It’s the most wonderful time of the year … except for a murdered philanthropist and stolen gifts meant for needy children. That’s the main storyline behind Monday’s upcoming Murdoch Mysteries‘ holiday special “A Merry Murdoch Christmas”, a rollicking two-hour present guest-starring Ed Asner as Santa Claus, Downton Abbey‘s Brendan Coyle as Mr. Rankin and The O.C.‘s Kelly Rowan as Mrs. Millicent McGowan alongside the series’ regulars.
â€œItâ€™s a complete Christmas movie,â€ showrunner Peter Mitchellâ€”who wrote the instalmentâ€”teases. â€œYou donâ€™t have to have seen an episode of Murdoch Mysteries to watch it.â€
There’s a lot going on inÂ “A Merry Murdoch Christmas” aside from the main crime: the holidays stir up bad memories for Inspector Brackenreid and Crabtree seems destined for a Christmas alone. And, if the picture of William and Julia can be trusted, a very special gift is in the cards.
Take a peek at these images and get ready for Monday night.
Murdoch Mysteries‘ “A Merry Murdoch Christmas” airs Monday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. on CBC.
I understand you’re waiting to be picked up for a ride to your next gig. Can you tell me about the role?
I’m shooting a film now called Brown Girl in the Ring that’s based on the book by Nalo Hopkinson. It’s a dystopian, sci-fi film about a girl living in 2049 Toronto and how she’s battling with herself and her grandmother over whether or not she should step into these superpowers that she has that are connected through their spirituality.
That couldn’t be any different from the role we’re seeing now with you playing a character in 1903.
Yeah, I’m going from the past to the future. It’s been a really interesting year.
How did you end up being involved in Murdoch Mysteries?
What’s funny is I’ve auditioned for the show multiple times over the years and I never got the parts. I was always really bummed out. One of the last auditions that I had was for the Ragtime episode and my friend Tenika DavisÂ ended up getting the role; she was great in it. I auditioned for this role and didn’t really expect it to be as big as it became. I only imagined it being a one or two episode thing. I love to audition for shows in other time periods and had a lot of fun in this one and I got the part.
Murdoch Mysteries is an established show. Was there any kind of nervousness on your part on that first day?
Oh my gosh, I was nervous for the first three months! It’s really intimidating to walk onto the set where some people have been working together the entire time. I’m really the new kid on the block. I always put a lot of pressure on myself not only with the work but in fitting in and wondering where to sit in the cafeteria. Do I sit with the grips, or the extras or the cast? It’s so silly, but I guess I’m still a bit young and new to the game.
So, where did you sit?
I feel like I sat with the sound guys!
You have several episodes under your belt. Have you gotten used to having your hair up and wearing layers of clothing?
No! I’m always wondering if there will be an episode where I don’t have to have my hair up. I have a lot of hair and would love to let it loose, but I know that’s not what was going on during the time period. Wearing the costumes has been fun, but the corset makes me cry sometimes. Not because I’m sad, but because I can’t breathe. But, actually, wearing something restrictive like that brings you into character.
We’ve gotten a little bit of background on Rebecca. We know she’s from the U.S. and had a wealthy patron who was helping her gain medical knowledge. What else can you say?
She is really, really curious about medicine and, of course, she wishes she could complete her schooling and practice medicine, but maybe she feels there are too many obstacles in the way and it’s more important to take care of herself than get back to medical school.
What kind a research did you do into ladies of this time period?
I specifically looked at black Victorians and people of colour in that time period because I think we see media jump from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement. There is all of this great stuff in between and a wide variance of the black experience in Canada and the U.S., and how long black people have been in Canada. We had black people in Toronto at this time and they were all over Ontario and upstate New York. Even though this single character can’t carry all of that, it gives a glimpse into that part of history and, hopefully, interested viewers will do their own research.
Does Rebecca experience racism?
Yes, of course. She’ll face her own challenges in the next few episodes and even though Dr. Ogden and Det. Murdoch are really kind to her, not everybody in the community shares their sentiment. We will see, as the season progresses, not only how Rebecca deals with racism, but the other characters as well.
What’s been your experience with the fans so far?
I haven’t heard too much so far. I know the show has a huge fan base and I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say. I’m also doubly intimidated by that. I also feel very grateful that everyone is so open to a character like Rebecca James.
James Pendrick and Terrence Meyers are two galvanizing characters in my household. Simply put? My family doesn’t like them. I’ve never been able to nail down exactly why they have an aversion to the duo, but I suspect it’s because Pendrick is a bit on the arrogant side and Meyers never really answers a question or comes clean when he screws up.
The two, along with Allen Clegg, returned for a rollicking good story written by Paul Aitken. The timing of the episode couldn’t have been better. With Spectre in theatres, Murdoch Mysteries’ take on spy capers involved a devious plan, a 1903 angle on the Cold War, a massive $4 million ransom delivered before a 24-hour deadline ran out and … superheroes. In what may very well have been Aitken’s twist onÂ Thunderball,Â there was a plot not to drop an atomic bomb on Miami, but a missile loaded with TNT aimed at New York City. The missile was based on Pendrick’s own rocket design, something he’s been planning to use to, eventually, become the first man on the moon. (By episode’s end, it appeared Meyers may in fact claim that title or crash-land in Borneo instead.)
If Murdoch is ever interested in another career, spy would be a fantastic option. After all, he did flit around the sky alongside Pendrick in those pressurized suits and dismantled the doomsday device.Â My favourite MM episodes are the ones involving scientific devices, so I was positively giddy at the contraptions and tongue-in-cheekiness of that scene where Pendrick spun the wardrobe around to reveal the pressure suits hanging like Batman’s cowl and cape.
Notes and quotes
“I flew!!!” That might be the quote of the year from Murdoch Mysteries.
“Is that a bird? Some kind of airplane?” Second-best quote of the year.
Who else was cackling when Murdoch complained A Trip to the MoonÂ (Le voyage dans la lune) wasn’t scientifically accurate? William may be loosening up, but … baby steps.
Rebecca, it was revealed after she helped solve the case, attended medical school in the U.S. until her patron died and is Julia’s new assistant. I’m looking forward to she and Julia working together on cases.
Mirroring real events in history as Murdoch Mysteries does, not everyone is happy with the attention Julia is giving to an African American woman.
As for the rest of Monday’s episode, it’s much lighter in tone than last week’s swan song. There’s still a body count, but Carol Hay’s script calls for several light moments too, including the usual stuff from Crabtree and a couple of zingers from Julia.
And theÂ case of the week? A brilliantly twisted story based on an iconic piece of art you’ll have to see to believe.