Change has come to the Toronto, Ontario, police force where Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) uses technology and forensics to solve crimes ahead of the curve in the 1890s. While he still answers to Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) and finds assistance with the help of Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), his love and intellectual equal, coroner Julia Ogden (Helene Joy), has moved to the United States. This allows the drama to use Murdoch’s angst in new ways, and gives it the opportunity to let him travel, providing us a broader background for these strange and intellectually-challenging cases.
There are the usual number of cases (thirteen) here, with additional features like some behind-the-scenes bits and “love letters.” In high definition, everything looks better, right? Murdoch Mysteries is no exception, regardless of how far afield Murdoch travels or what special details are involved. American audiences will appreciate the well-traveled Victor Garber as a special guest, the man Murdoch replaced, while Canadians will no doubt recognize their prime minister, Stephen Harper, as a constable.
I was drawn into the world of Murdoch in the first season, with its blend of historical fiction, humor, and science. Three seasons later, the stories are still complex and require a Holmesian-like detective to unravel the truth. With the growing love for Sherlock, thanks to the Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr. versions, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to find that the Murdoch Mysteries are getting the Prime Suspect treatment, that is, an American remake. That would be somewhat unfortunate though, because Bisson’s charm, humor, and earnestness might not translate if someone else picked up his spot.
Whether it’s the mysteries, the romance, the humor, or the history that draws you in, there’s plenty here to consider. The show obviously has earned its fair share of critical acclaim, but to keep running with original content, there’s something pleasing for the public as well. While other shows (here’s looking at you, Midsomer Murders!) have to reinvent themselves or risk falling into a real rut, these mysteries are still running strong in a way that doesn’t rehash old material, but still challenges us to see the world as it really is, and embrace it with wide-eyed wonder.