Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian television drama series aired on both Citytv and CBC Television (formerly titled The Artful Detective on the Ovation cable TV network) featuring Yannick Bisson as the fictional William Murdoch, a police detective working in Toronto, Ontario, around the turn of the twentieth century. The television series is based on characters from the Detective Murdoch novels by Maureen Jennings.
|Based on||Characters from novels|
by Maureen Jennings
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||12|
|No. of episodes||189 (including 3 specials) (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43–46 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||January 20, 2008 –|
|Related shows||Except the Dying|
Poor Tom Is Cold
Under the Dragon's Tail
The series takes place in Toronto starting in 1895 and follows Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) of the Toronto Constabulary, who solves many of his cases using methods of detection that were unusual at the time. These methods include fingerprinting (referred to as "finger marks" in the series), blood testing, surveillance, and trace evidence.
Some episodes feature anachronistic technology whereby Murdoch sometimes uses the existing technology of his time to improvise a crude prototype of a technology that would be more readily recognizable to the show's 21st-century audience. In one episode, for instance, he creates a primitive version of sonar to locate a sunken ship in Lake Ontario. In still another, a foreign police officer has a photograph that Murdoch needs as evidence, so Murdoch asks the other officer to overlay the photograph with a grid numerically coded for the colour in each square, and to transmit the numerical data to Murdoch via telegraph—with the end result that the foreign officer has essentially sent Murdoch a bitmap image they call a "facsimile"—a telefax. This aspect of the show has been described as introducing elements of the steampunk genre of science fiction, although it is not a standard theme of all episodes.
Detective Murdoch is assisted by the three other main characters: Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), Doctor Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), and the inexperienced but eager Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), who aspires to be a mystery novel writer. Brackenreid, Murdoch's immediate superior, is a blunt and sceptical Yorkshireman with a fondness for whisky who prefers conventional methods of detection over Murdoch's eccentric methods, though he is typically pleased and proud when Murdoch is successful despite the odds. Crabtree is often unable to grasp the more advanced methods, but his enthusiasm and loyalty make him a good assistant. Like Crabtree, Dr. Ogden is a great supporter of Murdoch's methods. Her skill in pathology usually helps by revealing a great deal of useful evidence to aid Murdoch in solving cases. Throughout the series, Murdoch's growing infatuation with her, and his inability to express his feelings, provide a light subplot. In the fifth season, after Dr. Ogden is married to Dr. Darcy Garland (a colleague she met in Buffalo), a new doctor is introduced, Doctor Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly). She and George Crabtree show some romantic interest in each other.
Real history is an important element in most episodes, and the plots, though fictitious, sometimes involve real people, such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, H G Wells, Nikola Tesla, Wilfrid Laurier, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Queen Victoria, Theodore Roosevelt, Oliver Mowat, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Henry Ford, Sir Winston Churchill, Bat Masterson, Alexander Graham Bell, Emma Goldman, H. P. Lovecraft, Harry Houdini, Thomas Edison and Helen Keller. Future events are often foreshadowed. For example, it is implied that secret British-American government co-operation has produced a highly advanced aircraft similar to an airship, and Crabtree and Murdoch allude to the building of a secret government facility in Nevada and New Mexico "at Concession 51" (an allusion to Area 51). Characters also refer to actual inventions of the 19th century and extrapolate from them to future inventions such as microwave ovens, night-vision goggles, computers, the games "Cluedo" (marketed as "Clue" in the U.S.) and "Hangman", the toy Silly Putty, and a silencer for small arms.
Another underlying theme of the series involves the fact that Murdoch is a Roman Catholic in what was at the time a predominantly Protestant city and the prejudices that he occasionally encounters as a result. Other subplots that overarch multiple episodes include women's suffrage in Canada, a movement that was taking place during the time the series is set in, and the discrimination towards racial minorities in Toronto at that time.
Murdoch Mysteries originally came to Canadian television in 2004 as a two-episode made-for-TV movie, starring Peter Outerbridge in the lead role. One episode was broadcast in 2004, and the other in 2005. Its original title at that time was Murder 19C: The Detective Murdoch Mysteries. In 2006, the TV movie was picked up for a thirteen-episode series, which would again star Outerbridge. But there were questions about Outerbridge's continuing availability, since he was already starring in another series, ReGenesis. By 2007, it was announced that Yannick Bisson would become the lead in what was now called Murdoch Mysteries. The new version of Murdoch Mysteries debuted on Citytv in late January 2008.
The program was well received, both by the audience and by the critics: in the summer of 2008, it was nominated for 14 Gemini Awards by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Critics were surprised, however, that Bisson was not among the nominees. The critics were also surprised in November when Murdoch Mysteries won only two Geminis.
Meanwhile, Murdoch Mysteries was renewed for 2009, and again in 2010. In 2010 the program, which had previously been filmed only in Canada, went to Bristol, England, to film an episode. In August 2010, it was announced that there would be a fourth season. One big fan of the show was Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who agreed to play a small role in one of that season's episodes. The episode in which he appeared, playing a "clueless cop who fails to recognize then prime minister Wilfrid Laurier," aired in late July 2011.
On September 27, 2011, Rogers Media announced that it would not be continuing the series beyond its fifth season. Then, on November 15, 2011, it was reported that CBC had picked up the show and ordered a sixth season, which premiered on January 7, 2013. On April 2, 2013, CBC renewed the show for a seventh season, with 18 episodes, which started on September 30, 2013. In April 2014, the show was renewed for an eighth season. On March 4, 2015, CBC renewed Murdoch Mysteries for a ninth season. It remains one of the CBC's most highly rated programs, regularly watched by more than 1.4 million viewers.
On March 31, 2016, CBC announced the tenth season of Murdoch Mysteries, ten days after the ninth-season finale.
On March 11, 2018 the show was renewed for a twelfth season of 18 episodes. Season 12 will air on Ovation starting April 20, 2019 for US viewers, but back under its original title of Murdoch Mysteries.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|TV Films||3||May 13, 2004||September 8, 2005||Bravo!|
|1||13||January 20, 2008||April 13, 2008||Citytv|
|2||13||February 10, 2009||May 27, 2009|
|3||13||March 14, 2010||June 13, 2010|
|4||13||June 7, 2011||August 31, 2011|
|5||13||June 6, 2012||August 28, 2012|
|6||13||January 7, 2013||April 15, 2013||CBC|
|7||18||September 30, 2013||April 7, 2014|
|8||18||October 6, 2014||March 30, 2015|
|9||19||October 5, 2015||March 21, 2016|
|10||19||October 10, 2016||March 20, 2017|
|11||19||September 25, 2017||March 19, 2018|
|12||18||September 24, 2018||March 4, 2019|
Murdoch Mysteries has, at times, been known for using stunt casting of famous actors or non-actor personalities in guest roles. Noted examples have included Stephen Harper, at the time the Prime Minister of Canada, in a small role as a police desk clerk; William Shatner portraying writer Mark Twain; a special Christmas episode which included appearances by Ed Asner, Brendan Coyle, Kelly Rowan and television news anchor Peter Mansbridge; an episode which featured David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario at the time of production, appearing as his own forerunner Oliver Mowat; and two different episodes in which former Dragons' Den investors Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton guest starred. Dickinson portrayed a business magnate named Miss Dickinson, and Chilton a character named Mr. Chilton (aka the "Wealthy Barber").
In 2013, Murdoch Mysteries aired a fictional crossover with another CBC Television crime drama, Republic of Doyle. With the two shows set over 100 years apart, Allan Hawco appeared on the November 25, 2013, episode of Murdoch Mysteries as Jacob Doyle, a 19th-century ancestor of his regular character Jake Doyle, while Bisson appeared on the January 29, 2014, episode of Republic of Doyle as Detective Bill Murdoch, a 21st-century descendant of Detective William Murdoch. The end of the latter episode references the previous episode.
Murdoch Mysteries was produced and developed by Shaftesbury Films in association with Citytv, ITV Studios Global Entertainment, UKTV and with the assistance of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, and the Canadian Television Fund. It features the distinctive theme music of the composer Robert Carli.
Prior to being picked up as a regular weekly series, three television movies, Except the Dying, Poor Tom Is Cold and Under the Dragon's Tail, aired on Bravo Canada in 2004. These films starred Peter Outerbridge as William Murdoch, Matthew MacFadzean as George Crabtree, Keeley Hawes as Julia Ogden, and Colm Meaney as Inspector Brackenreid.
Seasons one and two were filmed at the Toronto Film Studios facility on Eastern Avenue in Toronto. However, that facility was closed at the end of 2008, forcing the third season to be filmed elsewhere in Toronto, in the area near Kipling Subway to the west of the city.
For seasons one, two and three, filming locations included the Galt district of Cambridge, Ontario. Sidewalks and driveways were covered in earth, and in season one the Dobbie Mansion was used for about a week of indoor filming. Parts of the opening episode of season three were filmed in Bristol in England.
Shaftesbury Films announced in April 2010 that a fourth season had been ordered by Citytv and Alibi, with production scheduled to begin later that year. In August 2010 Shaftesbury Films announced that production on the fourth season had begun and was scheduled to continue through November 2010 with filming in Toronto and Hamilton. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper filmed a cameo appearance as a constable in the fourth season on October 15, 2010 when he visited the set with his daughter.
Filming of season five began in July 2011 and included a visit to Dawson City in the Yukon. On September 27, 2011 Rogers Media announced that they were not continuing with Murdoch Mysteries beyond the fifth season. In response to the cancellation of the series Christina Jennings, executive producer and CEO of Shaftesbury Films said:
We've watched the show grow with the passionate support of audiences in Canada and around the world, and look forward to bringing the storyline to a fulfilling conclusion for fans during our final season.
Murdoch Mysteries was described as an "odd fit" for Citytv's schedule, which consists of more contemporary, urban hip, imported programming. Shaftesbury's UK partners in the production of the series, British broadcaster UKTV and the international distributor ITV Studios Global Entertainment, were both interested in additional seasons. Christina Jennings approached Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of CBC's English services, about continuing the series, and she felt that "a home at CBC made absolute sense". Reports of the change of broadcasters and commitment for a sixth season appeared in the evening of November 15 with the press releases being issued on November 16. Production of the sixth season began in April 2012 to be ready for CBC in September 2012, but later the premiere for season six was changed to January 2013, and instead an encore of season five aired in September. Production of the 13th season started in May 2019 and will continue until November 2019.
In addition to the regular television series, several short run web series have also been created under the Murdoch Mysteries banner.
In 2011, Murdoch Mysteries: The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs debuted on citytv.com, blending live action and animation to depict a storyline in which Crabtree, Murdoch, Dr. Ogden and Inspector Brackenreid were forced to battle mummies who were attempting to kill Queen Victoria. The storyline of the webseries was also integrated into the regular television series; within the main television plot Crabtree, as an aspiring writer, spent much of the season working on The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs as a fantasy novel manuscript. The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs garnered nominations for Best Digital Program: Fiction at the 2012 Emmy Awards, Cross-Platform Project, Fiction at the 2012 Banff World Media Festival and Cross-Platform Project, Fiction at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards.
The 2012 season web series The Murdoch Effect featured a time travel plotline in which William Murdoch suddenly found himself transported to the 21st century, and had to solve a case with eerie parallels to one he was investigating in his own timeline.
The 2013 series Nightmare on Queen Street featured an interactive story in which the viewer was called upon to solve the case by piecing together clues from each webisode. This series also garnered a nomination for Best Cross-Platform Project, Fiction at the 2nd Canadian Screen Awards.
In Australia, Murdoch Mysteries airs on 13th Street Monday to Friday at 7:30 pm, with the latest series also airing at 7:30 pm on Saturdays.. In 2017, Channel 72 ran three episodes back to back every Thursday night commencing from 8.30 pm.
In the United States:
- Episodes of Murdoch Mysteries are broadcast on several networks, usually at night or early in the morning on weekends with some episode overlap. Digital subchannel networks such as Retro TV and NBC's Cozi TV subchannel, WFMZ-TV in the Lehigh Valley (PA) and WABC-TV (NYC) provide broadcasts at various dates and times.
- American Public Television acquired the first season of Murdoch Mysteries from ITV Global Entertainment in 2009 for broadcast syndication to public-television stations throughout the U.S.
- As of 2015[update], Seasons 1–6 are being streamed on the Hulu video, on-demand subscription service.
- In 2013, Acorn.tv began showing the first seven seasons on its online premium service and made Season 8 available in 2015.
- The series began airing on the Ovation cable TV network in 2013 under the title The Artful Detective. Starting with Season 12, the show will now go by its original name of Murdoch Mysteries on Ovation.
- Genesis International took over the rights to the Murdoch Mysteries series after they acquired the series from ITV studios Global Entertainment & American Public Television in mid-Summer of 2014 for Broadcast syndication to commercial television stations in the U.S.
- Amazon Prime made the series available adding season 8 in 2015.
- WEWS-TV airs the program Friday nights / Saturday mornings at 2:35 am.
Home video releases
Acorn Media has released ten seasons of Murdoch Mysteries on DVD and Blu-ray in North America and Australia.
ITV Studios Home Entertainment has released four seasons on DVD in the UK and has also released a box set of the seasons 1–3. Season 4 onward, are available through Amazon UK, but in Region 1 format only. The first seven seasons are available for home viewing via streaming from Acorn.
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Extras||Discs|
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season One||June 16, 2009||February 9, 2009||June 26, 2009||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Two||May 4, 2010||February 15, 2010||February 10, 2010||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Three||May 3, 2011||August 15, 2011||February 9, 2011||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Four||May 29, 2012||May 23, 2011||June 6, 2012||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Five||December 24, 2012
(direct from Acorn Media)
March 5, 2013
|May 6, 2013||August 1, 2012||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Six||November 26, 2013||January 18, 2016||August 7, 2013||N/A||4|
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Seven||October 18, 2014||April 4, 2016||May 14, 2014||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Eight||August 4, 2015||July 25, 2016||May 6, 2015||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Nine||August 2, 2016||March 20, 2017||February 15, 2017||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Ten||August 15, 2017||June 12, 2017||July 26, 2017||TBA||5|
|Title||Region A||Region B||Extras||Discs|
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season One||April 17, 2012||N/A||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Two||March 5, 2013||N/A||N/A||3|
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Three||May 3, 2011||N/A||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Four||May 29, 2012||N/A||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Five||December 24, 2012 (direct from Acorn Media)
March 5, 2013
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Six||November 26, 2013||N/A||N/A||3|
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Seven||October 18, 2014||N/A||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Eight||August 4, 2015||March 20, 2017||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Nine||August 2, 2016||TBA||
|Murdoch Mysteries – Season Ten||August 15, 2017||TBA||TBA||4|
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Discs|
|Murdoch Mysteries – Complete Series 1–3||N/A||August 30, 2010||N/A||12|
|Murdoch Mysteries: Series 1–5 Collection||N/A||N/A||November 7, 2012||20|
|Murdoch Mysteries: Seasons 1–4 Collection (DVD & Blu-ray)||March 5, 2013||N/A||N/A||16 DVD / 12 Blu-ray|
|Murdoch Mysteries: Seasons 5–8 Collection (DVD & Blu-ray)||August 2, 2016||N/A||N/A||18 DVD / 15 Blu-ray|
|Murdoch Mysteries: Season 1–9 (DVD)||N/A||N/A||September 11, 2016|
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Discs|
|The Murdoch Mysteries||May 26, 2015||N/A||N/A||3|
Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas was released in Region 1 on October 10, 2017 on both DVD and Blu-ray.
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Extras||Discs|
|Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas||October 10, 2017||Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes||1|
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