Published January 7, 2013 on Vancouver is Awesome
Historical Toronto detective series Murdoch Mysteries begins its sixth season at 9 p.m. tonight on CBC with Yannick Bisson’s Detective William Murdoch investigating the death of a man killed by the crash of a flying machine at the turn-of-the-20th-century. I had the chance to interview Bisson, who directed the premiere, at CBC Vancouver’s Open House and Food Bank Day late last year.
When the CBC re-ran season five of Murdoch Mysteries in the fall to better ratings than its first run on Citytv in the summer, it proved that the public broadcaster really is a “better fit”, as Bisson put it, for this period drama about a Toronto police detective using ahead-of-his-time forensic methods to solve crimes. “It felt different,” Bisson explains about filming thirteen new distinctively Canadian episodes. “To be on a network that cares about this.”
Bisson sees his Detective Murdoch role as a guide for the audience, a calm centre if you will. “Other actors get to take chances,” he explains, especially guest actors like Geraint Wyn Davies, who returns this season as Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And in a historical cheat, we’ll also meet the great fictional detective himself, Sherlock Holmes, played by Andrew Gower, for a Victorian super-sleuth showdown: Murdoch vs Holmes. Downton Abbey’s Thomas Howes will be dropping by the Toronto constabulary too as a young Winston Churchill.
Not to mention the regular cast of great characters populating the police station and morgue like Jonny Harris’s Constable George Crabtree, Thomas Craig’s Chief Inspector Thomas Brackenreid, Helene Joy’s former coroner Dr. Julia Ogden and Georgina Reilly’s current coroner Dr. Emily Grace. “I love our cast,” Bisson says.
It’s not all corpses and forensic science though. The long-running on-again off-again romance of Detective Murdoch and Dr. Julia Ogden finally came to fruition in the season five finale last year when the pair embraced against the backdrop of New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrating a new century. Frankly, I’d given up on these two ever working things out, but Bisson argues it was necessary to find ways to create distance between them over the years to “keep things interesting” and maintain “realistic characters”. Their romance is expected to intensify this season but I’m betting there will be more bumps in the road if the past is any indicator. Still, who can resist Murdoch?