Murdoch Mysteries: Season Six, which was recently released on Blu-ray, may well be its most entertaining season yet. The Canadian mystery series, which mixes forensic drama with a Victorian-era Toronto setting, is a fun and quirky steampunk CSI. Based on the Detective Murdoch novels written by Maureen Jennings, Murdoch Mysteries stars Yannick Bisson as Detective William Murdoch, a man with an eye on the future. Using “modern” methods of detection including blood type analysis, finger printing, and even sonar, Murdoch is always open to new techniques and scientific ideas. In season six, the strict Roman Catholic must expand his mind and his morals even further, as his investigations take him to a nudist colony. He faces his ultimate challenge on a more personal front—to reconcile his faith with his desire to marry his soon-to-be divorced lady love, Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy).
Murdoch Mysteries has always delighted in mixing real-life personages with its fictional crime stories, and season six is no exception. Both helping and hindering Murdoch in his investigations (and, in one instance, becoming the prime suspect) are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Geraint Wyn Davies, in a return appearance as the author), and a young Winston Churchill (Thomas Howes). Always on hand to help the brilliant detective are his right-hand man, Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), Toronto coroner Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly), and Murdoch’s (sometime) supportive boss, Inspector Thomas Charles Brackenreid (Thomas Craig).
Dr. Ogden’s interest in women’s rights plays a large part in the series and its story lines, especially in the episode “Lovers in a Murderous Time.” Murdoch’s and Ogden’s love is put to the test when Julia becomes the prime suspect in a brutal murder in the last two episodes of the season, “Crime & Punishment” and “The Murdoch Trap.”
As much as the cases in Murdoch Mysteries flirt with history and science, there is abundant humor as well—especially on display (if you’ll pardon the pun) during the episode “Murdoch Au Naturel,” where the detective must solve a murder at a local nudist colony. Also amusing is “A Study in Sherlock,” where a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes confounds Murdoch and company, so much so that they must call in the fictional character’s creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to help sort out the mystery.
The episodes included in the three-disc collection are:
“Winston’s Lost Night”
“Murdoch on the Corner”
“A Study in Sherlock”
“Murdoch Au Naturel”
“Murdoch and the Cloud of Doom” (Yannick Bisson directs this episode, which centers on a terrorist threat — toxic gas — to Toronto.)
“The Ghost of Queen’s Park”
“Murdoch in Ladies Wear”
“Lovers in a Murderous Time”
“Crime & Punishment”
“The Murdoch Trap”
The three-disc set is formatted for widescreen, with an aspect ratio of 1.77:1. The images are sharp, with details like the web and weave of fabric in the cast’s period costumes in glorious detail. The sound quality (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) on the discs is good, and the musical score by Robert Carli is as atmospheric as always. The set has an approximate running time of 572 minutes.
I am happy to report that Murdoch Mysteries is currently in production on its seventh season in Canada, with 18 episodes on order. More and more American audiences should continue to discover this clever and entertaining period procedural.