The onset of a new season of any established show inevitably brings with it a million questions for hardcore fans, and this year’s Murdoch Mysteries opener is no exception, to say the least.
Who lives? Who dies? Who tells their story?
Sorry about that last one; my daughter is the ultimate Hamilton acolyte and her rabid zeal is infectious. But returning to the matter at hand, last year’s MM season finale upped the narrative stakes (big time) and propelled the show into a brand-turn-of-the-century-spanking new genre: the edgy period crime procedural drama.
Yes, it’s a mouthful. Just go with it.
And now let’s go with the flow and get to the actual review, shall we? Advance press revealed that Insp. Brackenreid survived (though whether or not Thomas Craig will have a bigger role this season is still up in the air) and you know that The Artful Detective himself, Yannick Bisson, made it through (duh) but how did everyone else fare?
We’ll see, won’t we?
ONE) That familiar tune… My grandfather used to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Of course, he also used to say, “Going to the store on the corner, be back in a minute!” And then we’d have to hop on a bus two days later to retrieve him from a downtown hotel where he’d always smell of vodka and dead dreams. My childhood rocked, didn’t it?
But back to the MM opening theme; in a world that’s changing by the nanosecond it’s nice to be able to enjoy a sense of continuity,isn’t it? The Murdoch theme holds nothing but memories for me (some bittersweet) and it never fails to touch my heart. There aren’t many pieces of music I can say that about.
TWO) I love seeing Murdoch behind the eight ball. Let’s face it, we love Detective William Murdoch, we want him to have a happy marriage and existence… but adversity is the fire in which our heroes are truly forged. Season 11 opened with William mourning his fallen allies – while partially answering the queries we’ve all been pondering this summer – Slugger Jackson (WHY!!!) and Constable George Crabtree, burning with rage over his missing spouse, Julia, and superior officer, Brackenreid. Oh, and let’s not forget about the impending murder charges and his lack of options.
And I thought I had a pretty lousy summer. Murdoch’s been sitting in a jail cell for three months with only Det. Watts’ weak reassurances to keep him from sliding into total despair. And speaking of Daniel Maslany…
THREE) Watts is the Sheldon Cooper of Canadian television. You may be laughing (hopefully) but hear me out; the good detective is an eccentric – to say the least – who isn’t very well-versed in social skills but is a genius with a good heart. Sound familiar?
Much has been made of Watts’ role as Jackson’s “replacement” but Kristian Brunn’s stock has risen considerably since Orphan Black so I can understand why Peter Mitchell decided to bench Slugger permanently. Lucky for all of us, Detective Watts has enough untapped potential to last another eleven seasons. And Maslany’s semi-regular status brings us to my next point…
FOUR) My, how Murdoch Mysteries has grown. A show that debuted with a core cast of a gifted, ahead-of-his-time detective, a gruff, hard-drinking inspector, a wacky constable with an over-active imagination and a hot, spunky female coroner more than a decade ago has evolved to include another detective, the inspector’s wife, another wacky constable, another female coroner, a gal reporter, a burlesque dancer with a heart of gold and even a rotating cast of recurring guest stars.
Yes, that paragraph was as overloaded as the MM cast itself – but that was exactly the point. Fortunately, Murdoch’s status as an ensemble is its greatest strength these days.
FIVE) Secrets and lies. Everyone seemed to be hiding something from everyone else in this premiere but that just added to the tension, mystery and drama. The writers outdid themselves in terms of drawing all the disparate storylines together before bringing the cast together again to shout, “Avengers Assemble!” or at the very least, the turn-of-the-century equivalent.
SIX) George Crabtree lives! Was there anyone out there who actually thought Jonny Harris was moving on as well? Okay, so maybe some of you did, but in the end, seeing William show more joy at realizing Crabtree was alive than he did at seeing his wife and the Inspector was worth the price of admission alone.
The greatest bromance on TV is alive and well.
SEVEN) Toronto the Good is still Toronto the Crispy. Seeing that the rebuilding process is still going on was a nice touch. As was seeing Higgins briefly. And seeing Hodges. In fact, from Miss Marsh’s “good guy” reveal to Miss James’ heroism, this opener was overloaded with little touches that, when combined were brilliant.
EIGHT) Murdoch’s Legion of Doom was a worthy successor to James Gillies. Granted, it took Councilman Williams, Robert Graham and Chief Constable Davis to equal one young criminal mastermind, but the results were must-see TV.
NINE) Unanswered questions. Is George back with Nina for good? What will Miss Cherry do about that? What about all the crooked coppers who killed Jackson and wounded Higgins and Crabtree? Will William and Julia’s dream house ever come together?
All these queries and more will be answered (maybe) this season, friends.
TEN) This show is in no danger of jumping the shark. Seriously, MM could go another ten years easy, that’s how well-written and acted this show really is. Yannick Bisson is the most blessed actor on Canadian television and his good fortune is all of ours.
I love when that happens.
In short, this season looks like it’s going to edgy, epic and ever-evolving. And we can look forward to some more cool historical figures (at least one of whom we’ve seen before) including… well, I can’t say anything yet, but trust me, I’ll be featuring a closer look at one future guest star soon. In the meantime, enjoy Murdoch Mysteries Season Eleven, my fellow Murdochians.
See you in the lobby and on the CBC, kiddies…