As mentioned in previous reviews, this DVD box set contains season one of the Inspector Murdoch TV series - a new take on the earlier, more filmic Murdoch cases which starred ever-excellent Canadian actor Peter Outerbridge ( ReGenesis, Men With Brooms) and a pre-Spooks Keeley Hawes.
All 13 episodes of the new Murdoch, (who has now re-generated Dr. who stylee from Outerbridge into French-Canadian actor Yannick Bisson) - are here. And very good they are, too!
If you fancy a pinch of 'Murder, She Wrote' mixed with a dash of 'The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes' and stirred into the bustling metropolis that is late 1890's Toronto, you won't be disappointed.
The Victorian costumes, set design and period recreation is pitch perfect - which, if you have ever seen any of 'ReGenesis', another Canadian TV show which shares both Murdoch's production team and its high production values - will come as no surprise.
Yannick Bisson is not Outerbridge, but his slightly stilted, gentle Jesuit, sub-Sherlock Murdoch does grow on you. Providing you can take your eyes off his eyelashes for long enough to actually concentrate on the dialogue, that is..!
Bisson is ably supported by Canadian actor Jonny Harris, who as Officer Arthur Crabtree is genuinely amusing, and Thomas Craig - DFS voiceover supremo and ex-Corrie mechanic, last seen getting his head stoved in in Kev's garage (well, if you will overcharge for M.O.T's...) - whose gruff Superintendent Brackenreid gets to bark all manner of Northern-English insults at the bewildered Torontonian rogues of his manor, whilst the earnest Murdoch tries not to look permanently appalled.
We also get the lovely Helene Joy taking over the Keeley Hawes role of Forensic pathologist Dr. Julia Ogden. A kind of Victorian take on Silent Witness' Sam Ryan, She is a thoroughly modern Millie who stokes the fires of Murdoch's heart. Although you would never be able to tell from his face.
It's not so much a case of 'will they, won't they' but more that, They definitely will, but probably when both are of pensionable age, judging by the speed at which Murdoch makes his moves. Their relationship is full of the awkward silences and charming misunderstandings the Victorian etiquette imposed. And we thought it was only the British who were stuffy and reserved. Apparently, the empire inflicted it on the Canadians too, gawd help 'em.
The stories are fairly standard whodunnits. Although, some episodes do attempt bolder subject matter: 'Knockdown' for instance, deals with the racism inherent after a Black Boxing champion is found murdered.
Meanwhile, in Toronto society, 'Til death do us part' uncovers secret homosexuality among the wealthy elite, causing Murdoch to 'go undercover' (ahem) dandified to the nines and looking a proper Charlie. Understandably, being forced to wear a Green Carnation for extended periods is enough to give any man a mini-crisis of faith. But luckily for Murdoch, an understanding priest is never far away.
'The Prince and the Rebel' is possibly the bravest (or daftest, depending on your point of view) of the episodes, wherein a state visit by reknowned playboy Prince Alfred results in an attempt on his life by the IRA.
Thereby Touching on the thorny issue of British sovreignty and Irish politics, while revealing a little of the Irish-descended Murdoch's personal views on the troubles. Some of the dialogue is perhaps a little trite, but nonetheless it's a brave stab for ostensibly lightweight fare. After all, not even Jessica Fletcher faced the wrath of the Ribbon men...
That is not to say this Murdoch is without its comic moments. Granted, they mostly revolve around Murdoch's man of science and enlightenment, versus Brackenreid's man of smack-it-in-the-gob-ask-questions-later, odd couple shtick. Which Just about prevents it becoming yet another period drama trying to impose 21st century values on an ancient society. Just about...
If you can suspend your disbelief for a bit, Murdoch's habit of inventing everything from the polygraph to an Ultra violet lighting system which shows up body fluids (bleeuuk!)is actually quite endearing.
It kept reminding me of the Gary Oldman character in 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead', which is always good for a chuckle, if not always entirely believable.
What with Murdoch - his head crammed full of Jung and Darwin and Einstein - and Girl Friday Dr. Ogden Forensically Fluorescing all over the place, I'm quite surprised Toronto has any crime at all.
Nonetheless, I'm sure any die-hard mystery fan could find something to love about this series. It looks marvellous, It's Canadian-made, so people say 'eh' a lot, the stories stay just the right side of Scooby-Doo and you can have fun playing spot-the-brit-bit-part-actor.
Like it's titular hero, it cajoles you gently into submission until you find it endearing. Plus, the makers of Murdoch have commissioned a Second series which is currently airing on Sky TV as we speak. It's just as good (if not better) than the first, so happily, there is more from Murdoch (and those eyelashes..) to come yet. So, You might as well just give in now, eh ...