Appellate Judge James A. Stewart wonders if Coca-Cola and General Electric made it.
Our reviews of Murdoch Mysteries: Season 2 (published April 21st, 2010), Murdoch Mysteries: Season 3 (Blu-ray) (published May 3rd, 2011), Murdoch Mysteries: Season 4 (published May 10th, 2012), and Murdoch Mysteries: Season 6 (published November 14th, 2013) are also available.
"A fresh corpse and a crime scene. What more could one ask for?"—Dr. Emily Grace
Dr. Julia Ogden may have left the Toronto coroner's office for marriage, but there's still a detective pursuing a lady coroner with a taste for mystery on Murdoch Mysteries. Constable George Crabtree and Dr. Emily Grace take up much of the subplotting in Murdoch Mysteries: Season 5, even if Detective William Murdoch still breaks a couple of hearts. First, though, he's got to get back into detective work, since he's up in the Klondike panning for gold at the season's start after his own heartbreak.
This isn't quite as soap operatic as it all sounds, although there's some actual opera involved this season of mysteries set in 1899.
Facts of the Case
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 5 has thirteen episodes on four discs:
• "Back and to The Left"—Toronto's protestant Orange Parade doesn't make it to the Catholic district, since a gunshot apparently meant for the mayor left an alderman dead. The suspect, beaten to death, says he's "just a patsy" with his dying breath.
• "Evil Eye of Egypt"—George's book signing at the exhibition of "The Tomb of the Unknown Princess" is interrupted by murder when a poisonous asp emerges from the sarcophagus. It's the first in a series of deaths, but at least it helps George's book sales.
• "War on Terror"—George (Jonny Harris, Hatching, Matching, & Dispatching) and Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch, Copper) are injured in an explosion at Duncan Market that's blamed on anarchists. Murdoch goes undercover to investigate Emma Goldman.
• "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?"—Murdoch tests a high-speed (40-plus m.p.h.) electric vehicle while investigating the murder of a battery inventor. George suspects Venusians; Henry Ford is one of Murdoch's suspects.
• "Strolling on the Wild Side: Part One"—There's a murder in the stacks at the library, which reunites Murdoch with Anna Fulford, who's hiding from the Black Hand. He's also reunited with Julia (Helene Joy, ReGenesis), who is arrested for teaching about contraceptives.
• "Invention Convention"—George puts Murdoch's lie detector up for the Eaton Prize, which puts the two policeman at the scene when the winner is murdered with an ingenious device. Was the weapon invented by Alexander Graham Bell?
• "Staircase to Heaven"—On a dark and stormy night, an investigation into the afterlife sends a participant to his afterlife. While Murdoch and Dr. Emily Grace (one of the researchers and suspects) are at the scene, Inspector Brackenreid and George guard a prisoner targeted for death. Co-written by Maureen Jennings, author of the Murdoch novels.
• "Murdoch Night in Canada"—After two hockey players fight in the locker room, one is dead. It turns out to be murder, not manslaughter, which endangers Toronto's chance to beat Montreal for the Stanley Cup.
• "Twentieth Century Murdoch"—On Boxing Day 1899, a man claiming to be a time traveler says he wants to stop a murder. Soon, Murdoch's taking a ride to 1912 in a time machine. George asks Emily (Georgina Reilly, The L.A. Complex) to a New Year's Eve ball to welcome in 1900.
Perhaps the most intriguing case on Detective William Murdoch's docket this season is "Back and to The Left." It opens with the murder of a politician riding in a parade, Murdoch and Dr. Emily Grace use photos of the event to figure it out, there's a possible conspiracy, and the alleged shooter winds up dead. Moreover, one of the suspects just looks so much like President John F. Kennedy. Sound familiar? It also brings in a strong dramatic note, since Murdoch is one of the few Catholics among the Toronto constabulary, and others on the force are itching to round up Catholic suspects.
Half the mysteries have strange hooks, like time machines and afterlife research. Most things are explicable, but there's an actual science-fictional moment in one of those cases. Murdoch uses cutting-edge (for 1899) technology—including a stereoscope and a sound analyzer—to solve his cases. As always, he's enamored of gadgets like an analytical machine (an early computer) or that electric car (although he doesn't care for a tangle with an automatic sprinkler). The drama is leavened by jokes from a modern perspective; for example, George invests in Coca-Cola and General Electric, two young companies that Murdoch doesn't think will catch on.
Murdoch's showing more emotion than in past seasons: he's reluctant to go back to detective work after freeing a murderess last season, he's got a hot temper when his romantic interests—Anna Fulford and Dr. Julia Ogden—are endangered, and it doesn't look like he's going to let Julia get away this time. A rather unchangeable character is finally showing signs of growth. George Crabtree seems as awkward as Murdoch with Dr. Emily Grace, but she's bolder than Julia, which brings the season-long courtship to a successful conclusion.
The occasional special effect to recreate 1899 Toronto is obvious, but the production otherwise looks excellent, breathtaking in its Klondike scenes and often moody and atmospheric elsewhere.
Extras include a Season 5 overview which finds Yannick Bisson sounding very unlike the very formal Murdoch ("It was far cooler than anything I'd ever imagined," Bisson says of a Yukon trip for the opener); features on three episodes ("Murdoch of the Klondike," "Murdoch at the Opera," and "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?"); interview bites in which cast members say Jonny Harris is a cutup; a feature on the costumes; and a photo gallery (one of those old-fashioned ones you advance yourself) with camera crews in action and publicity stills.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The character storylines are rather predictable this year. Obviously, Murdoch's going to return to Toronto and detecting, and it's also quite apparent that Julia's marriage isn't going to last. There's also the inevitable clash between Murdoch and new coroner Dr. Emily Grace, even though she sounds a lot like the predecessor he compares her to. With luck, Julia and Murdoch will stay together so we—and they—don't have to go through another round.
When Henry Ford and Emma Goldman are among the suspects, you kind of know they're not guilty, making the mystery just that much easier to unravel.
The mysteries on Murdoch Mysteries are as fun as ever, and shifting the character storyline focus to George Crabtree and Georgina Reilly helps keep the show fresh. It's a good show to power watch, although it could give you some sleepless nights (at least if you like chamomile, which was poisoned in one episode). There's a sixth season underway in Canada.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
Review content copyright © 2013 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.