Sunday, 8 February 2009

Murdoch Mysteries

The newish crime drama TV channel Alibi has contacted a number of bloggers, including me, with information about an interesting offer linked to their series ‘Murdoch Mysteries’, series two of which opens on 10 February. To celebrate the launch, they say they are ‘giving you and a friend the chance to win tickets to a special preview screening in London.’ It’s hosted by Thomas Craig, with champagne on arrival

Yannick Bisson and Alastair Mackenzie star alongside Craig in this series, based on novels by Maureen Jennings. Set in Victorian Toronto, the show follows the exploits of detective William Murdoch ‘who brings evil to justice and solves some of the city’s most gruesome murders thanks to the new science of forensics.’

I watched one episode of the first series – it featured Arthur Conan Doyle (who rather to my surprise didn’t have a trace of a Scottish accent) and had various Holmesian references. I thought it an okay whodunit, not exactly 'Taggart' at its best, but a series I’d certainly look at again.

Anyway, the prize on offer includes a pair of tickets for you and a friend to a special preview screening of 'Murdoch Mysteries' on Thursday 19 February 2009 at the Covent Garden Hotel, London. The winners will arrive at 6:30, and will be offered champagne (or a soft drink, if your drinking tastes are not typical of many of my friends in the crime fiction world!). Thomas Craig will also be there to introduce the episodes and afterwards you will get the chance to ask questions to the man himself.

There are 20 pairs of tickets available, so for your chance to enter simply click here: Competition

Entrants must be over 18, see the competition entry page for full terms and conditions. The competition closes on 12 February and the winners will be notified within 24 hours.

I must say that, if I were not too busy to make it, I'd be very interested in this. The last event of a similar nature I attended was years ago, a preview of 'Dalziel and Pascoe' - the first episode featuring Warren Clarke and Colin Buchanan - and it was a hugely enjoyable occasion.

9 comments:

Iden Pierce Ford said...

Hey Martin,
which episode did you see with ACD?
Was it Elementary My Dear Murdoch, the one about the psychic, or Belly Speaker?
Elementary was a terrific episode, Belly Speaker was a bit more plot challenged.
Just curious.
And by the way, the episode with Alistair Mackenzie in it, and most of season two is quite different from season one. There is more of a story arc going on over the season with regards to relationships in the series, especially with Murdoch and a couple of love interests.
I'm sure you would enjoy it.

Martin Edwards said...

Hello, Iden, thanks for the comment. The episode I saw was the one about the psychic.

Iden Pierce Ford said...

I think the biggest frustration both Maureen and I felt when the producer was asked by the broadcaster to produce a whole series rather than continue the adaptations (Keeley Hawes, Colm Meaney, Peter Outerbridge MOWS that were 2 hours in length each) of her novels. The meant in Canada a full fledged 13 episode series was going to be one hour per episode, which created time constraints upon the writers.
The broadcaster wanted each episode to have a crime, and have the detective and his team solve it in 46 minutes (1 hour with commercials).
So what gives under the circumstances? Plot? Character?
There would be no two part episodes in the series.
Except now in Season two there is a 5 episode arc with one of the new characters this season and her relationship with Murdoch. She is a character out of the novels, Enid Jones and her son Alwyn.
We loved this about season two.
However, regardless of the challenges, there were some entertaining episodes in season one that earned the show 14 Gemini Award nominations, which are Canada's Bafta awards for television.
It is very hard for a writer to see other writers take their characters and invent stories about them that bear little relationship to the novels.
That said, the writing team consulted Maureen often, and when they did, and used her input, the got better scripts.
So we await the verdict from the fans on season two.
I have high hopes for it and highly recommend tuning in.
Let me know what you think if you get a chance to see Alistair and some of season two.
Thanks Martin for the plug
Iden

Mike Tooney said...

Martin:

About this show one blogger, Diane Kristine, writes:

"My biggest complaint, though, is that Murdoch is something of a dud, taking a passive role in his own series so far. The show's time period could be an advantage to the series, offering a Sherlock Holmes style of intellectual investigation as opposed to the flashy technology of the glut of crime shows currently on the air."

(http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/01/19/1502422.php)

Descriptions of this show, with its Victorian milieu and emphasis on crime solving, remind me of a Canadian series starring Douglas Campbell called THE GREAT DETECTIVE:

"This Canadian detective series is about a Scottish policeman in the Victorian era who moves to Toronto to care for his orphaned niece and ends up becoming Canada's first real detective. It is based on the book 'Memoirs of a Great Detective' by Canada's actual first detective, John Wilson Murray, who was appointed to Ontario's Department of Justice in l875."

(http://www.tv.com/the-great-detective/show/11925/summary.html)

I missed most of the episodes, but a few linger in the memory: at least two locked-room mysteries and one involving some real mystification when an entire railroad car goes missing while the train it's attached to is in constant motion. A very clever series, THE GREAT DETECTIVE.

Mike

Martin Edwards said...

Iden and Mike, thanks for this info. I haven't heard of The Great Detective before. Perhaps I missed it, or maybe it's never been shown in the UK. Did it ever make the transition to DVD, I wonder?

Mike Tooney said...

Martin:

As far as I can tell, THE GREAT DETECTIVE is not available on DVD. I watched it on A&E, recorded a few episodes on VHS, and lost them all, alas.

Some of the shows were what could be called "thrillers," but there was always an abiding commitment to the puzzle plot/whodunnit mystery.

Mike

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Mike. I'll keep an eye out for them in case they appear in future. Did you ever see the UK series 'Detective'? It was wonderful, but seems to have vanished from the collective memory.

Iden Pierce Ford said...

Yes well Mike . . c'mon a blogger and that is your bible of critiques?
John Doyle of the Toronto Globe and Mail, the harshest tv review critic in Canada said this:
Spinoff detective series is smart, fast-paced fun
Toronto Globe and Mail

TELEVISION: PERIOD DRAMA: MURDOCH MYSTERIES
Spinoff detective series is smart, fast-paced fun
JOHN DOYLE
jdoyle@globeandmail.com
E-mail John Doyle | Read Bio | Latest Columns
January 24, 2008


In the past few weeks, we've been introduced to a great many new characters - cop types, lawyers, hot hockey wives, a whiny talent agent and a small army of ruggedly handsome Coast Guard fellas and their troubled but totally hot female colleagues. Me, I really, really like Tabbi on MVP, because she's so much fun, but I've just met a new favourite - one Constable George Crabtree of the Toronto Police circa 1895.

Murdoch Mysteries (CITY-TV, 10 p.m.) is where you'll find Crabtree. He's a rum chap, polite and terrifically enthusiastic about new things, like electricity and the newfangled forensics that another chap - that would be Detective William Murdoch - is using to solve crimes. Crabtree's a Newfoundlander, I suspect, and the actor who plays him, Jonny Harris, starred in Hatching, Matching & Dispatching.

Anyway, Murdoch Mysteries is a series spinoff from the three TV movies based on the historical detective novels by Maureen Jennings. The TV movies, which featured Peter Outerbridge as Murdoch, moved at a stately pace and late-19th-century Toronto looked just lovely. (The movies were made in Winnipeg while the series is mostly filmed around Hamilton.) The TV show is more fast-paced and fun.

The gist is that Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is a go-getter on the stuffy Toronto Police Force. He believes in using science to solve crimes. This usually irritates his gruff boss, Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), but intrigues pathologist Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), who becomes his essential sidekick. Crabtree just happens to come in handy but also happens to steal the scenes.

The nifty part of the series is the sense of humour and cheerful sense of time and place, without getting all Masterpiece Theatre about it. And, of course, there's a mystery to be solved. Tonight's opening episode involves electricity. One form of electrical current is being demonstrated in public (a dog will be electrocuted and that brings out angry members of the Toronto Humane Society) and things go awry. What happens is that the newly crowned Miss Toronto Electric and Light meets an untimely end.

Soon enough, Murdoch is poking around the case and has much interaction with a certain inventor, Nikola Tesla (Dimitry Chepovetsky, doing a lovely turn) whose alternating current system is at the heart of some controversy. The use of the Tesla figure is shrewd as it sets up all the points needed for the series - in 1895, the world is changing and some are at the forefront, while others foolishly resist change. Murdoch is not exactly Gil Grissom of CSI, but the use of the science-and-technology angle is very well crafted.

Murdoch Mysteries - tonight's episode is written by R.B. Carney and directed by Farhad Mann - is charming entertainment, sweetly satisfying and undemanding, but clearly not made with an airhead audience in mind. Bisson is good as Murdoch, a stiff fellow in many ways, and yet cutting-edge when it counts. But that Constable Crabtree, he's a caution. A scene in which he calls on a lady is absolutely priceless.

Iden Pierce Ford said...

Okay this is a comment from Diane Kristine's blog posted today under
Responses to “Murdoch Mysteries season premiere March 4”
Bud says:
February 8th, 2009 at 11:12 pm
I can’t believe what a quality series this is, and that it’s such a well-kept ’secret’ at CITY-TV. We have absolutely NO reason to watch this station, other than to catch the Murdoch Mysteries. They should be promoting this gem bigtime.