For every murder you encounter in the Age of Invention, at least one invention should be created in order to solve it. And if an invention is too much, then resort to creating new forensic techniques that draw on your extensive knowledge of physics, logic, engineering, and chemistry that most people would never have even dreamed of in the tail end of the Victorian Era. Maybe, if you’re clever enough, you’ll inspire your colleagues like Edison, Tesla, Twain, Churchill, and Doyle to also achieve their monumental contributions to modern science, culture, and politics. Well, this is how you go about solving mysteries if you live in turn-of-the-20th century Toronto, and your name is Detective William Murdoch.
CBC’s series, also called “The Artful Detective,” is a rendition of Maureen Jennings’ novels about an intelligent young detective who uses his encyclopedic and inquisitive mind to solve mysteries in every part of Toronto, often using unconventional, but scientifically grounded methods that are quite advanced in the 1890s to early 1900s world. He is meticulous and thorough in method, gentlemanly and upstanding in character, and quite handsome and slightly aloof to his social environment. Despite his reliable work and successful mad-scientist projects, Murdoch is met with a fair amount of skepticism from co-workers.
However, Murdoch isn’t the only brilliant mind at Station House No. 04, though. Dr. Julia Ogden, the coroner, is a modern woman in the Victorian era; not only does she have a medical degree during a time when women were not typically allowed in universities, but she has no problem voicing the opinion that men and women are equally valuable contributors to society. Murdoch respects this and her equally enigmatic mind very much and it is part of what brings them together as the leading romantic pair of the show.
“Murdoch Mysteries” also gives a refreshing aspect of a Christian protagonist, whose Catholic faith serves as a foundation for his ethics, defines his purpose as a creation of an almighty God, and defies the tension that people too often place between religion and science. Murdoch’s actions bring to light that if God created all things, then did he not create the abounding knowledge and mysteries of science, which are all part of the world’s structure and order?
How does mankind use science for good and after what point does a particular use of science become immoral or sinful? Often, the show examines how Murdoch handles situations in light of his faith with episodes that define justice and bring out Murdoch’s deep convictions of truth, love, value of life, and justice, even when it hurts. Several episodes look at topics (other than murder) such as abortion, homosexuality, eugenics, and suicide, which are topics and actions that many religions take issue with.
When not delving into more serious topics, the show has plenty of quirky humor and memorable run-ins with well-known historical figures. Netflix currently has 7 seasons, and the show is definitely family friendly, as far as murder mysteries shows go.
Time Commitment: 7 Seasons
Why its worth the binge: Thoughtful, charming, and refreshing, Murdoch Mysteries offers a unique tale in the world of crime drama.
– Kelly Gatewood
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