“MURDOCH MYSTERIES: SEASON 11”
Blu-ray and DVD; 2017-2018; Not Rated; Streaming via Amazon Video, Acorn TV
Best extra: A multi-part making-of featurette
SET IN Edwardian-era Toronto, “Murdoch Mysteries” is a likable detective series with a regular cast of characters and loads of murder cases solved with the help of the developing field of forensic science. An occasional real historical figure is thrown in for a part-educational, part-social commentary, and part-soap opera effect.
It stars Yannick Bisson, also a producer of the show, as Detective William Murdoch. When this season begins, Murdoch has been framed for murder and remains in a jail cell, where he’s being badgered to confess. On top of that, he’s frantic because he doesn’t know the whereabouts of his wife, Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy). Julia is actually in hiding (and soon disguised as a man) because Murdoch’s Station House No. 4 has come under the control of some corrupt cops; she is working to remedy that and free her husband.
But fans shouldn’t fear. This is the type of mystery series in which the murders are always solved, and the good guys usually win. At least 18 more murders pop up during Season 11, so there’s no doubt Murdoch will be back on the crime-solving job before too long. In the course of those episodes, such real-life figures as Helen Keller, Alexander Graham Bell, Mary Baker Eddy and Theodore Roosevelt turn up and mingle with the regulars, and a variety of still-resonant social issues are considered.
Acorn Studios produced this 18-episode, four Blu-ray disc set. All production values are excellent. Details are very sharp, even in low light, indoor, and night-time scenes; skin tones are consistently realistic; contrast is excellent; and color saturation ideal. The HD soundtrack is also top-notch, with dialogue always clear and understandable, with optional subtitles offered.
The only extra is a making-of featurette, divided into several small segments, which often deal with specific episodes, and is spread over three of the discs. Bisson and a few of the other actors discuss the demise of “Slugger Jackson (Kristian Bruun),” an especially well-liked policeman from Station House 4, and “a great part of the show.” Amanda Richer, who plays Helen Keller, explains she “had to find a balance” in her portrayal, and praises Keller for having been “a voice for the voiceless.”
In an episode titled “The Accident,” the action occurs over the course of one morning in real time. Another episode, set in an artists’ colony, features a character based on Tom Thomson, a well-known 19th century Canadian landscape painter, or “wilderness artist.” In it, Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) is revealed to be a talented painter, himself, and goes to the colony undercover in search of a killer. Another episode looks at “Faith vs. Science,” in which an apparent miracle occurs, and Murdoch’s Catholic beliefs come into play.
Other settings for Season 11’s spate of murders include a posh boys’ school; a cricket match; a wine-tasting event, a cooking contest and a chess tournament. In other words, there’s something for just about everyone.
— Peggy Earle