Monday, April 9, 2012

Movie Monday: "Murdoch Mysteries"

"Murdoch Mysteries" is a Canadian television show set in Toronto in the late 1890s. It centers around Detective William Murdoch who solves crimes using new technological and forensic techniques that are the predecessors of our crime solving techniques today. The show has a decidedly Steampunk feel (Murdoch himself is a devotee of Nicola Tesla) and the period-appropriate costuming and makeup is a refreshing break from modern TV.

Detective Murdoch is an exceedingly sexy man who manages to balance a deep Catholic faith with a firm belief in the immutable facts of science and technology. He is quiet and melancholy, perhaps still in grieving for his fiance who died a year before the show takes place.
He is both intelligent and intuitive, a true Renaissance Man, and solves many of his crimes by relying on both fact and his personal feelings about the cases.

His boss, Inspector Brackenreid, is a blustery and violent Scotsman (stereotype anyone?) whose approch to crime solving is exactly the opposite to Murdochs: where Murdoch relies on the scientific method and experimentation, Brackenreid truely believes in the "strong arm of the law." However, he recognizes Murdoch's success rate in solving crimes, and gives him a pretty long leash to work in whatever manner he sees fit.

The city coroner in the series is a woman! Dr. Julia Ogden is a woman of science who is always interested in the newest medical and technological advances and who does not understand Murdoch's melding of faith and science. She is soft-spoken but witty, and her banter with Murdoch clearly reveals her feelings for him. Though the two are obviously attracted to each other (and in the first season he dreamed if passionately kissing her). I won't tell you if they ever get together, so you will have to watch the series for yourself.

Murdoch is assisted by the eager Constable George Crabtree, who idolizes Murdoch and tries to learn from his interesting investigative methods. While George appears to be a bumbling idiot, he is actually quite intelligent and helpful. He is a sort of "adorable geek" (to put him in modern terms) and is exactly the sort of young man you would want to bring home to the parents.

Also joining the cast occasionally are the minor characters of Arthur Conan Doyle (who compares Murdoch to Sherlock Holmes) and Nicola Tesla, both of whom set the series fully in a Victoriana/Steampunk atmosphere

The first season is available for viewing on Netflix. The show has just been renewed for a sixth season, so you can catch it on CBC soon. I can't find an American channel that re-airs the previous five seasons, but if you are a Steampunk or mystery fan or both, I recommend ordering them through Barnes & Noble. They are worth it.


The Lonely Alchemist

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