on December 26, 2008
Three television adaptions of Maureen Jennings' Victorian William Murdoch novels were so successful, the broadcaster (CITY television in Canada, UKTV in Britain and Granada International) commissioned a full fledged 13 episode series. 14 Gemini award nominations for season one led to the series being renewed for season two.
This collection of episodes from season one has some stellar performances. Thomas Craig as Inspector Brackenreid, Helene Joy (Gemini award winning actress) as Dr Ogden, Jonny Harris as Constable Crabtree, and Yannick Bisson as the handsome and dapper Detective Murdoch, will provide hours of great entertainment and suspense.
Standout episodes in season one include an adaptation of the novel Let Loose the Dogs, Elementary My Dear Murdoch (which features Arthur Conan Doyle), The Glass Ceiling, The Annoying Red Planet, and the touching Child's Play. Highly recommended.
on June 15, 2009
Set in 1890's Canada, Murdoch Mysteries Season One is a four-DVD thinpack set collecting the first thirteen episodes of this popular mystery series following Detective William Murdoch (played by Yannick Bisson), a sleuth whose genius leads him to discover and use modern techniques such as "finger marks" to catch criminals. His antagonistic boss (Thomas Craig) derides his methods at every turn, but he has willing allies in a beautiful pathologist (Gemini-winner Helene Joy) and an intrepidly inquisitive constable (Johnny Harris). Famous brilliant minds of the era also make appearances, such as Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Prince Alfred. Based on the hero of the enjoyable and widely beloved Murdoch novels, Murdoch Mysteries Season One is an excellent adventure sure to please mystery fans, and is especially notable for winning two Geminis and being nominated for twelve more. Special features include episode commentary by stars Yannick Bisson and Jonny Harris, production designer Sandra Kybartas, and executive feature Cal Coons; interviews with the author and cast; a photographic gallery; cast filmographies; and brief cast biographies. 598 minutes, 16:9 widescreen, subtitles.
Poor William Murdoch. Will he ever get a fair shake in the casting department? He's a police detective in a number of turn-of the-century mysteries set in gas-lit Toronto written by Maureen Jennings. They are good books, well written, detailed and intricate, and Murdoch is a fine protagonist. He's reasonably well educated, worked rough before he became a policeman and is a Catholic in a very Protestant town which has a largely Protestant police force. Murdoch is convinced that beating a confession out of a suspect -- the usual way of solving a crime -- is not as effective as using deduction and the new scientific methods that are being talked about. He's thoughtful, sincere and shrewd. He's not the most popular copper at his station, but he grudgingly earns the respect of his superior and most of his colleagues.
The Murdoch Mysteries is the second attempt by Canadian producers to bring Murdoch to television. The first consisted of three 90-minute programs based on three of Jennings' books. Murdoch's impostor didn't look much like Jennings' description but he was a skilled actor. It all started well but quickly drifted down into melodrama, with Murdoch in the third program involved with a loving street prostitute. With that highly unlikely development, not in the books, the axe came down on the show.
Murdoch Mysteries showed up a couple of years later. It's a conventional television approach with thirteen one-hour mysteries in a season, with two seasons finished and production started on the third. My impression is that the television producers and writers are caught between trying to bring Murdoch and his times to life and having a hit in the ratings. The series, considering that no one in their right mind on this side of the Atlantic is about to spend the kind of budget the BBC used to on production values for a series, looks good enough to be satisfying. The pressure of cranking out 13 mysteries a year is evident in stories that don't leave much time for character development or in plotting mysteries that are complex and don't cheat. The squalor and social injustice Maureen Jennings writes about are largely missing. The writers try for humor by frequently having Murdoch, who loves to apply science to solve crimes, make innocently ironic comments about how such and such an advance - the auto, ballistics, alternating current - might or might not be good for future generations. It's a bit of shtick that wears thin.
The weakness, for me, once more lies in the casting of Murdoch. Yannick Bisson is an extremely handsome actor who got his start doing television commercials and then moved into acting. He's 40 but looks younger, with eyes that probably make his lady fans swoon. His eyebrows sometimes have a life of their own. He's not a big man and he has a somewhat light voice. He can play serious but there's not a great deal of gravitas about him. Don't get me wrong; he's not a bad actor. But Murdoch requires a fine actor who can combine thoughtfulness, curiosity, some quiet humor and authority. He's also a man who can handle himself well in a brawl. Bisson, whose career has mainly been in television, reminds me of all those interchangeable and handsome Hollywood television actors who luck out in popular series. He's better than they are, but he doesn't carry much actorly weight.
If you like historical mysteries, I recommend trying out this series. It's nowhere near as gripping and detailed as, say, Holmes and Poirot. It doesn't have the character development and cleverness of Marple. The programs are a pleasant way to spend an hour at home. By all means, however, get the books and really delve into the crimes and squalor of William Murdoch's world of murder and injustice.
The season one and season two sets contain 13 episodes on four discs in each set.
on October 31, 2009
While the movies were better than the series; this series is alot of fun and is worth watching. The plots are logical and not dumb as some have stated. I enjoyed every minute of this show and I am glad to see it come back for a second season. The historical guest 'stars" like Tesla and Sir Arthur conan Doyle make for even more fun. It's great to see a show this well produced and featuring a long ago time period that may have some historical inaccuracies but not overly so. We need more period dramas out there and it's a great thing to see a very good one on television being produced somewhere and in english. So I would say that any fan of dectective series that take place in the past should enjoy this show. It's fun to just sit back and take in the atmosphere. I don't think the leads acting is terrible either , he comes off as brainy and restrained and that fits the character. So this show is worth adding to your mystery collection if you are a fan of period mysteries.
on June 29, 2009
By chance I purchase the Murdoch Movies..and found them interesting and enjoyble...CSI in 1890 Victorian years....
Was surprised to learned that this had been made into a series...with a new cast of actors...with my interest peeked...I purchased the set...what a pleasant surprise...all episodes interesting and enteraining....My favorite episodes were with Murdoch and Arthur Conan Doyle..playing off on each other...Also, enjoy the sparks from Murdoch and the good doctor...(not many woman doctors back then or in the field.)
Have read there is a season 2..Will be waiting impatiently for that season to be release....since this program in not found on USA channels..
on October 12, 2013
After finding the first episode slow moving and not very interesting, I watched 3 more to see if I just picked a bad episode and so I didn't make a judgment about the series based on just one episode.
I'm puzzled about the rave reviews. Yannick Bisson is a pretty face but it's hard to know whether the writing is as flat as it seems or Bisson just isn't a good actor. The anachronisms are irritating, and the stories are uninteresting and without the elements which make a CSI/police type drama appealing. Worse, Det. Murdoch too often looks confused, like he doesn't understand what's going on. His empty look & frequent loss for words are embarrassing.
The story is supposed to hold your interest, but I found myself glancing at the clock to see how much time was left. The dialogue is silly and amateurish. Even considering the era in which the drama takes place, the characters, the plot, and the dialogue & relationship between characters feels unreal, not credible.
As an aside, if you are offended by the idea of 2013 standards of morality & political correctness in a show which takes place in 1895, you'll want to pass on this show. I may get clobbered for that cautionary note, but it's my opinion. The P.C. drop-ins are contrived and are not things which characters in that era would have said or done.
Murdoch Mysteries may be considered a success based on being around for 7+ years, but I'm not impressed. Perhaps I'm just not part of the target audience, and we do have different tastes. But the absence of dramatic substance and good writing & character development makes Murdoch Mysteries not worth my time.
on June 19, 2009
Based in 1890s Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the 13 episodes of the critically-acclaimed first season of this Victorian-era mystery series - with bonus features - clocks in at nearly 600 minutes.
The episodes chronicle the exploits of inventive Detective William Murdoch (portrayed by Yannick Bisson) and his unique vision to think outside the box while solving crime in the nick of time. To give special flavor to the era, historical figures like Prince Alfred and Arthur Conan Doyle make appearances, but the costumes and settings bolster the sweet story lines and solid acting.
The bonus features are the typical kind - episode commentary, interviews, photo gallery - though the angle provided by production designer Sandra Kybartas is very interesting. Do not be surprised if the hours fly by as the sleuthing heats up as Murdoch and his colleagues play their old school version of "beat the clock."
This series stands apart from any other series I've watched in that it uses more general science in solving the mysteries. Detective William Murdoch, played by Yannick Bisson, has a strong interest in the scientific approach and uses his interest and ability to look at crime from a different perspective which amazes his associates.
The acting is sufficient and the scenery is interesting as well as the characters encountered in the stories. Episode 1 for example introduces the viewer to Nikola Tesla and refers to the great debate over direct current versus alternating current.
If any of the children in the family have an interest in science this series could well generate curiosity about science and promote research into the topics referenced.
I found that I wanted to do some research on the early development of electrical distribution in the USA and Canada. It was interesting to read about Tesla and his efforts with George Westinghouse and their importance in making electrical grids operational.
In addition to their stimulating content they're also fun to watch and are generally family friendly. I recommend them highly.
Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) has a face like George Clooney & bikes around Toronto looking like a Wright Brother.
MURDOCH MYSTERIES is now among my favorite TV mystery series.
The opening set, props, & costumes, including Murdoch arriving on his 2-wheel safety bicycle, immediately transforms the viewer to Victorian days of Toronto. Filmed in Toronto & Hamilton, Canada.
Murdoch seems to have the fortune to be on hand when technological advancements are made, or scientific discoveries are born. With a bit of tongue-in-cheek, these astonishing breakthroughs assist Murdoch's investigations.
Waiting for the next bit of gadgetry is as exciting as watching Murdoch and Toronto's 4th police station solve crimes. These murders carry with them the occasional scenes that cause mirth, smiles, and laughs. Many of today's routine crime investigation techniques were originated, or at least often used, by Murdoch. Such as fingermarks, time line analysis, ballistics, lie detection, etc.
13 46-minute Episode details:
1 POWER Miss Toronto Elec. & Light gets electrically struck down. Who? Why?
2 GLASS CEILING A trunk delivered to Station #4 contains a body. Will the inspector be next?
3 KNOCKDOWN A black boxer is shot. Murdoch must clear the wife & find the true killer.
4 ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR MURDOCH A medium tells Murdoch where a body is buried. Sherlock Holmes creator, Doyle, assists this search.
5 TIL DEATH DO US PART Wedding day death in the church office. Inheritance? The intended bride? Murdoch reveals much.
6 LET LOOSE THE DOGS Pub argument precedes a death. Murdoch's drinking dad? What's the truth about Murdoch's mom?
7 BODY DOUBLE A theater stage catches a body dropping from the ceiling. Not part of Macbeth. Facial reconstruction helps as did finding the hidden......
8 STILL WATERS Just prior to Olympic Trials a rower is dead. Coach & rower who was replaced are suspect, but they're just the beginning. A funny lie detector scene with Murdoch attached.
9 BELLY SPEAKER Murder by varnish drinking. Who dun it? The belly speaker, ventriloquist, or the dummy? The story takes a twist, after a twist, after a twist. A stellar episode.
10 CHILD'S PLAY Industrialist murder, a supporter of homes for orphans.
11 BAD MEDICINE This killer is robed, hooded, and shoots crossbow. Robin of the Hood? A medium sees all, including Murdoch's future death.
12 THE PRINCE & THE REBEL Grandson Prince Alfred (Queen Victoria's) gets Murdoch and Crabtree as guards. A dead girl, a tattoo, and suddenly the Irish Republican Brotherhood are suspect. Is the Prince in danger?
13 THE ANNOYING RED PLANET A suspect suicide hanging in a tree with no footprints below. How? Crabtree suspects Martians. Who or what was the killer?
One of the best. Suspenseful yet light at moments. Fun viewing.
SUBTITLES INCLUDED. Also bonus stuff about author, cast, bios, & other films.
I'm VERY GLAD I got this set.
on December 31, 2011
It's a modern TV show but has the flavor of something made decades ago. It's kind of an Agatha Christie meets Rockford Files meets Wild Wild West type deal. Most episodes hinge around some technology or something else that wouldn't have been unheard of at during that time period, but would have been cutting edge or even theoretical in practice. It's a little corny sometimes, but still entertaining.
I first checked it out because it was mentioned as being kind of "steampunk" and I guess it fits that genre to greater or lesser degrees at times. It's also an odd mix of British and American being set in Canada.
I found it entertaining enough to buy it as gifts for my mother and a couple others. If you've read this far, you're at least curious so why not give it a shot!