Thursday, 23 February 2012

Murdoch Mysteries series 5 PREVIEW

Murdoch of the Klondike – with Jack London. (Pics: Alibi)
Rating: ★★★½

Alibi, Tuesdays from 28 February, 9pm

Story: Murdoch has left the Toronto police behind after being suspended and is prospecting for gold in the Canadian Rockies. He is heartbroken and feels guilty over a case he mishandled. But then he meets a woman who is suspected of murder…

This is a quirky series – CSI meets a Victorian Toronto populated by British soap actors. Not only is it set in the past but it is a distinctly old-fashioned bit of TV, having the look and feel of a hit series from the 1970s.

Not easily rattled – Dr Emily Grace
That is probably the secret of its success, being a straight good-triumphing-over-evil drama, with little bad language or gore, despite the frequent morgue scenes. The stories are based on the novels of Maureen Jennings and follow detective William Murdoch as he tries to solve murders using fledgling forensic techniques.

Murdoch, played by the doleful Yannick Bisson, may be quick on the new technology but he is a ditherer when it comes to romance. As the new series begins, he is still nursing a broken heart over Dr Ogden, who, after four series of Murdoch's faffing, finally married someone else.

EastEnders' Jill Halfpenny
So, having also been suspended over an investigation that went wrong, he is out in the Rockies prospecting for gold, and here we meet the show's big star – the fantastic scenery. Canada is simply stunning and looks convincingly like a lawless frontier. Anyway, while trying to keep a low profile, Murdoch meets Elizabeth Bryant (EastEnders and Waterloo Road's Jill Halfpenny), who is suspected of murder.

He tries not to get involved, but when she learns he is a detective and won't help her, he feels guilty. It's not long before Murdoch gets technical, in the forensic sense, with the bemused Mounties, and uncovers a murderous plot concerning gold.

A trademark of the series is its use of real historical events and figures, and in this opener Murdoch is helped by a young American about to become a famous writer – Jack London.

Murdoch – Yannick Bisson
Your chance to question Murdoch
Here the show get seriously corny. When London asks Murdoch if he will ever return to the Rockies, he replies, 'If I feel the call of the wild.' Talk about hitting rocky bottom.

Meanwhile, Constable Crabtree struggles in Murdoch's absence, there's a new face in the pathology department, Dr Emily Grace, and it's good to see inspector Brackenreid back in the shape of former Corrie star Thomas Craig, the most red-blooded actor in the show.

Murdoch Mysteries is a decent bit of mainstream entertainment, and its historical mysteries are interesting and fun enough to make it a worldwide hit. A sixth series goes into production in April.

Alibi channel is thrilled to have this new series exclusively and is inviting fans to submit questions to Yannick Bisson at this link.

Cast: Yannick Bisson Detective William Murdoch, Helene Joy Julia Ogden, Jonny Harris Constable George Crabtree, Thomas Craig Brackenreid, Lachlan Murdoch Higgins, Georgina Reilly Dr Emily Grace, Nigel Bennett Chief Constable Giles, Jill Halfpenny Elizabeth Bryant, Paul Braunstein Arlen Pike, Aaron Ashmore Jack London, Mike McPhaden Isaac McKay, Matt Cooke Sam Steele, Jennifer Kydd Kate Linfield, Shauna MacDonald Mrs Billings, Brian Fidler Assayer