On Monday October 10th, the long-running, Canadian historical procedural Murdoch Mysteries will start its’ tenth season. To celebrate the start of the milestone season (it will bring the series up to 155 episodes), I’m rewatching of the series, starting from the pilot.
The first episode opens in a fully realized environment. Our main characters are almost all in attendance at a demonstration promoting DC power over AC in turn of the century Toronto. The demonstration is spoiled when Alice Howard (Tamsen McDonough) is violently electrocuted in what initially appears to be an accidental death. However, Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is on the case.
In the process of the investigation, Murdoch ends up in the workspace of scientist Nikola Tesla (Dmitry Chepovetsky), where the characters (the intelligent Murdoch being a tremendous admirer of Tesla’s) establish the science of the episode. The moment is an intelligent and realized one, as the awareness of history in the scene is something that will become a hallmark of the influential series.
There are a number of suspects in the well-attended murder, including Edna Garrison, an animal rights activist who is protesting the involvement of a dog in the electrical experiment. Constable Crabtree, very much on the frontline of the activity, is heavily smitten with the young activist, allowing viewers to get to know the likable, young constable. The courtship scenes between George and Garrison (Tamara Hope) give the series a respite from the heavy science of the pilot episode.
The relationship between Murdoch and Dr. Ogden is set up almost immediately in the pilot. The two characters (who’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship has been an important one throughout the lengthy run of the series) seem to be well realized from the onset of the episode. The two actors show almost immediate chemistry as they work together to solve Alice’s murder.
The story becomes more complicated when Daniel Pratt (David Huband), one of the chief suspects (he’s one of multiple men romantically linked to the victim) is also killed by electrocution.
It is the science that cracks the case as Murdoch and Tesla are able to illicit a final confession with the aid of an advanced wireless recording device, which is able to ensnare the killer (Patrick Garrow). He had targeted Miss. Howard, who was five weeks pregnant with his child.
As Murdoch’s Mysteries starts season 10, the show demonstrates that it was largely realized right from the pilot. From the beginning of the episode, it is clear that the shows likable characters are well-developed, as is the complicated and creative setting (as is the tone) of the period mystery series.