I have a particular affection for Canada and things Canadian, having lived as a young missionary in Ontario and Quebec from 1965 to 1967. I recently discovered a lovely gift from Canada in the form of a Canadian TV series.
I will normally watch PBS programs that originated from the CBC or one of the provincial educational broadcasters such as TVOntario, Access, CLT, mostly for the opportunity to see Canadian scenery and culture. Their educational and science production are of good quality. However, I have found that most of the TV series and movies produced by Canadian production companies are at best a second tier product. Until recently about the only one that I felt had top quality writing and production was the old Da Vinci’s Inquest series, filmed in Vancouver.
Several Months ago I stumbled across a police procedural mystery TV series set in Toronto circa 1900 that I absolutely love. Murdoch Mysteries features Toronto Police Detective William Murdoch and his colleague and romantic interest Coroner Dr. Julia Ogden. Since I probably can’t encapsulate the series better than the IMDb webpage, I have copied their summary:
“Based on novels by Maureen Jennings, "Murdoch Mysteries" follows young detective William Murdoch. In a series of stories taking place in Toronto during the 1890s, several challenging murder cases arise. Murdoch uses up-and-coming forensics techniques and an unconventional approach, which often elicit skepticism from his fellow officers and his boss. Coroner Julia Ogden becomes Murdoch's number one ally, and they make a top-notch team, but he must struggle against tradition and prejudice to solve some of the city's most-gruesome murders.”
This is a wonderful mystery series with cleaver plots and surprising twists. It is also the best historic period series I’ve seen, including those great period pieces produced by the BBC, which I watch on PBS. Not only are the fashion, cityscapes, street scenes, and interior shots spot on for the period, but the cultural, religious, educational, and social norms are accurate and feel real. The story depicts the emergence of new technologies, new thought, current events, and popular culture as a natural part of the story. All in all it’s a very satisfying blend of good writing, history, mystery, and well-developed characters.
In the Phoenix market Murdoch Mysteries airs on CBS on Sunday nights from 11:30 to 12:30; you may have to hunt for it in your city, or you can order it from one of the on-line providers. Try it; I think you will like it.
Mystery writer, Southwestern Historian, researcher, husband, father, grandpa, with an opinion on everything.