As a connoisseur of fine television, I arrogantly assumed I had a comprehensive knowledge of all the shows worth watching. Masterpieces of entertainment like Nero Wolfe, Jeeves and Wooster, Ellery Queen and David Suchet’s Poirot. But a couple months ago, I read a post on an Amazon forum for mystery lovers where someone recommended a little Canadian show set in Victorian times about a police detective solving crimes with revolutionary methods. I never heard of Murdoch Mysteries before and set out on an investigation to learn. I discovered this show hosted many of the actors from the revolving Nero Wolfe troupe – people who are just as famous in my house as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and William Powell. In addition, Murdoch Mysteries (like Nero Wolfe) is produced in Canada and even shares some of the same production team as Nero Wolfe. As an A-1 Nero Wolfe Nerd, I became obsessed with finding and watching Murdoch Mysteries, my expectations of it rising with every passing day. I began visiting the Netflix page as part of my Check Email-Check Twitter procrastination routine.
And then, one day about two weeks ago, Netflix magically added the first season to instant. As if the great Netflix programmer just woke up that morning and decided to make my life. After whizzing through the first season of episodes, loving them more than I ever could have foretold and being left with no more to watch, I remedied my Murdoch withdrawal with the purchase of the second and third seasons. I’m now a full-fledged Murdoch fan. And I aim to make each of you fans, too. Here’s why:
#1 – Yannick Bisson as Detective Murdoch
You will be hard pressed to find a better looking man, honestly. Yannick tops Richard Armitage, Matt Bomer and Niall Matter in my estimation (not to say I’m reneging my feelings for any of these lovely fellas…). I’m shocked he’s not more famous, just for this alone. But he’s not just a drop-dead gorgeous guy. His portrayal of Detective William Murdoch is heartfelt, honest and wildly appealing. He balances a character who is both a devout Catholic and a Renaissance man. Murdoch reads extensively both on scientific and literary topics, utilizing his enormous range of knowledge to solve complex crimes in the Toronto area. He pioneers new methods of detecting such as “finger marks,” blood type matching and phone call tracing. And even with all this, he is soft-spoken but not a sap, confident but not conceited and always stands up for what is right. The ultimate hero.
#2 – The opening theme
This is one of the best opening themes ever created. It’s a terrific tune, the visuals are impeccable and it sets just the right mood for every episode. If I had a cellphone, this would be my ringtone.
#3 – Thomas Craig as Inspector Brackenreid
Thomas Craig is a delight as the crusty but loveable Inspector Brackenreid, Murdoch’s boss. His colorful phrases are my favorite part of his character. “Oi, Murdoch!” “Bugalug” and “Me ole muckers!” have already entered into our family lexicon – always uttered with the proper accent, of course.
#4 – Jonny Harris as Constable Crabtree
Constable Crabtree is Murdoch’s sincere and adorable sidekick. Crabtree’s main ambition is to become a great detective like Murdoch and he never misses an opportunity to throw out a hilarious wild theory. Though Brackenreid has a low Crabtree tolerance, Murdoch often finds Crabtree’s crazy revelations helpful to cracking a tough problem. In the episode called Belly Speaker, Crabtree’s reaction to a ventriloquist’s dummy calling him “Crabby” is hilarious!
#5 – Helene Joy as Dr. Julia Ogden
Dr. Julia Ogden is the coroner in Toronto – a lady coroner, no less! She’s a strong, capable, brilliantly smart woman with a keen eye for foul play. If someone was murdered, you can bet she’ll find out about it. Her quirky personality adds a fun element to an otherwise serious character. My favorite quirk is how she plays gramophone records of popular songs in her mortuary as she conducts autopsies. She is often described in the show as Murdoch’s equal and the two have a somewhat rocky romantic relationship. Dr. Ogden often gets drawn in on Murdoch’s cases because she has connections to the upper crust of Toronto. Her style is inspiring my thoughts about my fall wardrobe, particularly the long, slim skirts and her soft braided hairstyles.
Are you convinced yet? Check out Season 1 on Netflix Instant. The other seasons are available on DVD from Netflix. And, if you are one of the incredibly lucky people who actually lives in Canada, you can watch Season 4 in its entirety on the CityTv website. Get watching!