Category Archives: Telly

Treats for the mystery lover

Netflix just added two shows to streaming that will make for a perfect week-end of whodunit happiness for the British mystery fan.

campion

Campion stars effervescent Peter Davison as the eccentric, unpredictable and brilliant high class detective. Bored with his life of ease as a gentleman (what young man in the 30s wasn’t?) he chooses a colorful alias and embarks a new life of crime solving. His sidekick/man servant Lugg (played by Brian Glover) often gets stuffed into roadster rumple seats with the luggage, but does his best to protect Campion on his crazy adventures. I sought this show out after falling for Peter Davison in All Creatures Great and Small and wasn’t disappointed. Be on the lookout for several alumni from classic British television. Gordon Jackson, Ian Ogilvy (Mr. Hudson and Lawrence Kirbridge of Upstairs, Downstairs) and Iain Cuthbertson (Doctor Gillespie of Danger UXB) all make appearances in some of the episodes.

Campion: 2 seasons, 16 episodes on Netflix

inspector_alleynThe Inspector Alleyn Mysteries are completely new to me. Having them pop up in my Top 10 Recommendations has been the highlight of my week. There are only 6 episodes, but each are about 1 1/2 hours long and worth every moment. Based on the stories by Ngaio Marsh, Inspector Alleyn (Patrick Malahide) is one of the most un-detective like detectives I have ever seen. Soft spoken, calm and unassuming, he glides his way through high society quietly gathering clues from the upper crust. Even his “Ah HA, you are the murderer!” scenes are almost completely devoid of the dramatics we tend to expect. My favorite aspect of the show is Agatha Troy (Belinda Lang), Alleyn’s lady friend. Troy (as she is addressed by one and all…) holds her own with the good detective, feeding him clues about cases she is involved in and often providing vital pieces of information that solve the crime. She is a well respected artist and one of the episodes revolves around a recent string of forgeries of her work. Best of all though, every episode is packed with beautiful, inventive clothes (including that famous Miss Lemon sweater) and impeccable late 40s hairstyles. I wish I could screencap every second! Extra special guest stars include John Gielgud, Geoffrey Palmer, Tom Wilkinson and Elizabeth Spriggs, who fans of Midsomer Murders will recognize as the bizarro Iris Rainbird from the first episode.

Inspector Alleyn: 2 seasons, 6 episodes on Netflix

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Oi, Murdoch!

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!

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