If we combine the new format of web series – specially designed for binge-watching – with traditional formulaic shows that came before Netflix in the last ten years, we will have paraphernalia for detective/true crime shows that would be impossible to fit in a list, let alone watch them. It is, therefore, quite a joy to find a detective show that cuts away from generic clichés and the pale imitations of 1950’s Hollywood noir. The Artful Detective (also known as Murdoch Mysteries on CBC where it first premiered) is the best that has happened to Ovation network since its inception. First launched in 2008, the show is a combination of a Sherlock-esque eccentricity, real history, and the classic detective show formula.
Set in late-nineteenth century Canada, the show features the protagonist William Murdoch, a detective in the Toronto constabulary, solving cases using methods that are far ahead of their time, and are often on the brink of anachronistic forensic devices – i.e. fingerprints, blood testing, and even sonar (some of these technologies explained as prototypes of the actual breakthroughs). On the other hand, the show is also known for its knack of authenticity, with constant reference and appearances of stalwart Victorian figures such as H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill, Nikolo Tesla, Harry Houdini, and even Arthur Conan Doyle himself.
The Artful Detective Cast: Who’s in it?
The show’s usual ensemble cast returns to their respective roles, the phenomenal Yannick Bisson as the main lead William Murdoch, Helene Joy as the doctor and coroner Julia Ogden, Thomas Craig as Brackenreid, as well as Jonny Harris as Crabtree. Additionally, the show is also known for its surprise stunt castings – having made shockers such as William Shatner as Mark Twain, and most famously, the former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Comedian Colin Mochrie, who had also guest-starred the series last season in 2017, jocularly commented that he was the only actor left in Canada to not have previously played a guest role in the show.
This season has already lived up to a most notorious reputation for historical figures and guest stars – having cast cosmetics industry juggernaut and famous entrepreneur Florence Nightingale Graham (founder of Elizabeth Arden, Inc.) as a nursing student with whom Crabtree has a brief liaison, with a wink here and a nod there as a quite opaque reference to her real-life cosmetics empire.
The Artful Detective Plot: What is it about?
The newest iteration had already dropped earlier this year (September 2018), and the first big thing this season is Murdoch and Ogden’s acquisition of their new avant-garde home designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright (played by Aaron Poole), complete with a prototype microwave. The microwave becomes an anchor for the plot when a man becomes trapped in it at Ogden and Murdoch’s housewarming party. The season sees Ogden return to med school, leaving her post of coroner empty, while Violet Hart attempts to take over the morgue.
The mysterious death of one of her patients (spoiler alerts) reveals a trace of mystery, as Murdoch and Ogden’s ensuing investigation discovers a pattern in the death among the alcoholics admitted to the ward. With such an explosive start, it shaped up into another great new season. It had18 total episodes, complete with an odd Halloween episode rather than the cursory Christmas episode, as showrunner Peter Mitchell had confirmed in an interview.