Murdoch Mysteries, Season 8
Based on the novels by Maureen Jennings, Murdoch Mysteries is a historical crime series set in Toronto. By the eighth season, it is in the early 1900s, and the brilliant detective/inventor William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is ahead of his time (often intentionally anachronistically so) in using scientific methods to catch killers. Murdoch is aided by the gruff but good-hearted Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), overimaginative and loyal Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), pathologist-turned-psychiatrist and love interest Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), and medical examiner Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly).
Early in its run, Murdoch Mysteries decided that it wasn’t going to be bound to historical accuracy, believing that it would be far more fun to have Murdoch invent technology decades before it was really created, fill the mysteries with cameos from real-life historical figures, and sprinkle the plots with contemporary pop culture references. In the last episode of the season, Murdoch uses a homemade stun gun in a plot lifted straight from The Hunger Games. In another episode, he searches for the Holy Grail in a booby-trapped temple. Thomas Edison and his son are murder suspects at one point, President Theodore Roosevelt interrupts Murdoch’s honeymoon, and one case leads to a hunt for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Once the viewer abandons any need for realism and plausibility, the show is great fun.
There are a few overarching story lines running through the eighth season, including the burgeoning women’s suffrage movement and the marriage of William and Julia. Many fans have pushed for the show’s leads to get together for some time, though this reviewer is far less enamored with their relationship.
The eighth season has some of the show’s better episodes, but it may not be the best place for newcomers to start watching the series. Several episodes refer to cases from previous years, and in one of the season’s best episodes, several female killers from earlier episodes are all brought together in an insane asylum, which would spoil at least four mysteries for people who haven’t seen past seasons.
Murdoch Mysteries’ eighth season shows that the series still has lots of potential and manages to blend humor and mystery with plenty of sly winks and a refusal to take itself too seriously.