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): 02/15/2011 to 05/10/2011 DVD Date: 05/29/2012
Rating: Not Rated Running Time: 598 minutes
Note(s): Characters adapted from the series of mysteries by crime novelist Maureen Jennings.
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Review: Forensic Sleuthing in the Age of Invention is the subtitle for the Canadian historical crime drama Murdoch Mysteries, which just concluded its fourth season of 13 episodes in June. I am not aware of any US network, broadcast or cable or even online, that airs the show.
This crime drama is based on a character created by mystery author Maureen Jennings, who featured the Toronto detective in a series of mysteries published between 1997 and 2007. Yannick Bisson stars as William Murdoch, an inventor — or maybe just a clever innovator — as much as he is a police officer. Most episodes feature some sort of newfangled device or technique that Murdoch has developed, all of which aid in his solving the crime of the episode.
The scripts are well written, some quite original but many having familiar plotlines though with a minor twist or two to keep them interesting.
Those who have seen the previous seasons of the series know that Murdoch's love interest is Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), the city's medical examiner. In an effort to keep this review spoiler-free, let's just say that at the end of Season 3 Ogden left to take a position with a children's hospital in Buffalo. She makes only a handful of appearances in the first few episodes of this season, but does return to Toronto by the fifth episode … though also engaged to be married. In one episode featuring a visiting French detective, he suggests that Odgen's engagement is ideal: Murdoch can take her as a mistress without all the obligations that come with marriage. The straight-laced Murdoch is horrified at the thought, but in a brilliant bit of acting on the part of Yannick Bisson, you can see that he's briefly considering it in the back of his mind. Crime dramas that feature star-crossed lovers as a running subplot — and there are plenty of them — tend to get tiresome after a while, but so far Murdoch Mysteries is handling this element quite nicely.
The character who gets some of the best lines is Murdoch's boss, Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig). Brackenreid is an old-fashioned cop, act first, consider later, but has come to respect Murdoch's methodical approach to crime solving. In one Agatha Christie-style episode, Brackenreid walks into Murdoch's office to find him writing on a very large blackboard.
Brackenreid (with a bit of a sigh): "Oh good, a chart." Murdoch: "Sir, in a case with ten suspects careful organization is paramount." Brackenreid: "I'll make a note of that."
The fourth main character is Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), who is constantly trying to rework their cases as fictional storylines for a crime novel he wants to write.
I enjoy this series and believe it deserves a wider audience. I was a bit dismayed when I learned Citytv would cancel the series after its fifth season, but CBC stepped up and renewed it for a sixth season.