There are actually two Murdoch Mysteries series – both are Canadian productions and both are based on author Maureen Jennings’ Murdoch Mystery Series. Both series are set in the late 1890s and feature a police detective (William Murdoch) – who is an avid reader of scientific findings and inventions. This entry will be about the Murdoch Mysteries television series, not the Canadian made-for-TV movies.
Murdoch’s interest in modern (for the times) theories enables him to make gadgets that help him solve cases. He is years before his time… in some cases, over one hundred years before his time. Murdoch makes gadgets that are quite similar to today’s – a “circumscope” (periscope) using opera glasses, a lie detector using who knows what types of tubes with blue liquid, etc. There are many sly references to today, as well. Sergeant George introduces Murdoch to a very new beverage -coffee. Murdoch states he doesn’t see coffee as something that will catch on, when they already have tea.
Not only is Murdoch ahead of his times. Apparently the entire police force is made up of very modern thinking men. They totally accept the beautiful female forensic pathologist. And, the female doctor is also way ahead of her time: She speaks easily about finding sperm in a corpse, and uses a substance very close to today’s Luminal.
The first Murdoch Mysteries series was a movie series… sort of like the old movies-of-the-week. The second Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian CityTV television series. This television series stars Yannick Bisson as Inspector Murdoch, Hélène Joy as Dr. Julia Ogden, Jonny Harris as Constable George Crabtree, and Thomas Craig as Murdoch’s boss. (Thomas Craig is a stand-out for me.)
I first started watching this Murdoch Mysteries series after I watched the original series. The first “movie” series was grittier and less obsessed with what I will call “the forensic gross-out” details. Since the first series was from 2004 and this one is more current (four years later) I will blame this on shows like CSI Miami, CSI Anchorage, CSI Topeka, in short, CSI!
I guess you might call these Murdoch episodes sci-fi mysteries. You have to “go with it” >>> These are not for everyone. And, of course, what Victorian, sci-fi mystery would be complete without real historical characters? Enter Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Prince Alfred, Buffalo Bill Cody, Nicola Tesla, etc..
I have to admit that I found the previous Murdoch Mysteries series of movies more believable. This series stars Peter Outerbridge as Murdoch, Colm Meaney as his boss, and Keeley Hawes as the doctor. However, as I stated above, they are grittier.
PS>>> I have not read any of Maureen Jennings’ Murdoch Mysteries. This television series does show certain biases, which for me, is not a problem. I am able to just “go with it” and totally disregard the “politically correct” views the series clearly endorses. I do not know if Jennings’ mystery novels do the same. Also, the show is named The Artful Detective in some areas, rather than the Murdoch Mysteries.
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