Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Murdoch Mysteries: A Fun Steampunkish TV Series
I recently was pointed to a very fun TV series with a definite Steampunk flavor, called Murdoch Mysteries. It's a Canadian-produced series now in its fifth season and available through a variety of cable outlets and on DVD, but also with a lot of episodes up on YouTube. It follows the crime-solving career of police detective William Murdoch in 1890's Toronto, Canada. He uses many unconventional scientific techniques to solve cases -- fingerprints, trace evidence, etc. -- and is supported by his young assistant Constable Crabtree, his superior Inspector Brackenreid, and the lovely medical examiner Doctor Julia Ogden. The show has frequent nods to future science and regular encounters with famous historical characters. Nikola Tesla is in the first episode (dealing with a murder by electrocution and touching on both the commercial struggle between AC and DC current and the bitter rivalry between Tesla and Edison). H.G. Wells, Buffalo Bill Cody, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Queen Victoria all appear in various episodes, to drop just a few names.
It's good fun. I think it suffers a bit from having only four regulars, which is a bit thin for an ensemble cast, (seven or eight seems about right) and a bit much for a classic mystery duo (Holmes and Watson, Poirot and Hastings, Dalziel and Pascoe, etc.), which keeps the character interactions between them fairly predictable. That said, the show is great fun and touches on a few interesting social issues, including the impossibility of Murdoch ever rising above detective due to his catholic faith.
Here's a link to the first episode on YouTube, the one featuring Tesla. It's worth a look. See if you like it.