Murdoch Mysteries Season 3
Recurring character(s): Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris)
Original air date(s): 02/16/2010 to 05/11/2010
DVD Date: 05/03/2011
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 624 minutes
Note(s): Characters adapted from the series of mysteries by crime novelist Maureen Jennings.
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Review: Murdoch Mysteries is set in late 19th century Toronto, when old-fashioned police work solved more crimes than forensic analysis of victims and crime scenes. At least as far as modern crime dramas go. Yannick Bisson stars as Detective William Murdoch, an intelligent, methodical man who goes about the business of solving crimes mostly by asking questions and deducing the solution from the answers -- or in some cases, non-answers -- he receives in return. The previous season relied a lot on guest appearances by famous men and women and on new-fangled inventions and techniques to move the storylines along; this season is far more plot-centric, with solidly written episodes that focus more on the "dunits" -- who, how, and why -- than on the gadgets themselves. (Though they're present as well; don't miss Constable Crabtree's dreams of a "potato cooking room" to be built into future homes on the episode that features microwaves!)
The core cast works well together, each with their own defined roles, and is a pleasure to watch. Murdoch's superior is Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), a man more of action than of thought, in direct contrast to Murdoch himself. Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) is the go-to guy to get things done, while Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy) is Murdoch's intellectual equal, often providing the key evidence needed to solve the crime. It's a cohesive group of characters that seems to enjoy each other's company and it comes across in the show.
I've previously commented that Bisson plays Murdoch as a character who seems perpetually bemused. Having never seen Bisson in anything else, it's hard to tell if this is simply his acting style or if the portrayal is intentional. This season, though, Murdoch is slightly more animated; there are actual displays of emotion on rare occasions. I understand he's supposed to be this Spock-like character, detached from his environment so he can devote his considerable intelligence and deductive ability to solving the crime at hand, but it gets a little monotonous after a while. My only other minor complaint is the frequent use of a hand-held camera; since there isn't much action built into the scripts, I suspect the dizzying movements of the camera are meant to simulate activity. Note to director: tone it down a bit!
Murdoch's romantic relationship with Julia develops further this season -- no sure thing given how events played out in the previous season -- and the final episode is an especially poignant one. But wait! There is an alternate ending to the final episode in the extra features. Make sure you see it; you'll likely vote for it over the one actually broadcast and hope that it serves as a transition to the fourth season, which will begin airing in Canada later this month.
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