Tag Archives: Yannick Bisson

Review: Murdoch Mysteries frees Crabtree

All right Murdoch Mysteries fans. I think we all knew Constable Crabtree wasn’t really guilty of killing Archibald Brooks, but who did it and why were the questions I had bugging me all summer long. And, judging by the tweets I read with #freeCrabtree attached, I wasn’t the only one.

Those questions were answered during “Nolo Contendere,” Monday’s Season 9 premiere where Crabtree was exonerated, Murdoch got hit on the head and Emily planned her exit from Toronto in favour of London with Lillian. Turns out it was Simon who’d shot Archie, and he and Edna escaped Toronto for parts unknown, breaking Crabtree’s heart in the process.

“Nolo Contendere,” which is Latin for “I do not wish to contend,” began dourly, with Crabtree and former Chief Constable Giles wiling their day away in the prison yard. The murder of a fellow inmate named Foster who’d warned Crabtree people were looking for Edna got the copper’s mind racing. Who was looking for Edna and why? (I’m always amazed the way TV shows can transform a space to suit their needs, and MM is no exception, turning an old mill site in Guelph, Ont., into the Don Jail Crabtree and Giles rotted away in.)

Peter Mitchell and Paul Aiken’s script quickly shifted to the city as Murdoch and Higgins visited Edna’s old apartment, the site of a burglary. That visit, a chat with Crabtree and a slug to the back of the head later and Murdoch was untying a knot of evidence involving a raw diamond, assumed identities, bicycle grease, roquefort cheese and murderous army buddies.

I wondered how the writers would return Crabtree from a detective—and leaving Station House No. 4—to a constable, and they did it in an ingenious way. As Giles stated, Crabtree’s “Nolo Contendere” plea meant he wasn’t guilty of the crime and it closed the books on the case. Sure, he’s got to work his way back up to being a detective, but at least he’s allowed to be a copper.

And, really, that’s all fans care about, right? What did you think of the episode? Comment below or via @tv_eh.

Notes and quotes

  • It only took Murdoch and Julia one scene to get smoochy with each other, something Hélène Joy told me would be a common occurrence in Season 9.
  • I got a distinct Red and Andy vibe from Giles and Crabtree, didn’t you?
  • “I knew there was a reason I married you!” Judging by the way Hélène Joy reacted, I’m pretty sure that line was ad-libbed by Yannick Bisson.
  • I loved how Crabtree used his fellow inmates’ against one another to find out who killed Foster.

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


Interview: Murdoch heads to Manhattan

Murdoch and Julia’s wedding ceremony was pretty unorthodox–they almost skipped the whole thing to solve a crime–so it really should have come as no surprise that their honeymoon would veer off the beaten path as well.

“Murdoch Takes Manhattan” found the pair embroiled in a plot to assassinate President Teddy Roosevelt in New York City while back home Brackenreid and Emily were tasked with solving the murder of a man found run over on a Toronto street. Not to be outdone, Crabtree, Higgins and Jackson invested in a car and tooled around the city on a quest to impress. The offbeat, more lighthearted episode contained some very funny moments, including what may be the most outrageous case of double entendre ever used on Murdoch Mysteries, and uttered by the show’s normally staid lead character.

I spoke to Simon McNabb, the episode’s writer, about everything that went down.

How did you decide to have William and Julia go to Manhattan for their honeymoon? Was that figured out in the writers’ room or when you were writing the script on your own?
Simon McNabb: The idea of William and Julia going to Manhattan was something that came out of the writers’ room. Obviously we needed to do something that was exciting, unusual and something they had never done before for their honeymoon and we wanted to do something a little more grand than going to a nice hotel in downtown Toronto. New York seemed like the place that two cultural people of that era would go if they were taking their first vacation together. The step in the thought process was, ‘OK, how do we do it?’ So we came up with something that was set in their hotel. A bit of a Manhattan Murder Mystery scenario.

Because William and Julia were in Manhattan, that left Brackenreid and Emily to solve the “hit and walk” crime. That was a nice change of pace, especially their dialogue. He’s the old guard and she’s the new.
SM: The advancing of society and social mores is something that the show has always dealt with but it’s something that we’re really tackling a lot this year. You’re going to see that even more as the Suffragette story that we introduced in the two-part premiere advances this season. We’ve been cognizant of keeping that alive throughout. In terms of the characters, I love it when we put Emily and Brackenreid together because they are complete opposites. Emily is the most progressive and youngest of the clan, and Brackenreid is sort of the one character who is allowed–because of his gruff affability–to embody what most people at that time actually felt. He’s the guy who gets to say that women shouldn’t be driving, that things are better when left in the hands of a capable man. And when you throw one of our more progressive-thinking, feisty characters up against that I think it’s a lot of fun and does allow us to make a bit of a commentary on the time and how far things have come.

Putting Crabtree, Higgins and Jackson in that car together was brilliant. It made total sense that these three would buy a car together and hope to appear cool.
SM: That was an idea that came out of the writers’ room as something fun that we wanted to do. Something that had to do with a road trip; how much fun would that be? So when that idea was first batted around we didn’t know how it would fit or if it would even be a case. Maybe it would just be a fun C-story jaunt. We weren’t really sure. At some point the idea of carbon monoxide as a murder weapon came up and that’s when it all kind of tied together. The road trip would become an element of the case.

Sudz Sutherland is no stranger to Murdoch Mysteries. He’s directed several episodes. What does he bring to the table directing an episode like ‘Murdoch Takes Manhattan’?
PM: Sudz is fantastic. He’s a unique director and a unique talent. He directed the wedding episode as well. The way we work is that we shoot two episodes simultaneously, going back and forth from scene to scene. He had his work cut out for him because they’re both big episodes. He has a great sense of humour and is incredibly funny. He knows what the jokes are and where they all are and he also knows where to let his actors play. We have a cast, to a man and a woman, who can be very funny. He also identifies humour in spots where maybe you don’t write in on the page, just in a passing background actor or in a performance from a day player. Casting had a lot to do with it, but finding the bellboy brought a lot of energy and humour to  that storyline. When I wrote it, I thought the road trip would be hilarious but I didn’t think of the other storyline as being particularly comic, but Sudz found a lot of humour in the Manhattan Murder Mystery storyline as well.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 1.08.31 PM

Yannick doesn’t really get to flex his comic muscles that much. Murdoch is supposed to be fairly stoic, so to see his facial expressions in that scene with the bellboy was hilarious.
SM: Because we have a main case of the week that Murdoch has to solve, usually when we have the chance to do something funny and fun and light it ends up in a B-story and in someone else’s hands because Murdoch is busy solving a crime, which is a murder and usually pretty serious. So in this episode, although there turns out to be a murder in it, he doesn’t know there’s a murder at the beginning of it, so there is this framework that he and his wife are off on this fun journey together. So it opened up some more comedic things to do with him. Everyone in the writers’ room is acutely aware that Yannick can be very funny and he nailed it with his reactions. He always delights us, usually with his reactions to Crabtree. In this episode we got to do more of it and he ran with it.

That leads into my favourite line of the night, but before we get to that, can you tell me who wrote the following lines from the episode? ‘Drunken stupor.’
SM: Drunken stupor came from our showrunner, Peter Mitchell.

‘Beside driver.’
SM: That was me.

‘Ontario is ours for the discovering.’
SM: That came out of the fact that we’re doing a behind-the-scenes series sponsored by the Government of Ontario, so that came out of the writers’ room somewhere. I don’t think it was my idea. But whoever said it, it was very funny.

And finally: ‘It’s so big, but it goes in quite easily and reaches into the perfect spot.’
SM: [Laughs.] Yes, that was Mr. Yannick Bisson. That scene in particular was when he was able to run with the comic vibe of the whole storyline and started ad-libbing. I was not on-set for the entire shooting of the scene and he may have consulted with Sudz Sutherland a little bit, but I do know that it didn’t come out of my script or the writers’ room.

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


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.


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.


Set visit and video: Murdoch Mysteries tightens up for Season 8

Yannick Bisson may look stern in the above photo, but he’s anything but that on the set of Murdoch Mysteries. The veteran actor was almost constantly smiling when the cameras weren’t rolling during an on-location shoot in Dundas, Ont.

The small town has hosted CBC’s hit time period procedural several times during production on Season 8, and Monday’s saw the cast and crew squished into the confines of a bridal shop on the main street for filming of “The Devil Wears Whalebone.” The pink-tinged business had been turned into the site of a fashion show boasting the latest advances in corset technology. Lithe ladies glided by during rehearsals and several takes under the watchful eye of director Eleanore Lindo and director of photography Jim Jeffrey.


Kari Matchett (Heartland, Blue Murder) guests as corset seller Heloise Kramp, whose exclusive, groundbreaking design of women’s undergarments leads to a heinous crime. I, along with folks from Murdoch’s production company, Shaftesbury, watched rehearsals and takes as Matchett, Bisson and Jonny Harris rolled through their lines as Heloise, Det. William Murdoch and Constable George Crabtree. I’ve posted a rehearsal take below; it always cracks me up that Bisson tops off his period costume with modern running shoes and only wears dress shoes for wide shots.

Production ran smoothly throughout the day, pausing at one point when blackout curtains on the outside of the bridal shop–the scene was taking place at night–came loose and let sunlight into the room. Most of these folks have been working together for the last eight years, so they’re quick to joke or poke fun at each other; everyone came by to wish Harris a Happy Birthday and tease him about his advancing age.

Look for a feature story on Season 8 in the coming weeks.


Murdoch Mysteries returns Monday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. ET on CBC.