Acorn Media // 2013 // 572 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // November 14th, 2013
"I wish we could live in a different time -- when we could be together and the world wouldn't care." -- Dr. Julia Ogden, on her relationship with Detective William Murdoch
Detective William Murdoch and his lady friend Dr. Julia Ogden actually looked happy at the end of Season Five of Murdoch Mysteries. Season Six even opens with the typically long-suffering TV couple at the altar, but that's just in Murdoch's dream. In reality, Julia can't get her marriage annulled, and her husband's reluctant to divorce; even if she gets the divorce, that'll be a tough call for Murdoch, a devout Catholic. By the end of the season, he'll be in a situation that looks like one of his nightmares -- but it's really happening.
Murdoch is still tinkering with inventions and talked-about gadgets -- his latest is a putty that looks like a favorite kids' toy -- to solve mysteries.
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 6 continues the adventures of the Toronto detective into the twentieth century with thirteen episodes:
* "Murdoch Air" -- Murdoch (Yannick Bisson, Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye) is flying high in his dreams, but he's soon to come down to Earth to solve a case involving a flying machine. At least he'll be the first successful pilot, while Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris, Young Triffie's Been Made Away With) finds the more down-to-earth pleasures of the hamburger.
* "Winston's Last Night" -- A body and a bloody sword are found in a man's hotel room. It looks like this Winston Churchill fellow's political career -- and possibly his life -- are over.
* "Murdoch on the Corner" -- The $10 found in a wallet is half a constable's monthly wage, but how is it a motive for murder? George is about to find out, but first, he's interested in a new discovery: pizza.
* "A Study in Sherlock" -- It's a case for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Geraint Wyn Davies, Forever Knight) when a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes has some answers at a crime scene.
* "Murdoch au Naturel" -- Boys wanting a glimpse of a nudist camp find a human skull instead. George reluctantly joins the bare bunch, but finds that Julia (Hélène Joy, Durham County) is there on her own.
* "Murdoch and the Cloud of Doom" -- Yes, Murdoch's trying to stop a "cloud of doom" -- actually a chlorine gas attack -- threatened for Toronto.
* "The Ghost of Queen's Park" -- A member of Parliament saw a ghost, just before he fell to his death. Murdoch tries to figure out what gave the ghost her glow.
* "Murdoch in Ladies Wear" -- There's a fastidious Mr. Monk, but not for long; he's soon dropped down a department store's elevator shaft. Julia's husband Darcy reneges on his promise to divorce.
* "Victoria Cross" -- A pawn shop customer loses her ability to walk after a shooting, but it seems to be psychological. Meanwhile, Brackenreid (Thomas Craig, Hidden) looks into a prison suicide that could be murder. Maureen Jennings, who wrote the Murdoch novels, co-wrote the episode.
* "Twisted Sisters" -- Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly, The L.A. Complex) renews her croquet rivalry when some training Olympians find a body by the water. Her middle-class beau George isn't so welcome at the athletic club.
* "Lovers in a Murderous Time" -- Murdoch gets not one, but three, confessions to a pitchfork murder. William has a clash with Darcy, and Julia's not honored.
* "Crime and Punishment" -- Darcy is dead, and Julia is the prime suspect. Murdoch isn't to investigate officially, but that's not likely to stop him. Since he keeps finding evidence of her guilt, maybe it should.
* "The Murdoch Trap" -- Julia's convicted of murder, but Murdoch is pursuing a new lead. Soon, he's missing. The Station Four crew believes him dead, since otherwise he'd be there to console Julia before her hanging.
If you haven't seen Murdoch Mysteries before, the first few minutes of "Murdoch Air" set up the premise and the story thus far nicely. Detective William Murdoch's dreaming of finally marrying his true love, but Constable George Crabtree has a strange case for him: a man's been killed by a falling machine -- a flying machine that didn't quite -- and the only being inside was a pig. George believes the pig is a space creature, the first wave of an invasion, but Murdoch, naturally, wants to look for a more rational explanation. The detective tries to reconstruct the plane, thus pioneering the future FAA's methods. Between the fact that someone's experimenting with flying machines and the outdated garb, you might get the idea that it's set in 1900. In short, we've got a high-concept period murder mystery with a touch of romance.
The complications in the romance between Murdoch and Dr. Julia Ogden are getting ridiculous, and the season doesn't end happily for them. At least Murdoch's starting to loosen up. True, he and Julia end up playing dominoes when they've checked into a hotel room together, but they're at least in a hotel room together, and I can't imagine that they'd even have gotten there a couple of seasons ago. Julia, on the other hand, is getting dramatic, telling both Darcy and William (well, one character doesn't call the hero by his last name) that she'll bear the scandal. This is old-fashioned melodrama.
In the midst of a season-long story involving scandal for Murdoch and Julia, "Murdoch au Naturel" reminds viewers of the moral climate of 1900 Toronto, which was just climbing out from under the Victorian era. Nudity -- and you do see some bare bottoms -- isn't the only outrage. George, a confirmed bachelor who's adjusting to dating, is tempted by "bare legs" in a Parisian can-can review that's advertised in the newspaper; he's thinking about it, but he wants to be faithful to Dr. Emily Grace. A reformer isn't just angered by the bare legs; she wants something done about that ragtime stuff that's being played in a nightclub.
While the show was starting to shift toward the ensemble in recent seasons, Season Six puts the bulk of the detecting back on Murdoch's shoulders, with George coming up with ridiculous answers. Brackenreid gets a good turn in "Victoria Cross," but the strong ensemble seems underused this season.
The obvious flaw in a Murdoch mystery -- a real person, such as Winston Churchill, can't have committed the murder -- pops up occasionally, but not too often.
The Season Six set also lacks extras. There's usually an interview or a featurette on some aspect of the production with Murdoch sets.
Yeah, I'd have liked William and Julia to finally get together -- so the focus could get back to detecting already. Murdoch Mysteries: Season 6 isn't the best of the series' run, but it's far from painful; I watched six in a row one day without breaking a sweat. Viewers of previous seasons will want to keep following Murdoch's adventures; Season Six isn't a horrible place to start with Murdoch, but you might do better to track down an earlier set.
Review content copyright © 2013 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 572 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site