WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ME: I am a white, Canadian male in his forties who has never been arrested. (Doesn’t mean I’ve never committed a crime, though.) And above all, I love my family… and Murdoch Mysteries.
How much do I love MM? I insist my wife begin every lovemaking session with “What have you, George?” That’s how much I value the integrity of this program.
And now, let’s put this list to bed, shall we?
48) Murdoch Mysteries is heading into SEASON NINE. This show’s a contender.
47) My late-father-in-law (more on him soon), used to watch this show at least three times a day. If it was being broadcast, it was on in our home – and we’ve never grown tired of it.
46) MM may be the most interactive show in television history. The MM geniuses actually created an episode outside of an episode, The Infernal Device. Part web mystery, part live-action adventure, The Infernal Device lured fans away from their screens and out into the so-called real world. It was an absolutely clever and unforgettable multi-media experience.
45) My recent visit to the MM set allowed me the rare opportunity to observe Insp. Brackenreid himself, Thomas Craig, in his fake/natural environment, and I have to tell you, he was glorious. There he stood, radiant in the midday sun, his forehead glistening as he greeted fans. A Murdochian minion approached him with a bottle of water and I’ll never forget his bellowing response:
“WHAT’S THIS? I DON’T WANT HIS! I WANT A BEER!”
He then proceeded to beat the subordinate with a rolled-up script, thus reaffirming his dominant status in the MM hierarchy. Granted, I’ve exaggerated this tale somewhat. (I tend to do that.)
It was a pint he requested. He is British, after all.
44) The ridiculously talented and cute Arwen Humphreys plays Brackenreid’s wife, Margaret. Mrs. B is the prototypical wife: well-mannered and overflowing with social graces in public and naughty in the boudoir – and even in her husband’s office on occasion. The turn-of-the-century minx.
43) Dingoes have never stolen a baby on the set of MM. I don’t know about you, but I sleep better at night knowing that.
42) Murdoch is no Dark Knight Detective (he’s much more lighthearted), but he does have his own Joker. Portrayed by the incomparable Michael Seater, James Gillies is a criminal genius/scumbag and prides himself on always being one step ahead of our intrepid hero. Seater burns up the screen with wild abandon.
41) The brilliant Peter Stebbings is James Pendrick, a recurring character. Pendrick is an inventor ahead of his time – with the worst luck ever. His wife was a con artist. He was swindled out of the electric car biz. He had to destroy his flying machine before it fell into the wrong hands. I thought my life was complicated…
40) Thomas Craig was on Coronation Street. You may be giggling right now, but Corrie rocks. You either get it or you don’t. Period.
39) Nikola Tesla has appeared. How cool is that?
38) Constable Henry Higgins is the most unassuming police officer you’ll never notice. He means well, but he’s the Charlie Brown of Station House Four. He’s brought to glorious unassuming life by Lachlan Murdoch. No he’s not related to that Murdoch…
37) In real life, Arwen Humphreys smells like boyhood fantasies come to life. And for some reason, nutmeg.
36) MM has won a butt-load of awards. You gotta respect that.
35) The themes of personal honor and friendship are paramount on Murdoch, something I respect, especially when one looks at some of the dreck on television today.
34) Chief Constable Giles, as portrayed by character actor extraordinaire, Nigel Bennett, is menacing, powerful and ultimately, a tragic figure whom Det. Murdoch is forced to send to prison for conspiring to cover up the death of a fellow officer years prior. Giles was a thorn in Murdoch’s side throughout the series’ history but even Murdoch couldn’t help but feel shattered when it was revealed Giles was a homosexual who was being blackmailed by said fellow officer. What else can I say? Bennett is a remarkable actor.
33) Constable John Hodge. A man of great honor who appeared throughout MM until it was discovered he murdered a fellow constable to prevent Chief Constable Giles, a detective at the time, from being blackmailed. I’m not ashamed to admit my heart broke for Hodge. Brian Kaulback is also a remarkable actor – with the coolest muttonchops since Wolverine.
31) “Bollocks!” Another great catchphrase, courtesy of Brackenreid. It’s dirty but not dirty enough to get you into real trouble in North America.
30) MM has been on for nine seasons and yet, the characters haven’t just aged, they’ve evolved. Brackenreid has been beaten down, inside and out and emerged stronger. Det. Murdoch finally got laid. Julia Ogden has switched professions at as time when it was unthinkable for a woman to do so and in the process, discovered her place in the world. Crabtree became a writer and maybe even a detective in his own right. (His fate is still very much up in the air.) And Dr. Grace? Well, she’s the subject of this next entry…
29) Murdoch Mysteries may be on the CBC, but fortunately, the CBC has never been afraid to shine a light on mankind’s darkest corners. Case in point: Emily Grace is a progressive gal who isn’t afraid to let George Crabtree know she’s interested in him. A dalliance with a cad ended that relationship, after which Emily wrapped herself in the Suffrage movement, a move that led her to a young lady named Lilian Moss, with whom she fell in love, reluctantly at first and then head-on (so to speak) after much soul-searching. This direction is going to lead to some brilliant/controversial storytelling, no doubt.
And real world change. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
28) As a bellman I’ve met thousands of people from all walks of life, some of whom are more willing to open up to a stranger than their own families. Shortly after Dr. Grace came out on Murdoch, I met a young lady with whom I struck up a lengthy conversation – that led to a revelation: she had decided to come out to her family after watching Georgina Reilly do so on MM. A mere TV show inspired this girl to take control of her life and reveal her true self to her family, regardless of the consequences.
Just think about that for a moment.
Done? Then we’ll continue.
27) MM may be a decent honorable show with a strong moral center, but that doesn’t mean it’s staffed by monks…
26) Slugger Jackson. He’s really Kristian Bruun. He’s on Orphan Black. He rocks.
25) MM shoots on a back-lot in Toronto but they also shoot scenes all over Ontario – and even England once – thus supporting dozens of local economies. Don’t these guys rock?
24) Murdoch Mysteries is known as The Artful Detective in the United States. As a lifelong comic book geek I love the whole dual identity thing.
23) In addition to their tireless social media onslaught, the MM production team manages to find time to hold an annual Murdoch Mysteries Fan Day. Fans were able to tour the sets and back-lot, and meet the cast and crew. Demand was so high this year they had to add a second day. It was a religious experience, kiddies.
22) During Fan Day the MM crew gave out bottles of cool, refreshing H2O to thirsty/sun-stroked fans like yours truly. Most crews would have delighted in seeing fans drop like flies, but not the MM gang.
21) The MM crew is comprised of some of the nicest, coolest, only mildly frightening individuals I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. Every single one of them is approachable and willing to share their wisdom and experiences.
20) As a comic book geek, I love crossovers. And so I was in Heaven when Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle teamed up for “Republic Of Murdoch.” On MM, the great, great, great grandfather of private eye Jake Doyle crossed paths with Det. William Murdoch in 1901, and, later, young Bill Murdoch, the great, great, great grandson of the famed detective, headed out to The Rock to aid Jake Doyle in the present day on Republic of Doyle. CBC awesomeness. Times two.
19) Even recurring guest-stars like Peter Keleghan got in on the action during MM Fan Day, showcasing their “serious side”.
18) One of the most underrated actors of all time, Victor Garber, (Alias, Argo, etc.), appeared as Murdoch’s predecessor. He knocked it out of the park of course.
17) Yannick Bisson considers himself a mere cog in the machine, but there’s no denying his brilliance as Det. William Murdoch. It may be a cliché but it’s true: this is the role he was born to play.
16) The unimaginably funny Sean Cullen once hammed it up to Shatneresque levels as a cycling coach/con artist. Funny stuff, kids.
15) Nine seasons in and MM remains one of the CBC’s mostly highly rated programs, bringing in 1.4 million viewers every week. Without using zombies, gratuitous nudity or any of the usual tricks.
14) The MM team manage to transform a back-lot on Eglinton Avenue (Sullivan Studios), into early-century Toronto every week. When you tour the set and see what they actually have to work with, you are amazed beyond words.
13) One lucky fan from each of MM’s Fan Days won a walk-on role. That was unbelievably cool and gracious of the MM team, no?
Not to worry, folks, I didn’t win, so there’s no chance your television sets will explode…
12) Before the weekly series was born, three television movies, Except the Dying, Poor Tom Is Cold and Under the Dragon’s Tail, aired in 2004. (They rocked, by the way.) Peter Outerbridge was William Murdoch and he even appeared last season alongside his successor.
11) The show has great tie-in swag.
10) I don’t know about you, but I’m knackered! Are we there yet? (I know what my wife is going to say when she reads this. “Boy, that sounds familiar!”)
9) Det. Murdoch invented Silly Putty. You’re welcome, kids.
8) Det. Murdoch’s chalkboard is as much a part of the show as any of the characters. An old school Mac used to great effect.
6) The MM cast once appeared at Fan Expo, one of the coolest comic cons of ’em all. I love Fan Expo.
5) MM once did a zombie-episode-without-actual-zombies. Hey, it made sense at the time.
4) I have to give Yannick Bisson props for being bilingual. I can barely manage one language…
3) Bat Masterson once appeared on MM. I love the Old West.
2) Aaron Ashmore guest-starred as Jack London.
1) My father-in-law John Fisher, the greatest man I ever knew, passed away in March after battling emphysema bravely for five years. He lived with us during that struggle and in that time he watched an incalculable number of Murdoch Mysteries episodes.
This is why the show means so much to me. There were days Dad couldn’t summon the strength to rise from bed. The darkness of those days was lessened by the light Dad derived from watching Yannick Bisson and company bring Det. William Murdoch and his world to life. Dad was an old school gentleman who sometimes felt lost in a modern world. Watching the world as it used to be put him at ease.
When Insp. Brackenreid was nearly beaten to death by dockside hooligans during an unforgettable season finale, Dad lost it once he realized he’d have to wait an entire summer to see “Brik ‘n Brak’s” ultimate fate.
“What do you mean we have to wait until September to see what happens? You mean he has to lie there all summer? That hardly seems fair!”
I sat with Dad for thirteen hours the day we lost him and among the maelstrom of thoughts racing through my mind that day, one kept recurring…
“Murdoch just won’t be the same without Dad.”
In spite of that, I’ll never stop watching Murdoch Mysteries. Simply put, it isn’t just a TV show in my house.
It’s a way of life.
See you in the lobby, kids.