In case you haven’t heard the Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian drama/crime show set in Toronto in the late 1890’s. The lead detective uses forensic techniques newly introduced for the Edwardian era, including fingerprinting and trace evidence, in order to solve local murders. It’s season 9 with the artful detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and his crew of friends and colleagues. The Nerd Mentality was able to score a copy of the latest season, but don’t worry, we won’t make you deduce what we thought of it. Read on to find out if Murdoch Mysteries cracks the case wide open, or if it’s best to leave it rotting in jail.
There are 18 episodes for Murdoch Mysteries season 9 on four Blu-ray discs, for a complete run time of 792 minutes. The package is the width of a thicker Blu-ray case (Arrow or Criterion size), which is beneficial because it is space saving for a complete season. The discs are held on two spindles, discs 1 and 2 are stacked on one side and discs 3 and 4 are stacked on the other side. I don’t personally prefer this method of stacking, but so far I have not noticed it negatively effecting the discs. Murdoch Mysteries Season 9 has a suggested retail price of $59.99 but you should be able to find it right now for around $30 to $35 at major retailers. Previous seasons are all available on Blu-ray, and can be found new around $30 each.
It has been said that Murdoch Mysteries is the “Victorian CSI”. To be completely honest there are so many mystery shows on television right now (and in the recent past) that I’ve mostly ignored any new ones. I was coming into Murdoch Mysteries completely blind, so I can’t tell you how it compares to the previous seasons. However, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this show. Its characters have a lot of heart and the pacing of the show goes by pretty quickly. The humor has just the right balance with the drama to make it seem realistic, like the characters have a real weight to them. The plotting and setting seems literary in nature; this could almost be a play, and is in fact based on a book series. The characters are very charming. The main cast is full of actors that I don’t recognize, but they pull off a likable (or unlikable, depending on the plot) personality exquisitely. There is a real genuine feeling to the cast that you don’t get to see often, and it proves that actors working together for many years can pay off in telling a good personal story.
While the story itself may be relatively simple and the plot is not groundbreaking, it is still satisfying to see the characters responses in dealing with their problems. The show is written to be episodic, but there are also underlying themes and character developments that arc throughout the seasons. The first episode of season 9 picks up on a cliffhanger from the previous season and the story is continued. Murdoch Mysteries is straight forward in its storytelling devices, so I never felt lost even though I had not watched the former episodes. Now that I have seen season 9 I think I would like to go back and delve into this world a bit more.
Audio and Visuals:
The audio is 5.1 DTS HD MA and sounds the way you would expect a modern TV show to be on Blu-ray. The episodes are dialogue focused, so it is front heavy in the sound mix with occasional background noises and score coming through the other speakers. The sound is crisp and clear, but it is never going to be used to demo speaker set-ups. English subtitles are available in this release.
The picture quality is gorgeous. Instead of CGI-centric visions of the city, we get very subdued and subtle selections of photography. Yes, it is clear that the rooms are all sets, but the costuming, lighting, and colorization of Murdoch Mysteries are all fantastically well done. Again, the charm of the show shines through, and the filming itself could be considered a character. The show is presented in it’s original aspect ratio 1.78:1.
The back of the box shows “Making Murdoch Featurette” (43 minutes); however, this is not one large special feature but it is spread out across the discs and is attached to the corresponding episode. Out of the 18 episodes, 11 of them have this special feature, which averages at about 4 minutes each. They are your standard behind the scenes, cast and crew interviews and some historical context for the show.
There is a very brief “photo gallery” slide show included as well.
Any show that has William Shatner play as Mark Twain gets automatic interest from me. However, Murdoch Mysteries turned what I thought would be mockery material into characters I cared about. The writing is witty and the acting is delightful. This is a story universe that I want to revisit. I think you should at least check out an episode of this fantastic show. It doesn’t have the quick cuts, pounding music and explosions of your “typical” current detective show, and I thought that was a breath of fresh air. So if a departure from the standard fare sounds like your cup of tea I highly recommend sitting down and watching Murdoch Mysteries.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.