Murdoch Mysteries Series 4 PREVIEW

Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris), Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Insp Brackenreid (Thomas Craig). Pics: Alibi

Rating ★★★

Alibi, Tuesdays, 9pm, from 15 February

The modern-day obsession with gory forensics and series such as CSI and the UK’s Silent Witness is filtered into a late-Victorian makeover for Murdoch Mysteries. The setting is Toronto and William Murdoch, played by Yannick Bisson, is a pioneer in the then new detective sciences, but apart from these features this routine police procedural breaks little new ground.

In fact, it’s so familiar as the type of standard crime show and TV movie mystery you see on Sunday afternoons that, if the lab scenes were toned down a bit, it could have been made any time in the last 40 years. But if you like decent, gentle costume mysteries, then this is a fair cop.

What’s new at the start of series four is that Murdoch’s love interest, pathologist Dr Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), has cleared off to Buffalo and a new job.

Body hacked to pieces

In spectacularly brusque recap, she tells puppy-dog faced Murdoch, ‘It’s clear to me how much you want a family. But my abortion left me sterile.’ How about that for getting to the point. She’s on the train before gormless Murdoch can summon the words, Don’t go. However, my crystal ball (aka the Alibi website) tells me she will crop up again during this series.

Anyway, there’s no lady action for the detective as the first grisly case of the series comes Murdoch’s way, that of a body hacked to pieces, set in concrete and left by the Don River. Instead, Murdoch has a new male colleague to rub along with – the ill-tempered Dr Francis (Paul Rhys, seen recently in the BBC’s Luther), newly arrived from Scotland Yard.

The new coroner insists the body parts are from one victim. Murdoch secretly sends Dr Ogden some of the evidence, and she says there are three victims and most likely one killer. The victims turn out to be an unknown man with gout, a syphilitic ex-con, and Duncan Burnside, Toronto’s citizen of the year. So, Murdoch must work out what connects them.

Yannick Bisson
Some familiar faces from UK television will appear during this series in addition to Paul Rhys, including Lisa Faulkner (New Street Law) and Simon Williams (Upstairs Downstairs).

It’s a shame that Yannick Bisson as Murdoch is such a blank page, who – à la Roger Moore – tends to express himself with one eyebrow. When you’re acted off the screen by a former Coronation Street regular (another Brit, Thomas Craig, as Murdoch’s boss, Insp Brackenreid), then you know a bit more effort is needed.

Alibi, the crime channel, brags that Murdoch Mysteries ‘continues to push the boundaries of crime television’. You don’t need to be a top detective to spot that this statement would be called perjury in any court.

Still, these mysteries, based on the series of novels by British-born Canadian Maureen Jennings, are fun and the historical setting is interesting. And there is even an added bit of emotional intrigue thrown in. The series finale will include a wedding – but who will be strolling down the aisle?

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    So far I’ve seen two episodes of season 4 and miss Dr Ogden terribly. Season 4 was pushed back from March and didn’t start until June. After waiting all that time I was disappointed with the first episode. It felt listless and the new coroner is no fun whatsoever. I do hope things pick up. Looking forward to episode 3 where Murdoch goes to Buffalo and sees Julia.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I did think the last episode pushed boundaries – the theme and info in there very timely and needed to discuss. Excellent.
    Has Julia left the series for good? Oh i really hope note – that dynamic was a key factor in its depth and charm.

  3. I’m sure Dr Ogden will return….
    Helene Joy’s name is still in the opening credits

  4. Anonymous says:

    can’t wait to see what happens with Julia and Murdoch, she’s now engaged to be married and betrothed just turned up and she decided to stay in Toronto. I’m in Australia, has anyone seen any more episodes and if so, what happens?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I miss Dr. Odgen

  6. Charlotte says:

    Me too. The ongoing love-story between William and Julia is every bit as interesting as the mysteries that absorb them, and watching them solve crimes together is one of the best things about this show. You might have to go all the way back to William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man mysteries to find anything comparable. Not forgetting Inspector Thomas Brackenreid and Constables George and Henry! These five, along with well-chosen guest stars and the Victorian setting, make Murdoch Mysteries an excellent show that our whole family enjoys.

Leave a Reply