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Fine Tuning: Murdoch Mysteries

Melissa Hank Postmedia News There’s something charming about Murdoch Mysteries.
The new season of Murdoch Mysteries „ the Canadian police series set a century or more ago „ kicks off Sept. 30.

Melissa Hank

Postmedia News


There’s something charming about Murdoch Mysteries.

The Victorian-era police drama is low-tech in an age of high-tech, more demure than your average shoot ’n’ splatter cop show, and certainly the most meticulously costumed of the bunch.

It’s the difference between Audrey Hepburn and the latest troubled starlet of the week — and you never have to worry about a nip slip to boot.

Shuffled in 2011 from City to CBC, the homegrown series now has a little extra hustle in its bustle. Whereas City had bounced it around the schedule in summers and cancelled it after Season 5, CBC aired the next two seasons in the higher-profile fall and winter.

And the gamble paid off. More than 1.2 million Canadians tuned in to the sixth season each week, making Murdoch one of the top-rated Canadian shows on TV. As a reward, CBC ordered a super-sized Season 7 debuting this fall, with 18 episodes instead of the traditional 13.

“I feel like the girlfriend that got dumped and then got married to a surgeon,” headliner Yannick Bisson summed up to TV Guide Canada in January. No kidding. And maybe she treated herself to a little makeover, too.

In Season 6, the set expanded from its base in a Toronto suburb into a 360-degree downtown Toronto town square, which allowed directors to shoot from multiple angles, and instead of straw being scattered in the streets, hand-painted cobblestones lend an authentic air.

Starring Bisson as intrepid Toronto detective William Murdoch, the show has always incorporated historical events and characters into its storylines. Over the years, we’ve seen Buffalo Bill Cody, H.G. Wells, Nikola Tesla, and Winston Churchill (played by Downton Abbey’s Thomas Howes), among others.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper even guest-starred as a cop who didn’t recognize former prime minister Wilfrid Laurier in the police station.

The coming season of Murdoch Mysteries will debut on Sept. 30 and feature the assassination of U.S. president William McKinley, as well as potential visits from Queen Victoria and Thomas Edison.

If longtime fans have their way, it also could herald a genuine love relationship between Murdoch and Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy, who was so engrossing in Durham County). The two have shared an obvious chemistry from the start, and circumstance after circumstance has kept them apart.

The first of tonight’s repeat offerings — on City, incidentally — is Downstairs, Upstairs, in which a wealthy man is found face-down in his breakfast. Unwilling to accept that one of the man’s children or his wife is the culprit, Murdoch sets his sights on the household’s maids, many of whom had been dismissed for having “loose morals.”

Later in the evening comes the episode Monsieur Murdoch, in which Murdoch meets Det. Marcel Guillaume, the man who inspired Inspector Jules Maigret, the famous fictional French character featured in 75 novels and 28 short stories.

It’s a bit of sly storytelling — Murdoch Mysteries is based on Canadian author Maureen Jennings’s Detective Murdoch mystery novels. How’s that for a case of history repeating itself?

6 and 10 p.m., City

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