I’ve been enjoying a Canadian series on television that’s certainly not new (it’s on something like season 11), but it’s new to me. Set in the 1890s Toronto, Murdoch Mysteries features a bright young detective who solves gruesome murders using tactics from the field of forensic science, still in its infancy–techniques we take for granted today, like fingerprinting.
I must admit, I don’t enjoy “gruesome,” and the term is apt in many episodes. However, the stories are well told, the solutions are interesting and keep me guessing, and the characters are well established and mostly likeable. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is a serious, even brooding detective, an Irish Catholic recovering from a past heartbreak. Medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy) is, somewhat conveniently, a woman, equally bright and more than able to stomach the morgue procedures she performs with relish. There are hints of a budding romance between these two (no spoilers, please–obviously I’m not very far along in the series yet). Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) veers between doubt and awe at Murdoch’s unconventional methods. Bumbling constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) has the wide-eyed clumsiness of youth, but is a good-hearted chap, eager to be of service and learn the ropes from his mentor.
What else I like: The series mixes in real history, like storylines involving Nikola Tesla and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is fun. And of course I love seeing the detailed settings, costumes and props depicting Toronto in the late-Victorian era.
I understand Murdoch Mysteries is based on a series of novels by Maureen Jennings. I must seek them out.