name wasn’t in the credits. I mean that’s part and parcel of being a good actor, is that you’re immersed in the character, and the wardrobe and makeup helped as well.
ES: Yeah, it was one of those things where when I was playing the character and I was working with my acting coach on it; it happened where even my agent said it, I was working on some parts and I would send her some video and she’s like, ‘I didn’t even see you in there. You’re there but it’s not you.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, that’s good. Excellent.’ There are all these different levels that I’ve been working on it, diligently, every week going to class, working with three different acting coaches, trying to find out what would be the best vehicle for me. Over the years of training skating, the best thing is finding the right coach and finding the right technique that fits me. Zoning in on that was really important. All those years of expertise and knowing myself, I was trying to figure out, ‘You know what? I need to expose myself to different methodologies, understand this … I gotta figure out what I’m gonna gravitate to.’

And it took time, of course. It’s taken a number of years to get to that point. And with this, it was great because I’ve worked with Brad Milne at Milne Studio, and Lewis Baumander was the one that really helped me on this project. And as soon as they put me in the costume and I did the piece, it was kinda like I was absorbed in the character. It’s not like, ‘There’s Elvis, he sticks out like a skater.’ I’m glad that you saw that because it wasn’t a lot of makeup.

A lot of people that I speak to talk about how important it is, particularly in a period piece like Murdoch, that how much the wardrobe and the makeup really help them get into character. So by the time you get to set, you’re already there. Was it the same for you? It sounds like it.
ES: Yeah, when we went for the fitting, with the bowler hat and everything … I kinda settled in and they talked about the sideburns, which we did later. The hat, I was like, ‘Oh great, I got a bowler hat. This is kinda cool.’ And then, I didn’t realize I would have one until I got on set, and then I just grabbed a hat and just kinda used it as that’s his thing.

On a cellular level, you just become that time and space. And of course, Yannick is just so awesome. It’s what he does. He’s a master at it. As soon as I was with him in the room, there were no cameras. It was just me and him. I didn’t see anything else, it was just the character. I really worked on getting good at doing that. It’s very different obviously in theatre, where you have an audience, but it’s a little bit different where you can be intimate but then you have a bunch of cameras around and guys just hanging out, the sound guy.

Working with Yannick was wonderful because it was just that moment where I could immerse myself fully into it, and it made playing it much more at ease so I could just relax with the character and not be too tense, which was nice.

How many days were you on set, Elvis? A couple of days, just one?
ES: It was just one. We banged it out. I was there early in the morning. I got there early in the morning. I think call time was like 9:30, and then they put me in makeup and then we waited and we shot in the afternoon. It was wonderful. To be able to be taken around the set, and Gladys [Orozco], my wife, loved it because she loves antiques … so looking on set, it was like, ‘Holy cow, this stuff’s real!’

So, we met this character of Sam, and the thing about Murdoch Mysteries is that there’s always a mysteries that someone’s getting killed off. Sam didn’t get killed, so you could come back!
ES: Well, that would be great. The way I portrayed Sam is that he’s an ex-con, not very smart. He’s a dumb hitman that just wants the money. That was the play on it and I played it a little bit more and that’s what the director liked because I kind of had a little bit of … instead of playing it seriously, played it a little funny. At the beginning, he thinks he’s the smartest guy and then all of a sudden, ‘I think I said too much.’ As he tries to get himself out of the hole, he keeps digging himself deeper. And that was the whole gist of the character. It’d be great to have him come back and kind of muddle up something. I mean, it’s one of those characters that he could be one of Murdoch’s guys on the street that kind of give him some info on what’s happening, right?

What have you got coming up either acting or otherwise in 2019? I think, is it the Thank You Canada special? You were part of that, that’s coming up, right?
ES: Yeah, that’s coming out on the 10th of February. We finished that up. My wife and I did a show down in Virginia. We had a four-year contract with Busch Gardens Virginia, so we did, like, 65 shows there. This is our fourth year doing it. And that was a lot of fun. That was butted up against the Thank You Canada tour. Came back, because I shot Murdoch, then went on tour, then did Virginia, then came home. And now I’m just gearing up for a bunch of skating shows in March and then of course Stars on Ice, which I’m doing in the spring. But in the meantime, I’ve got a movie I’m filming next week, an action film.

I’ve got another, just a small part in it, due to the fact that they wanted me in some other stuff but I had a previous engagement last week to go to the National Championships and be an ambassador, so the shooting date didn’t coincide. But I play a military guy in that.

In the fall they’re going to do the Thank You Canada tour but they’ll call it something different. It’ll be different again, it’ll have other skaters as well; the same group but some more skaters. They may dip down into the U.S. as well. So we’ll see where that heads, it’ll probably be a little bit bigger. It’s definitely building for the year, but I leave the summer open for all my acting and auditions and especially for stuff I know that they shoot during that time, so we’ll see what comes of it and, you know, that keeps me busy.

What did you think of Elvis’ guest-starring role on Murdoch Mysteries? And what did you think of this episode overall? Let me know in the comments below!

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: Costume designer Joanna Syrokomla discusses the show’s stunning clothes

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the “My Big Fat Mimico Wedding” episode of Murdoch Mysteries.

Joanna Syrokomla has one of the best jobs in television and film. Yes, being a costume designer is a lot of work, but the opportunity to spend someone else’s money to research, create, make and/or rent the clothes worn by characters sounds incredible.

Syrokomla—who has been the costume designer on such series as The L.A. Complex, Bitten, Backstage and Chateau Laurier (for which she recently won an International Academy of Web Television Award)—joined the Murdoch Mysteries crew for Season 12 and has, in my mind, made an immediate impact. That was never more evident in the stunning clothes worn by Ruth Newsome, Henry Higgins and their guests during Monday’s nuptials. How did Syrokomla design Ruth’s dress? What’s different about Julia’s look? And what items in his wardrobe does Yannick Bisson refuse to change? Read on to find out!

What does the title of costume designer mean, specifically when we’re talking about Murdoch Mysteries?
Joanna Syrokomla: I’m ultimately responsible for every article of clothing that goes on-camera. Obviously, we do the research required for Murdoch. I watched previous seasons of Murdoch—I was already a fan—and the wonderful thing about that is you can see what really works on the characters. I could watch what was really great on Hélène Joy, what made her glow and was successful on her. I’ve tried to update Julia’s look. She’s starting to lean towards 1910 even though it’s 1906 to give it a freshness to the look of Murdoch and to her and to, frankly, accent some of the stock because there are only so many costumes in Canada to rent to all of those day players.

I have a crew that ranges between eight and 15 people, depending on the day. I have a workshop where we build and sew costumes. We make things from scratch for our leads. And if there are any specialty stunts … we’ve been making Ruth Newsome a bunch of stuff because she is amazing. Siobhan Murphy can pull off anything. She can pull off big sleeves, she can pull off a train, she can pull off crazy colours and I’ve really made quite an effort to realize her character more visually. I feel like I’ve been trying to do that with a few of the characters. We know Murdoch is not realistic. So, for me, it’s about making things that the audience is really going to love.

It’s interesting to hear to say that you do keep the fans in mind when you’re designing something.
JS: We also use more modern things. I’ve been buying things are Zara and Forever 21. Violet and Ogden are wearing things that we’ve bought from Forever 21 and just recut and adapted them. At the end of the day, there is a fan base that wants to see pretty clothes. And as long as they don’t distract from the action, we want to bring some colour, texture and warmth. Again, it’s not high realism. High realism at that time was all very brown, cream and tan and hot wool. That’s what I love about Murdoch Mysteries over some other period series. There is a fun element to Murdoch Mysteries. We say, ‘Is it period, or is it Murdoch period?’

What was the inspiration behind Ruth’s gorgeous wedding dress?
JS: Ruth, obviously, is over the top. The style of her dress is a little modern for the period. It’s leaning more towards a 1908-1910 silhouette. The character takes up a lot of space visually and I love that about her. And Siobhan is a stunning creature. The dress started off as a dress we found in a Montreal costume house. We redid the sleeves and changed the train. We ended up changing it so much I’m not even sure you would recognize the original dress. It’s now in two pieces and the costume house loved it so much they said, ‘Don’t change it,’ because sometimes we have to change things back. There was so much action going on we had to make sure she didn’t have a really long train. At first, I wanted her to have this really ridiculous, long train and veil but there so much action that you can’t have that stuff be in the way.

You mentioned Montreal. So, you’re going all over the country for rentals and inspiration?
JS: Absolutely. Toronto does have some really exceptional costume rental houses but we were sent to Montreal for about a week because Montreal has an excellent period stock. I think they might just do more period movies in Montreal. We spent a couple of days in costume houses there and bought a bunch of fabric there. But things to get rented from Vancouver and we do [use items from] Los Angeles a little bit. We’ve also been going to the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival, hitting places that Murdoch hadn’t really hit before just for some new stock.

Let’s talk about what the men were wearing during the wedding. What can you tell me about their tuxes?
JS: It’s officially called morning wear. They wouldn’t be tuxedoes. They would be morning coats for an afternoon wedding. It was a lot of fun to put everyone in morning wear. It’s always wonderful when the guys come in in their sneakers and shorts and just the way they stand when they start putting on all this formal gear is beautiful. We even had some pieces sent in from Winnipeg, which has the oldest costume house in Canada. It was the original Malabar costumes and then branched to Toronto and Montreal. We had some pieces from there because we have gunshot wounds in the episode. There is a whole jacket switch that has to happen between Henry and George. In reality, the two of them are not the same size, so we had to find jackets that we were allowed to put gunshot wounds in.

One thing I’m not sure if you noticed and I’m curious if you did. The pyjamas. In the story, everyone goes to the wedding, and everyone has to stay overnight. No one had intended to stay overnight so everyone is wearing pyjamas. And we’re not sure if they were Roger’s pyjamas or Rupert’s pyjamas. It was a way we could put Hélène in those beautiful, silky, pyjamas and Crabtree in the yellow paisley pyjamas and, of course, Murdoch wore some serious ones. That was something that came up. We were in a meeting and I asked what everyone was wearing. I don’t know who it was, it might even have been me, who said, ‘What if it was Rupert’s pyjamas?’

How far in advance are you brought in to discuss clothing?
JS: It’s during the first draft period. I had a little more time for the wedding episode. It was actually one of the first episodes we shot so we had a little bit more time. But it’s basically two weeks.

You’ve already spoken about Julia’s look changing. What about William’s? I don’t imagine his clothing has been altered too much style-wise.
JS: Everybody is very, very happy with his look over the years. And Yannick himself doesn’t want to change it. He wears the same shoes and the same cufflinks from the very first movie and refuses to change them. He wears the same shoes, we just get the refurbished every year. I got him some new cufflinks and he said, ‘No, no, I’ve been wearing the same cufflinks.’ We just made more of the same. He does have some looks this year which are new, but nothing drastic. I even tried to get him a new hat. They don’t make that one anymore. I got it from a vintage seller on eBay in his size and everything. He picked it up and said, ‘Yeah, it’s good as a backup hat.’

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Mary Pedersen, Peter Mitchell, Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy discuss what’s next for William and Julia

Spoiler alert! Do NOT continue reading until you have watched Episode 17, “Shadows are Falling,” of Murdoch Mysteries. I’m serious.

I know a lot of you are upset. I understand that. So many Murdoch Mysteries fans have wanted William and Julia to be parents of their own baby. Sadly, that’s not going to happen. At least, not in the near future. That was the sad reality during “Shadows are Falling,” when Julia lost the baby to a miscarriage, leaving the couple in tatters. By episode end, emotions were running high and William walked out.

The reality is, Murdoch Mysteries is—as always—about the mysteries. The murders. The crimes. Anything else is just extra stuff we get to enjoy. Murdoch‘s showrunner, Peter Mitchell, and his writing staff know what they’re doing. I trust them and have for years. They know these characters better than we do and also know what’s best for them. So, while I understand some folks being angry with Monday’s storyline, I’m in for the long haul. I love all of these characters, their experiences and their lives. But I’m also in it for the mysteries, especially now that Season 12 has been announced!

With that in mind, here’s my chat with episode writer Mary Pedersen, showrunner Peter Mitchell and actors Hélène Joy and Yannick Bisson.

Yannick, Season 11 of Murdoch Mysteries has been fantastic. Great, funny, storylines, creative mysteries and wonderful new characters. You must be thrilled.
Yannick Bisson: It’s been another great season and for the folks that have stuck with us, and for the new viewers, it’s been a pretty great season for them. We’ve been able to have some really light-fare episodes that the fans have really responded well to. I think our highest-rated episodes this year was one of the more, sort of, light ones with ‘Crabtree a la Carte.’ It’s fun to see how things flow and change and the show keeps building.

That said, Monday’s episode has shocked and upset many fans.
Yannick Bisson: Absolutely. When you’re talking about big strains on relationships and stuff like that, these are universal themes that hit home with people. And I think there is a sense of ownership and investment with a lot of fans. When they are confronted with some of the stuff that’s coming, there are going to be some upset people.

Do you think Julia and William should have a baby?
Hélène Joy: I think they should have one if they want one, yes. I think they should be able to make that choice if they want and be free to change their minds and go another way, like adoption. We discovered from the adoption process earlier that it made them just as happy. I feel like, in the end, they will and should find a child to love.

Mary, I was reading through Facebook and you were referred to as “the writer of doom,” because you wrote “The Accident” and were the credited writer on “Shadows are Falling.” 
Mary Pedersen: I love it! I’ve demanded that everyone in the writer’s room call me that from now on.

These storylines go through so many approvals—from Pete Mitchell to Shaftesbury and CBC—one person cannot be blamed.
Mary Pedersen: A year ago we arced out what we wanted for Murdoch and Ogden this season and that started with something the fans have also been saying, ‘Oh, they’re married now. What’s going on, it’s boring? When are they going to have a baby and get a house?’ The thinking was that if we went back to the time when there was a lot of excitement, tension, curiosity and questions about what was going on in their relationship before that actually got together, how could we bring back some of that tension into their lives? Not the miscarriage itself, but the overall taking them into a new experience was really the goal of the whole thing. We knew it was going to be something that would create some difficulties for them and some questions for them and their relationship in a way, that I hope, is a natural thing that happens in any relationship. You’re always going to come up against challenges and difficulties and, of course, we confidence in Yannick and Hélène’s abilities to really portray that.

Peter, why was it important to take William and Julia on this journey?
Peter Mitchell: I wanted to do a story of consequence for both the characters and the actors. They are so at ease with their characters that people sometimes forget the fact these two can really act. I wanted to give them a story that both the actors and the characters could sink their teeth into. Plus, it’s a story that is true for a lot of couples. And I hope the fans can accept that. Sometimes in a series, the stories of the most emotional consequence are carried out by the guest characters. The guest character gets the wrenching story and the main character is an enabler or solver of problems.

Do you enjoy putting these characters through an emotional roller coaster and getting feedback from the fans?
Mary Pedersen: Yes. We know that it’s a gift. Sometimes we get comments that are not that great, but ultimately at the end of the day, every day, the fact that the fans care this much is a gift. And we don’t take that lightly. It’s really meaningful. I’ve worked on other projects where you don’t hear a thing. It’s completely different at Murdoch. The woman at the store where I get my pet food is excited. My neighbours are excited. It really changes the experience and it’s really wonderful. The passion that the fans have for Murdoch and Ogden and I think the joy that they felt for the pregnancy and the sadness and empathy they have for their loss is the same that they might have for a family member and that’s a great thing. Being able to do that with the viewers is a gift and one of the things you go into writing or acting for.

Hélène, how have you felt about Julia’s journey this season?
Hélène Joy: I think it’s great. First and foremost, this is a show about mysteries and we like to make sure that’s true. But it’s undeniable that the audience is in love with this couple and their journey. We’ve had all different incarnations of that but it’s been really nice. Obviously, the journey of wanting to have children is so personal and I think a lot of women have responded to her real desire to do this and the joy of it. What happened tonight is devastating but it’s so, so, common. It’s an incredibly common experience, trying to have children. It doesn’t mean they can’t have one again, but it happens a lot. It’s been really brave of the writers to go there and for me, it’s been fun to have such highs and lows to play.

Everything came up in the argument between William and Julia. God, guilt, punishment, faith and then the hot-button topic of abortion. You didn’t leave anything out.
Mary Pedersen: At the beginning of the episode when William is there at her bedside … if they were able to go home then and just be alone together none of this would have happened. But, because they are interrupted and spent time apart, they start to spiral into their own bad places. Because they weren’t able to process their grief together, they were in different places and it brought up all of those things. In any marriage, there are some big issues that are unresolved and you put it in the closet and hope it won’t come up. But it always, always, always will come up. This felt like a natural place to go with them.

The scenes between William and Julia are so raw and emotional. Was it difficult to get into that mindset for filming?
Yannick Bisson: Yeah, the subject matter is dark and difficult and in any given scene you have to sustain an emotional place for hours and hours—sometimes an entire day in order to get all of the coverage—and it sucks to go to work on those days, especially when you’re talking about some tough stuff like loss and betrayal.

Hélène Joy: Yannick and I were like, ‘Is it over yet?’ You have to, as an actor, dredge it from somewhere. It has to come up. It can be kind of exhausting. The scene where I’m lying in the hospital bed and I wake up. There are no words, just a lot of grief. That was at the end of the day and I knew it was coming. So the process begins, unconsciously, at the beginning of the day that you begin to think of the things that make you feel that bad. What happens with me throughout the day is that I get sadder and sadder. It was hard. Yannick and I both hated it.

A lot of folks, including myself, don’t trust Violet Hart. What kind of impact has Violet had in the writer’s room this season?
Mary Pedersen: It’s been great. We miss Mouna but it’s been nice to go in a different direction and try something new with the Violet that we weren’t doing with Rebecca. It’s an opportunity that’s going to pay off for a while.

What can you tell those upset folks that will help them cope until next week’s episode?
Yannick Bisson: Hang in there. There are ups and downs in life and we’re trying to mirror that with the show. The biggest thing to keep in mind as that you have two very strong characters and they have certain points of view. That’s what we’ve come to enjoy from the writing, so we have to stick it out and see them come out the other side.

Mary Pedersen: This is a quote that I like that I keep coming back to, somehow, for this: ‘Everything will be OK in the end.’ Not meaning Episode 18, but Murdoch and Ogden overall.

Will fans be happy by the end of the Season 11 finale?
Yannick Bisson: There is some resolution but I think we’re going to leave some room for people to tune back in for Season 12.

Murdoch Mysteries‘ Season 11 finale airs next Monday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

What did you think of the episode? Can William and Julia turn it around for the season finale? Are you happy Murdoch Mysteries will be back for Season 12? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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Preview: “Shadows are Falling” on Murdoch Mysteries

The Murdoch Mysteries fans have spoken! Last week’s episode, “Game of Kings,” was a resounding favourite and I totally agree. Maureen Jennings’ script was jam-packed with history, humour and action; everything that makes for a great instalment.

That, of course, leads us to Monday’s new episode, “Shadows are Falling,” written by Mary Pedersen and directed by Sherren Lee. You may remember the last time Pedersen penned a Murdoch Mysteries storyline, “The Accident,” where she reduced us to tears. Will she do the same this time around? Here’s the official synopsis for “Shadows are Falling” from the CBC:

Murdoch and Ogden must put aside dealing with a personal matter when Nate Desmond is charged with murder.

And here are more morsels to chew on while you wait until Monday.

Congratulations Jonny Harris!
Jonny Harris and his writing crew captured their second Canadian Screen Award in a row for their work on Still Standing. The series took home the trophy for Best Writing, Factual.

Julia and William at their darkest
This is, after all, the penultimate episode of Season 11. You didn’t expect everything to be hunky dory, did you? Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy put in performances of the season on Monday night. Keep your tissues close by.

Nate and Rebecca return
With Nate accused of murder, it only makes sense to have Rebecca James return to Toronto as well. The man collaring Nate is none other than the newly-promoted Horace McWorthy, played by Sean Bell, of Station House No. 1. That means Watts does some digging in his old stomping grounds. Meanwhile, parts of the investigation are particularly painful for William and Julia. The last several minutes of “Shadows are Falling” is shocking, sad and changes everything.

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

Images courtesy of Stephen Scott for CBC.

 

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