Since challenging myself back in January to watch a new-to-me mystery show every other week, I’ve discovered and enjoyed 12 detective series so far in 2020. When July came around, I started wanting to spend more time watching some of my old favourites rather than constantly watching something new. I also realized that although I have watched many detective series in the past, I haven’t actually written about many of them on this blog. So for the next little while, I’m going to focus on writing reviews/summaries of shows I’m already familiar with.
Following my binge of the Aurora Teagarden mysteries, some of which featured Yannick Bisson, I’ve decided to get back into watching Murdoch Mysteries. I watched the show more regularly during its early days, and I’ve caught occasional episodes since. Prior to writing this post, I watched/re-watched the entirety of Season 1.
Murdoch Mysteries is based on a book series by Maureen Jennings, and was commissioned after a few TV movies based on the books proved successful in 2004. The first season aired in 2008, and there have been 13 seasons produced since with a 14th season coming in 2021. [Note: On some US channels, the show aired under the title “The Artful Detective“.]
In Murdoch Mysteries, Yannick Bisson plays Detective William Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary. The series is set in Toronto (Canada), with the events in the first season set in approximately 1895. There are a number of viewers that this show will appeal to.
First, if you’re a history buff, or even if you’re into the steampunk genre, you’d enjoy the historical references and anachronisms. The show brings together historical facts about life in Toronto as well as historical figures at the time (several episodes feature Nicola Tesla and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and often gives them a slightly modern spin. Murdoch frequently makes use of new inventions and devises novel methods for solving crimes–inventions that reference modern technologies such as lie detectors and fax machines.
Second, as a Canadian (and Torontonian), I personally enjoy watching out for references to Canadian history, politics and geography. There are so few popular Canadian productions, so this show offers a rare exciting opportunity to understand all the references, rather than trying to make sense of the references in American or British media.
Finally, the show is simply enjoyable in its own right. It is one of the more cozy-style mystery shows that is in contrast to the usual gritty crime dramas being produced these days. And the relationships between the main characters are interesting beyond the investigation of a crime. In the TV series, Murdoch is assisted by a feminist medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden with whom he has a bit of a “will-they-won’t-they” relationship; his boss is the prejudiced Inspector Brackenreid; and he’s frequently assisted by the young and often fanciful Constable Crabtree.
If you’ve read the books, it should be mentioned that there are some differences between the novels and the TV series. The main one being that the TV series is a lot more light-hearted and almost comedic, whereas the novels can be much more dark and somber. And based on my description above, there are notable differences in characterization.
All in all, this is an enjoyable show for those who enjoy their mysteries to be served with a touch of humour.